11th annual ComEd Green Region Program allocates nearly $200,000 to support development of green spaces across northern Illinois
CHICAGO (Aug. 15, 2023) – To prepare for a cleaner energy future and make necessary improvements to natural habitats and open green spaces in our communities, ComEd and Openlands today announced the 25 recipients of the 2023 Green Region Grant Program. The one-time grants of up to $10,000 each, totaling $199,021, will support nature preservation, mitigate climate change, and provide safe habitats for pollinators and other wildlife.
“At ComEd, we strive to support our communities in ways that go beyond safely delivering electricity,” said Louie Binswanger, ComEd’s senior vice president of government, regulatory and external affairs. “The opportunity to give back directly to surrounding nature makes a tangible difference in the lives of our customers, which is why we’re proud to partner with groups like Openlands to invest in public spaces.”
Since the launch of the Green Region grant program in 2012, the program has provided a total of $2.1 million in green space improvements for communities and organizations in northern Illinois. This funding has supported the development of more than 82,000 feet of Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible trails, planted more than 38,000 trees and improved more than 1,400 acres of land. Funding is provided through ComEd, and Openlands, a historic and nationally recognized environmental conservation organization, administers the grants to surrounding communities.
“We are proud to work with ComEd and once again make fulfilling improvements to nature in the Chicagoland area,” said Jerry Adelmann, CEO of Openlands. “By fostering pollinator populations, planting trees, conducting seed research and upkeeping natural areas, we not only improve the quality of public spaces but also enhance native habitat which helps fight against climate change and the loss of biodiversity.”
Details of the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at Openlands.org/GreenRegion.
The 25 recipients of the 2023 ComEd Green Region Grant Program are:
Wynnfield Detention Naturalization (Algonquin): This grant will help the village convert a 4.6-acre turf grass dry bottom basin to a naturalized basin using native pollinator species to enhance the wildlife habitat, increase site aesthetics, and provide ecosystem benefits to the community.
Oakhurst Community Recreational Path/Waubonsie Creek Trail Intersection (Aurora): This grant will help the Oakhurst Community Association remove dead, diseased and non-native trees where paths intersect. The path is currently overgrown and presents a risk on heavily used trail systems on the Waubonsie Creek Trail. It will also fund the addition of benches along the path and new pollinator plants.
31st Street Native Plantings and Trees Project (Berwyn): This grant will help the city of Berwyn enhance its urban environment while supporting natural wildlife. Adjacent to the police station and Berwyn’s recreational department, plantings and signage will allow residents and visitors to understand the local community’s role in the ecosystem and its importance in a changing climate.
Habitat Restoration for Marsh Birds, Pollinators, and People at Indian Ridge Marsh North (Chicago): This grant will support the Wetlands Initiative’s restoration efforts at Indian Ridge Marsh, an important remnant wetland on Chicago’s Southeast side. The Chicago Park District and Wetlands Initiative will reestablish resilient, diverse habitats, benefiting wetland-dependent birds, pollinators, and the surrounding community at this public preserve.
Climate Resiliency and Pollinator Conservation through Urban Community Gardens (Chicago): This grant will help the Chicago Park District provide education and resources to community garden groups. This will help support climate change resilience and pollinator conservation strategies through stewardship of garden spaces in Chicago’s parks.
The Entrance Gardens at Farm in the Zoo (Chicago): This grant will help the Lincoln Park Zoo fund new garden installations at the entrance to its Farm in the Zoo. The current space is dominated by non-native plants, including turf grass. This garden will be transformed into native, pollinator-friendly plantings with interpretive signage encouraging guests to do the same.
Crystal Lake Park District’s Nature Center Pollinator Garden (Crystal Lake): This grant will help the Crystal Lake Park District fund the development of a new pollinator garden. These pollinator plants will provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and bees, enabling visitors to experience nature and learn how to create their own pollinator garden.
Prairie Pollinator Habitat and Pond Filter Creation (Davis Junction): This grant will help the village of Davis Junction install a half-acre of diverse native wet prairie to increase pollinator habitats, filter runoff to the park pond, educate the public about natural areas and reduce mowing emissions.
Chapel Hill Pond Natural Restoration (Deer Park): This grant will help the village of Deer Park fund Plant Chapel Hill, a public event that will complete the restoration of a pond and woodlands connecting Cuba March with Chapel Hill Lake Park. Village residents will install aquatic and woodland plantings that support pollinators and provide a habitat corridor to nearby waystations and habitats.
