CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To support habitats and other open-space projects throughout northern Illinois, ComEd and Openlands today announced grants to 26 public agencies through the annual ComEd Green Region Program. Grantees each receive a one-time grant of up to $10,000 to support and improve open-space projects. To address the recent decline in pollinators in our service area, many of this year’s projects focus on enhancing pollinator habitats and protecting species, such as butterflies, bees, and others. Illinois is home to thousands of native pollinator species, which provide critical support to our region's flowering and food plant populations.
Since the inception of the Green Region Program in 2013, ComEd has awarded a total of more than $1.5 million to municipalities across northern Illinois. This support has helped fund nearly 200 open-space projects, as well as restore and protect approximately 1,000 acres of land. ComEd provides the funding for the Green Region Program and Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation, administers the grants to local communities.
“Every year, the Green Region Program reminds us of the power of investment in local environmental projects to provide customers and communities with their own, unique green spaces,” said Melissa Washington, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. “With each grant, ComEd, alongside Openlands, helps ensure the enhancement of green space and biodiversity, while creating a lasting impact in the communities we’re so privileged to serve.”
“Over the past seven years we’ve seen the incredible impact the ComEd Green Region Program has made in communities across northern Illinois,” said Jerry Adelmann, Openlands’ President and CEO. “Now more than ever we know how vital open natural areas are for our health and well-being. Through the leadership and cooperation of ComEd, we’ve supported the creation and sustainability of 189 sites, and protected and restored more than 1,000 acres for residents to enjoy. We extend our gratitude to ComEd and thank the many partners who have implemented these projects across the region.”
Additional information on the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at Openlands.org/GreenRegion.
The 26 ComEd Green Region Program grant recipients for 2020 are:
Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Habitat Recovery and Community Outreach Program (Kendall County Forest Preserve District): This project will build on efforts to enhance the pollinator habitat within the population's high-probability zone for occurrence at Hoover and Fox River Bluffs Forest Preserves. Kendall County's only documented local population of the federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) is located within these two forest preserves areas.
Tuscany Woods Pollinator Meadow (Hampshire Township Park District): This project will establish the first natural area as a pollinator meadow at the park at Tuscany Woods to create a native habitat in a developing community and provide public education on the importance of pollinator species.
Pearl City Prairie Project (Village of Pearl City): This project will help with the development of native prairie plantings with walking paths for a vacant property on Main Street. The native prairie will establish pollinator habitats where none existed before. The project will also include a parking area and a walking bridge.
Heritage Knolls Naturalization Project (Frankfort Park District): This project will help naturalize a 3/4-acre area along an existing trail. This area is currently mowed turf and a swale area for water runoff from the adjacent neighborhood.
Farming with Pollinators: A Growing for Kane Project (Kane County): This project will help create a plan to illustrate how farm and farm-adjacent properties can best include pollinator conservation space and practices. It will also inform farm policies and practices in Kane County and the surrounding region.
Pollinator Park at Hillcrest Lake in Prospect Heights (City of Prospect Heights): This project will replace a three-acre site surrounding Hillcrest Lake with a native pollinator park by creating riparian buffers, rich in biodiversity that incorporates a trail network and interpretative signage. Currently, the site suffers from localized flooding and shoreline erosion, which leaves the area with little ecological and recreational value.
Gray Willows Farm Pollinator Habitat Improvement (Campton Township Parks): This project will support an ongoing effort to restore new habitat and enhance restored areas at Gray Willows Farm with essential native plants and seeds.
Pollinator Project at Neville Park (Foss Park District): This project will establish a portion of one of the parks as a pollinator habitat for beneficial insects. This includes installing signage to educate the public on pollinators and pollinator conservation.
2020 Native Habitats (Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District): This project will convert 22.5 acres of mowed turf grass to native habitat at Hopkins Park and Rotary Park in DeKalb County. The native habitats will provide habitat for pollinators, as well as other wildlife, and to educate the public on the importance of pollinator conservation.
