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IDNR Coastal Grant Program Announces $832,244 in Grant Awards

Chris Young
IDNR Coastal Grant Program Announces $832,244 in Grant Awards
Funds Will Provide Environmental Education and Outreach and Sustainable Coastal Planning Within Illinois Coastal Zone Communities
CHICAGO � Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller today announced the awarding $832,244 in grants to environmental, education and related organizations within the IDNR�s Coastal Management Zone, which includes the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  Funds for the grant program are federal dollars administered by the IDNR.

�We can�t place a value on benefits we derive from the resources of Lake Michigan and its shoreline � from fresh water for drinking, to public recreational opportunities, to the incredible biodiversity found in northeast Illinois,� said Director Miller. �We are profoundly grateful that so many organizations share our vision to protect and enhance these precious resources.�

The IDNR is dedicated to protecting and managing the natural and cultural resources along the state�s magnificent 63-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. Illinois� coastal resources contain some of the richest, rarest and most diverse complex of plant and animal species and natural habitat areas in the state. Lake Michigan provides the public water supply to nearly 7 million Illinois residents (more than half of the state�s population). Lake Michigan draws more than 20 million visitors annually.

Fully two-thirds of the funds awarded through Coastal Management Program grants also benefit communities within the Millennium Reserve. Millennium Reserve is a transforming region with thriving commerce, communities, and wildlife in the Calumet and southeast Chicago lakefront areas. The Reserve involves dozens of local partners like these grant recipients, whose projects will help realize the region�s transformation.

Organizations and entities receiving grants must provide federal matching funds equal to the amount awarded.  A list of grant recipients and project descriptions can be found below.
Increasing early detection/ rapid response capacity for invasive plants in Lake Michigan Watershed � Chicago Botanic Garden
The project focuses on increasing capacity for invasive species early detection/rapid response in townships throughout the southwestern Lake Michigan watershed. Funding will be used to  conduct a series of  public workshops which will encourage attendees to register as �New Invader Watch Program� monitors, make online reports of populations, and share information with their colleagues.   Increasing awareness among natural resources managers and stewards will greatly benefit native plants and animals in habitats throughout the watershed.

Great Lakes Action Days: Coastal Education at Work � John G. Shedd Aquarium
This project will offer learning experiences at four key stewardship sites � 63rd Street Beach, 12th Street Beach, Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, and Illinois Beach State Park � for community-based organizations, students, corporate partners and the general public.  Funding will also help launch an �out-of-home� Great Lakes public awareness campaign for the project�s targeted communities. The program will present findings resulting from the program actions, including meetings with partners and 25 educational stewardship events.

Advancing Youth Conservation Action in the Millennium Reserve � Field Museum of Natural History
This project will allow the Field Museum�s Youth Conservation Action team to fill several key needs within the Millennium Reserve, primarily through its Earth Force program. Funding will allow 300 students and 15 educators to become well-versed environmental advocates and leaders in their communities and eventually, part of the next generation of conservation leaders. This program gives educators and students the tools to understand and to advocate for their vision within the Millennium Reserve.  Staff will also provide support with arranging field trips and pedagogical support for teachers.

William Tillman Maritime Education Program � Prologue, Inc.
The William Tillman Maritime Training and Education Program, a workforce development program, will train 30 out of school/out of work youth ages 17-25 on Chicago�s far south side. This area is in great need of a trained and skilled work force to assist in coastal economic development, encourage public access and nature-based recreation, and add value to the Little Calumet River Waterway by improving habitat in urbanized areas, providing recreational opportunities, and playing a role in the regional economy.

Great Lakes in My Community: A Conservation Initiative in Douglas � Alliance for the Great Lakes
Through this project, the Alliance for the Great Lakes will partner with Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab (SKSL) to engage teachers, students and the community members in learning about and subsequently managing their Lake Michigan coastline.  Funding will help provide a series of full-day professional development trainings for CPS teachers;  expand SKSL out-of-school day camp and leadership training programs; engage 600 students from Chicago Public School classrooms  in activities and associated Adopt-a-Beach� stewardship field trips; and, reach community members through coastal stewardship activities, Adopt-a-Beach trainings and educational presentations.

