The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will grant $1 million in funding to support restoration and conservation projects in the Calumet region of Millennium Reserve, including planting 100,000 trees on 60 acres of park land, restoring native habitat for migratory birds, and restoring coastal wetlands, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced.
Salazar made the announcement today at Chicago's Millennium Reserve, along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin; Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller; and other federal, state and local officials and community organizations. Salazar is in Illinois as part of a four-state swing through the Midwest to highlight America's Great Outdoors initiatives that enhance conservation efforts, foster outdoor recreation opportunities, create jobs, and fuel local economies.
"One of the major goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative is to work with states, local communities and other partners to establish a network of great urban parks that will help expand outdoor opportunities in and around cities," Salazar said. "With these grants, we are helping to achieve this goal right in the heart of Chicago, restoring native habitat while also creating new opportunities for millions of Americans to enjoy the great outdoors."
"The Millennium Reserve brings together resources from all levels of government to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation program that will serve as a lasting gift to future generations of Chicagoans," said Senator Durbin. "It will promote economic growth and enable the city's residents to enjoy all Chicago has to offer. When President Obama launched the Americas Great Outdoors Initiative, I believe these were the exact type of projects he had in mind."
The grants will support the Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core initiative, a partnership created to restore 140,000 acres and provide recreational opportunities in the region. Additional conservation projects announced today by the State of Illinois will serve as Millennium Reserve Model Projects to further the mission of transforming the Calumet Region of Chicago into a one-of-a-kind public destination.
Besides the Department of the Interior, partners include the states of Illinois and Indiana, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, and conservation groups such as Audubon Chicago Region. It is one of more than 100 high priority projects highlighted in a 50-state America's Great Outdoors report released late last year.
"We have an opportunity here to restore wildlife habitat and to reconnect the people of the Calumet region with an area teeming with wildlife that also serves as an important stopover for many species of migratory birds," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "In addition, we will give the citizens of Chicago and the surrounding areas a place to enjoy and be refreshed by the wonders of nature in their own backyard."
Later today, Salazar and Durbin will visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore which hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and provides over 45 miles of trails for visitors. In 2010, Indiana Dunes hosted 2.1 million visitors, generating $64 million in visitor spending and supporting 658 jobs.
The seven projects receiving Fish and Wildlife Service grants include:
* Burnham Wildlife Corridor: The Chicago Park District will restore native habitat for migratory songbirds along a 3.6 mile stretch (totaling 60 acres) of Lake Michigan Coastline ($370,870);
* Restoring and Connecting Natural and Human Communities in Calumet: The Forest Preserve District of Cook County will restore approximately 160 acres of diverse coastal ecosystems in the Calumet area, and will work with the Bronzeville Historical Society and Audubon Chicago Region to hire interns to develop stewardship connections between Calumet neighborhoods and nature preserves ($365,000);
* Lake George Wetlands Restoration: The Indiana Department of Natural Resources will restore and enhance 59 acres of Lake Michigan coastal wetlands by removing dense invasive plant species at Lake George ($250,000);
* Millennium Reserve Roots: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Program Office will recruit and assist with planting and installation of 6 to 10 small native plant gardens on private property, or in public places (e.g., school or library grounds) to encourage local community to become involved with local efforts to conserve habitat in the Calumet Region ($10,000);
* South Shore Park Nature Sanctuary: The Chicago Park District will enhance habitat for migratory songbirds through complete removal of invasive plant species, and replace with a dense planting of native woody and herbaceous species on one acre of Lake Michigan Coastline. Upon completion this will be a part of a larger 5-acre Nature Sanctuary ($27,000);
* Rainbow Beach Dune Enhancement: The Chicago Park District will enhance coastal dune habitat for migratory songbirds on 16.1 acres of Lake Michigan Coastline ($9,950); and
* "Migratory Makeovers": As part of Urban Bird Treaty implementation, the City of Chicago, Audubon Chicago Region, and other partners will work with landowners in the Calumet Region and the City's Greencorps to create migratory bird stopover habitat demonstration projects and associated educational opportunities to connect local residents with the area's important role in Great Lakes bird migration. ($20,000).