ComEd, Openlands Award $200,000 in Environmental Grants to 23 Communities Across Northern Illinois

·8 min read

10th annual ComEd Green Region Program helps communities build climate resilience

CHICAGO, August 18, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To support natural habitats and other green-space projects, particularly those that help mitigate the impacts of climate change, ComEd and Openlands today announced they have awarded individual, one-time grants of up to $10,000 each to 23 organizations through the annual ComEd Green Region Program. The grants will fund projects that support and improve natural areas in northern Illinois, including those that focus on enhancing pollinator habitats and protecting species like butterflies and bees.

"ComEd has a long history of supporting organizations and communities in improving climate resiliency and protecting pollinators and green spaces in Illinois," said Gil Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. "Partnering with Openlands for the last 10 years has helped fuel community-driven sustainability projects that enhance parks, protect vulnerable habitats and improve quality of life throughout our region. We are proud to be surrounded by communities and partners who are committed to cultivating a greener future for Illinois."

Now in its tenth year, ComEd and Openlands’ Green Region Grant program has deployed over $1.9 million to communities and organizations in northern Illinois. This funding has supported the development of more than 82,000 feet of ADA-accessible trails, planted more than 38,000 trees and improved more than 1,400 acres of land. ComEd funds the program, and Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan environmental conservation organizations in the nation, administers the grants to local communities and organizations.

"For 10 years, the ComEd Green Region grant has helped communities across northern Illinois improve the health and vibrancy of their parks and natural areas," said Jerry Adelmann, CEO of Openlands. "From planting native trees and plants to creating new gardens and natural areas, thousands of people have engaged with nature close to home through this innovative program. As the impacts of climate change increasingly affect northern Illinois communities, Openlands is proud to partner with ComEd to support projects that encourage natural climate solutions."

ComEd and Openlands made today’s announcement at the West Pullman Park Natural Area in Chicago, the site of a recently completed conservation project made possible by a previous grant. The Chicago Park District used a Green Region Grant awarded in 2019 to improve the existing Natural Area at West Pullman Park. The project included the installation of six native trees and shrubs, nearly 600 native flowering plants and three acres worth of native seeds to increase biodiversity and provide an abundance of food sources for pollinators. The Green Region grant funded all the new plants and volunteers through the Chicago Conservation Program, and the West Pullman Cultural Center supported the seeding and planting events.

Focused investments in biodiversity and sustainability align with the growing trend of community restoration in West Pullman, leveraging the support of businesses, residents and local leaders.

"Having partners like ComEd and Openlands who are committed to improving green spaces throughout our communities are critical for the implementation of impactful sustainability projects throughout Illinois," said Anthony Beale, 9th Ward Alderman, Chicago. "Not only did this funding help improve biodiversity and create a healthy habitat for local pollinators in West Pullman, but it also brought together dedicated members of the neighborhood to bring new life to a long-cherished green space."

"Generous support from ComEd and Openlands infused life into the West Pullman Park Natural Area, which continues to reap the rewards from the 2019 investment in the revitalization of the urban green space," said Rosa Escareño, Chicago Park District Superintendent & CEO. "As the Natural Area continues to grow, so do the experience-based outdoor learning after-school programs, and opportunities to educate visitors about the importance of plant biodiversity in our parks to support the existence of pollinators."

Details of the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at Openlands.org/GreenRegion.

The 23 ComEd Green Region Program grant recipients for 2022 are:

Jericho Lake Park Floodplain Restoration (Aurora): This project is the first of a multi-phase effort to convert 17.6 acres of turfgrass and invasive species into a natural area adjacent to Blackberry Creek. This will increase native vegetation presence and ecosystem resiliency.

6th Street Waterway Improvements (Belvidere): This project will clean and restore functionality to an existing waterway. The planning improvements for this open space will also incorporate pollinator conservation and climate resiliency concepts.

Gross Park Native and Pollinator Urban Park Revitalization (Chicago): This project will revitalize garden beds in the Rosco Park neighborhood with native and pollinator-friendly plants, improve a local walking path and modernize signage to help educate the community on the importance of these areas.

Harambee Community Garden Child-Friendly Butterfly Sanctuary (Chicago): This project will create a pollinator paradise of trees, shrubs and perennials integrated into established nature play trails on in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Additionally, the project will include age-appropriate to educate children on the importance of pollinator conservation.