DuPage County Turf to Meadow Demonstration Project (DuPage County Stormwater Management): This project will convert 3/4 acres of turf into a native meadow in a high-profile location on its campus in Wheaton, Ill. In addition to supporting pollinators, this demonstration project will educate the campus’ more than one million annual visitors on alternative options to traditional turf grass.
Maryknoll - Interpretive Pollinator Garden and Turf to Pollinator Prairie (Glen Ellyn Park District): This project will support two key locations at Maryknoll Park being planned for pollinator enhancements. A garden at the entry will be enhanced and expanded with pollinator container plants. Turf in the park will be converted to a pollinator prairie.
Beautify the Crossroads of the Midwest (Village of Dolton): This project will help beautify the Crossroads of the Midwest, currently a dilapidated parcel of land in Dolton, by pollinating the land with planting flowers, bushes and trees.
Native Restoration of Tower Lakes Nature Preserve (Village of Tower Lakes): This project will help restore the 17-acre Tower Lakes Nature Preserve, which includes oak groves, prairie and wetlands, by eliminating invasive trees and brush and seeding native plants to encourage pollinators and create education opportunities for residents.
Pollinator Meadows Across Kane County (Forest Preserve District of Kane County): This project will help turn 22 acres of formerly mowed turf, spread out across five preserves, into pollinator habitat. This effort will aid in the creation of natural corridors and promote pollinator awareness and education.
Northbrook Park District Prescribed Burn & Community Outreach Program (Village of Northbrook): This project involves completing prescribed burns of native landscaping to improve the vitality of the native landscapes and wildlife. It will also help develop educational programming and materials on native landscape care and connect with the park district’s existing programs.
Village Butterfly Gardens (Village of La Grange Park): This project will help construct multiple butterfly gardens within the La Grange Park village limits. It will also utilize village-owned green spaces to enhance awareness and education about pollinators and help beautify existing green spaces.
Lake Carroll Water Conservation and Pollinator Habitat Initiative (Lake Carroll Association): This project will provide water quality improvements using native vegetation. This is a highly visible public space that will bring awareness of the need of pollinator plants for overall environmental health to many visitors annually.
Bartlett Creek Restoration Project (Village of Bartlett): This project will help remove invasive weeds along the Bartlett Creek and replant the area with pollinators to promote pollinating species and creek stabilization.
Village of Deer Park Butterfly Garden (Village of Deer Park): This project will help enhance the Butterfly Garden at Vehe Farm Park for residents and visitors.
Village Hall Rain Garden and Bee Habitat (Village of Port Barrington): This project will create a rain garden, vegetative swale and butterfly/bee habitats to educate the public about the importance of conservation with aesthetic benefits.
Urban Pollinator Conservation (City of Waukegan): This project will establish multiple native pollinator gardens, including along a block of Sheridan Road, a trail by the lakefront and at the “Welcome to Waukegan” signs. Interpretive signage will be installed to explain the importance and significance of urban pollinator conservation.
Everts Park Rain Garden and Native Wildflower Plantings (City of Highwood): This project will help renovate Everts Park with pollinator-attracting wildflowers, shrubs turned into planting beds, and a rain garden. The planting beds will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Educational signage describing the plantings and gardening methods is also planned to encourage region-wide implementation.
Ben Miller Park Improvements (Village of German Valley): Through a volunteer initiative, this project will update an aging park with a new playground and memorial butterfly garden. So far, project volunteers have raised more than $70,000 to provide residents with a much-needed outdoor experience.
Whippoorwill Park Pollinator Gardens (Village of Mettawa): This project will enhance Whippoorwill Park, one of the most visited and easily accessible Mettawa parks, with pollinator gardens.
Edgewater Drive Rain Garden (City of Crystal Lake): This project will convert a parcel of city-owned property into a rain garden using native vegetation.
The Triangle Pollinator Habitat (City of Hickory Hills): This project will transform an unused area of turf grass into an established pollinator habitat. The habitat will support native pollinator species, educational signage and a public passive recreational area.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit openlands.org.