Patriots Park Pollinator Habitat Restoration (Downers Grove): This grant will help the Downers Grove Park District fund the installation of native planting areas in the Patriots Park landscape, which will enhance park-goers’ experiences. The installation will include a new landscape of native vegetation, a place to observe wildlife utilizing the enhanced habitat and a chance to “un-plug” in nature.
Indigenous Medicine and Pollinator Garden Signage (Evanston): This grant will support the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian’s collaboration with tribal leaders and Indigenous botanists to create signage for the Indigenous Medicine and Pollinator Garden to share the languages, perspectives, and traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge for the garden’s visitors.
Outerbelt Trail (Flossmoor): This grant will help the Outerbelt Alliance fund the purchase and deployment of new trail markers on the 210-mile hiking trail and promote public events highlighting physical activity and community building for Chicagoland residents.
Butterfly & Blanding’s Turtle Habitat Improvements (Geneva): This grant will help the Kane Forest Preserve Foundation transform 7.53 acres of primarily non-native vegetation into quality pollinator habitat at Freeman Kame Forest Preserve. This change will provide year-round support for a variety of pollinators, and nesting opportunity for native turtles.
Oak Savanna at Big Rock Forest Preserve (Geneva): This grant will help the Kane County Forest Preserve District transform 17 acres of degraded prairie into oak savanna at Big Rock Forest Preserve in Geneva. Additionally, it will create and connect pollinator corridors, boost pollinator awareness and education and restore integral ecosystems.
Pollinator Hubs (Glenview): This grant will help the village of Glenview support local pollinator habitats by planting two acres of native plants to boost biodiversity and climate resiliency, engaging the community and illustrating the interdependence of green and gray infrastructure for improving urban ecology while providing a safe habitat for local pollinators.
The Grove’s Prairie Enhancement and Public Engagement (Glenview): This grant will help the Glenview Park District enhance existing prairie ecosystems with diverse and regionally sourced plants and seed. It will also incorporate portable story frames around the ecosystem to keep the public engaged with an assortment of environmental topics throughout the year.
Butler Lake – Southern Shoreline Restoration (Libertyville): This grant will help Community High School District 128 restore the shoreline along a public trail by replacing invasive plants with diverse native plants that are recommended for ecological importance to benefit pollinators and wildlife.
Floral Resources for Early Season Pollinators (Libertyville): This grant will help the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves install nectar-producing native plant plugs to support pollinators, replacing invasive plant species at the Greenbelt Forest Preserve. This will improve pollinator habitats and enhance overwintering habitats.
Spring Lake Park Blue Star Memorial Revitalization Project (Lincolnshire): This grant will help the village of Lincolnshire revitalize the Lincolnshire Garden Club’s Blue Star Memorial, honoring all U.S. armed service members. The new design will replace overgrown foliage with a new Monarch Butterfly Waystation Garden, which will include hundreds of native plants and flowers.
Creating Native Prairie Habitat at Whistler Woods (Riverdale): This grant will help the Friends of the Forest Preserves purchase native seeds to be distributed by volunteers across 9.5 acres at Whistler Woods in Riverdale, owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
Municipal Center Grounds South Woodland Native Area Restoration (Schaumburg): This grant will help the village of Schaumburg restore its municipal grounds forest area, which is currently overrun with invasive species, to a native woodland savanna. Restoration work will include the removal of woody invasives, construction of a new mulched path and planting native trees and shrubs to provide a safe habitat for area pollinators.
Native Wildflower Meadow and Pollinator Project (Toluca): This grant will help the Toluca Coal Mine Preservation and Development Association create an educational native plant and pollination meadow, supported by 179 students from Fieldcrest Intermediate School, Community Unit School District #6. New walking trails will open opportunities for learning about pollinators and educational signage will further enhance learning at this location.
Waterman Butterfly and Toddler Gardens (Waterman): This grant will help the village of Waterman enhance existing pollinator conservation efforts at the Butterfly Garden by removing invasive plants and adding pollinating shade trees, milkweed, verbena and bug hotels.
Level II Arboretum (Wheaton): This grant will help the Theosophical Society in America fund the purchase and planting of 50 trees for a 42-acre, 900-tree Level II public arboretum. Native trees that sustain pollinators, birds and mammals will be prioritized. Public education efforts in this space will include a smartphone-based research tool for arboretum visitors and tree tours.
Edens Pollinator Corridor Restoration (Wilmette): This grant will help the village of Wilmette expand the Edens Pollinator Corridor by converting 1.73 acres of turfgrass adjacent to the Edens Expressway into dedicated pollinator habitat. This change will enhance open space, improve stormwater infiltration, and encourage pollinator conservation through educational signage.