Homan Rails & Prairie Restoration (Chicago): This project will support restoration and revitalization efforts for the pollinator prairie at Homan Rails Farm in the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago. The prairie will be open to visitors and provide education on the environmental benefits of the pollinator prairie.

One Straw Community Garden (Chicago): This project will support the development of an informational kiosk, printed educational material and garden signage highlighting the importance of sustainable and self-sufficient green space design to support climate resilience in the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago.

Stockyards Gardens (Chicago): This project will establish a 36,000-square-foot urban farm and pollinator habitat for the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago. The site will also host educational programming and community events for local schools and organizations.

Kishwaukee Fen Nature Preserve Restoration (DeKalb): This project will restore 27 acres of land currently overrun with invasive and malignant species. This funding will equip the local restoration community to care for the biodiversity of this nature preserve.

Dundee Township Open Space Outreach & Engagement Project (East Dundee): This project will support the township’s goal of educating more residents and visitors about the importance of its existing open space properties, including a variety of pollinator habitats.

College of DuPage Pollinator Habitats to Address Climate Change (Glen Ellyn): This project will convert 15,000 square feet of turfgrass into a diverse perennial pollinator habitat. Planning efforts will be driven by student and community members who are already managing 40 acres of natural space on the campus.

Reestablishing Illinois Prairie Land: Ongoing Tallgrass Prairie Restoration at Charlotte Codo Prairie (Joliet): This project will fund the transformation of 17 acres of agricultural land into a native tallgrass prairie habitat. This endeavor will support local pollinators, restore soil health, increase local biodiversity and assist in climate resiliency research.

Flint Creek Restoration (Lake Barrington): This project will extend a streambank restoration across two areas of the Flint Creek Savanna. Native plants will replace non-native species to improve stabilization, pollinator habitats and water quality.

Goetz Wetland Rehabilitation and Pollinator Enhancement (Lake Bluff): This project will rehabilitate pivotal wetland habitats by eradicating non-native species and installing wetland, emergent and woodland species—increasing the diversity of native species that support pollinators and migratory birds.

Kildare Restoration Project (Libertyville): This project will restore a nine-acre parcel into a functioning, resilient and publicly accessible native environment through the planting of native vegetation. This will enhance the wetlands along Bull Creek and improve overall water quality.

Native Garden Educational Signage (Libertyville): This project will install educational signage for the Village of Libertyville Native Garden, further connecting the community to nature.

Phase II – Canalside Pollinator Habitat (Lockport): This project will enhance pollinator habitats along the Illinois & Michigan Canal, where four major rivers converge, install educational signage highlighting natural features and develop public educational programming about pollinator habitats.

Historic Downtown Long Grove Covered Bridge Conservancy and Park (Long Grove): This project will transform an undeveloped open space into an outdoor sanctuary for native plants, shrubs, flowers and insects. This will enhance pollination and house a new walking trail, enabling visitors to enjoy the new space.

Washington & Van Buren Street Pollinator Conservation Project (Oswego): This project will add new soil, mulch, bug hotels, native flowers and trees to village-owned land, creating a safe habitat for pollinator species.

Wetland Restoration at Boger Bog Conservation Area (Richmond): This project will take place over multiple years to restore the natural hydrology of the rare graminoid fen wetland in McHenry County. Funding from this grant will support the first phase of engineering for the project.

Illinois Prairie Pollinator Rain Garden (St. Charles): This project will build a publicly accessible Prairie Pollinator Rain Garden in the shape of Illinois, creating space to share natural resources with the community and establish new pollinator habitats.

Veteran’s Memorial Garden (University Park): This project will add a garden along the Veteran’s Memorial Wall in University Park, utilizing native plants to enrich the biodiversity of the area, build climate resilience and provide a pollinator sanctuary.

City of Warrenville Trailhead Project (Warrenville): This project will enhance the land adjacent to the Illinois Prairie Path to serve as a place for community members to rest, relax, and enjoy the city’s pollinator habitat garden.

Legacy Park Pollinator Habitat (Willow Springs): This project will expand and enhance Legacy Garden Park into an established pollinator habitat. The park will support native pollinator species and include education signage on the importance of pollinators.

ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 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.

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