Eggers Marsh Hydrologic Restoration Planning � Forest Preserves of Cook County
This project will create a plan that restores the hydrology of the 40-acre marsh at Eggers Grove Forest Preserve.  Eggers Marsh has been identified as critical habitat for threatened wetland birds, but recent surveys show a sharp decline in nesting of these rare birds. Funding will help engage a consultant to create a hydrologic recovery plan for the site, including a site investigation and analysis and development and design of a hydrologic model. The designed plans will help achieve the objective of mimicking hemi-marsh hydrologic conditions and restore ecosystems functions. The community will be invited to provide input to the plan.

Chicago River Schools Network � Friends of the Chicago River
Chicago River Schools Network (CRSN) will conduct three workshops to engage 80 teachers, engage staff at 15 Adopt-a-River schools, and organize the Chicago River Student Congress that 350 students from 35 schools will attend. This program will impact 5,474 students directly and 12,526 students indirectly.

Millard and Moraine Parks Ravine Habitat � Park District of Highland Park
Moraine Park and Miller Park are both adjacent to Lake Michigan and both sites contain ravines.  Like many ravines and bluffs on Lake Michigan, each park has experienced significant erosion due to natural processes and the additional flow of stormwater accompanying urbanization. Funding for this project will help complete engineering design and planning to stabilize the bluffs with native plants, reduce erosion, reduce the total suspended solids (TSS) load to Lake Michigan, improve water quality, and provide habitat for fish spawning, along with a hydraulic connection from the lake to the ravines.

Waukegan Harbor AOC Sustainable Shoreline Plan � City of Waukegan
This project will allow the City of Waukegan, in coordination with the Waukegan Harbor Citizens' Advisory Group, to create a sustainable management plan addressing near shore water and habitat quality, economic development, and public access issues affecting the southernmost portion of the Waukegan Dunal Area and Lake Michigan.  The Waukegan Harbor AOC Sustainable Shoreline Plan will promote the sustainable use, management, and development of the Waukegan Harbor AOC, while protecting critically important habitat and natural resources in an underserved, Environmental Justice community.

Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards � Openlands
Funding will provide critical support for Space to Grow: Stormwater Education to recruit 490 participants, both teachers and community members, who will be trained at workshops and will learn how planting gardens and trees and installing rain barrels or permeable pavers can mimic the natural systems that prevent flooding and reduce the possibility of combined sewage overflows that deteriorate Illinois� coastal resources following a large rain event.

Nature Navigator Community Engagement Program � Chicago Wilderness Trust
The Nature Navigator Community Engagement Program is a collaborative effort to better connect Waukegan's and North Chicago's Latino and African American communities to nature-based learning programs within Illinois� Coastal Zone. Funding will allow the program to provide safe, trusted, and accessible portals to nature programs for potential participants.  The program will significantly increase and diversify participation in outdoor education, citizen science, and experiential learning offerings at state, county and local parks or nature areas.

Monarch Birds Migration and Me - Lake County � Faith in Place
Monarch, Birds, Migration and Me educates and helps recruit and retain volunteers for habitat restoration in Cook County.   Funding will allow this outreach program to expand to Lake County.  A program year includes story circles and introduction to the migration of local fauna in activities and learning sessions, supplemented by experiences in local natural areas for each season.

HCBA Storm Water Management Education Outreach Program � Historic Chicago Bungalow Association
HCBA will provide educational outreach on storm water and flooding issues to homeowners in areas near the Chicago River and Lake Michigan shore. Through the execution of 12 Storm Water Management Seminars, a walking tour, and block party workshops, the HCBA will inform homeowners of effects of climate change and how this will affect their homes/communities, educate homeowners on how storm water management and water conservation help reduce basement flooding and reduce waterway pollutants/contaminants, and  encourage homeowners to participate in building rain gardens to help mitigate effects of heavy rainfall into urban areas.
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