Map of Model Projects (PDF, 1.1 MB)
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pleased to announce the inaugural round of annual Model Projects selection for the Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core initiative. These model projects represent the scope and depth of Millennium Reserve, from small in scope and geography to large-scale and complex. All are current or planned activities predominantly led by Millennium Reserve partner agencies and achieve strategic goals and outcomes consistent with the Reserve vision and values – specifically the ecology, economy, and communities of the Calumet region. The aggregate budget of model projects is $11.6 million from a wide range of private and public funding sources, including just $21,100 as well as modest staff support and supplies from IDNR.
River Volunteer Stewardship Program: Kickapoo Woods Demonstration Site
Lead Agency: Friends of the Chicago River
Current partners on this project include the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Calumet Stewardship Initiative, and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. The River Volunteer Stewardship Program (RVSP) provides stewardship opportunities to empower and inform future Chicago River advocates; promote and implement sustainable green technologies along and beyond the river’s edge; and increase public appreciation for the river while fostering a more diverse and unified community. Until last year, the five-acre Kickapoo Woods site was an unmanaged open natural space. Through eight RVSP workshops and 10 volunteer workdays this year, Friends of the Chicago River is recruiting, training, and coordinating community members to begin transforming the site. The RVSP site management plan includes invasive vegetation removal; stream bank, stream shelf, and upland native plant restoration; and the construction of storm water BMPs. Kickapoo Woods is also a demonstration site where volunteers as well as the broader community can return again and again to see the site change over time as the impact of restoration and best management practices become tangible.
Off the Beaten Path Eco-Tours
Lead Agency: Southeast Environmental Task Force
These 2.5 to three-hour tours highlight natural areas, ecological restoration work, and industrial sites on the Southeast side of Chicago. Participants are introduced to the natural beauty of wetlands and prairies nestled between working waterways, toxic industries, and brownfields. Tours originate at the Chicago Cultural Center or Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) office and follow with lunch at a Calumet area restaurant offering local color and flavor. The spring to fall 2012 season includes four themes and tours for a target audience of 400. SETF expects to offer eight public tours in 2013 in addition to tours for private groups.
Burnham Prairie Restoration
Lead Agency: US Army Corps of Engineers
In partnership with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the US Army Corps of Engineers is restoring 93 acres of marsh, sedge meadow, savanna, wet prairie, and wet-mesic prairie. Local hydrology will be restored with the construction of a berm to prevent floodwaters from impacting groundwater-fed wetlands. Together, the incorporation of soil amendments and reduction of floodwaters will reduce the deposition and retention of excessive nutrients. Additional restoration measures include invasive species removal, woodlands clearing, selective shrubs clearing, prescribed burns, native species planting, and fencing installation. The project is expected to generate 12 new jobs in private industry.
Blue Island Rain Barrel Initiative
Lead Agency: City of Blue Island and Metropolitan Planning Council
Current partners on this project include City of Blue Island, Metropolitan Planning Council, University of Illinois Extension-Cook County, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Blue Island Park District, US Green Buildings Council, OAI, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Rain barrels will be installed at public buildings and private homes in the northeasternmost neighborhood of Blue Island. Barrels will be installed by students in area workforce training programs as well as volunteers from the neighborhood and other organizations. A total of 200 barrels will be installed in 2012. IDNR will work with Blue Island and the University of Illinois Extension to install native plant gardens in 2012 and 2013. Educational programming on use of the barrels and other gardening topics will be provided. Master gardener trainees will be recruited in the community, with a goal of certifying three master gardeners in the neighborhood by 2013.
Millennium Reserve Roots
Lead Agency: Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Millennium Reserve Roots is a neighborhood habitat program that connects individuals with the natural resources of Millennium Reserve on a personal and "backyard" scale. The 2012 pilot season has begun, with the goal of planting native habitat at 10 demonstration sites. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is providing materials, native plant installation, small interpretive signs, and know-how to site owners. The modest sites average 100 square feet. Each was selected in part due to proximity (therefore ecological connectivity) with other Roots sites or existing natural areas. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and IDNR are working as partners to develop, fund, and implement this program.
Northerly Island Restoration
Lead Agency: US Army Corps of Engineers
In partnership with the Chicago Park District, the US Army Corps of Engineers will restore approximately 40 acres of savanna, wet and mesic prairie, emergent marsh, pond, and lacustrine habitat. Soil contouring and amendments will be used to form the pond and the respective habitat types. Restoration measures will greatly benefit a wide variety of resident and migratory birds via a complex habitat mosaic. In addition, native fish species will also benefit from the additional spawning and forage habitat in the pond and lacustrine ecosystems. The Chicago Park District is the non-federal sponsor for this project. The project is expected to generate 66 new jobs in private industry.
Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps
Lead Agency: Friends of the Forest Preserves
In partnership with the the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and Student Conservation Association, Friends of the Forest Preserves is eradicating invasive species on 227-acres at four Calumet Forest Preserves using a conservation corps model. The five local participants were trained and hired from diverse communities and will be working at the sites for two years. The project sites harbor significant biological diversity including listed species, but also suffer from environmental justice issues. Participants are gaining valuable conservation skills, which may lead to a long-term career in conservation. Local community members also have the opportunity to contribute to the project work at volunteer stewardship events held at the project sites. The project is funded by the US EPA through its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Calumet Water Trails Brochure
Lead Agency: Openlands
Openlands will design and produce a brochure for water trails in the Calumet region to raise public awareness about these trails and promote water trails use. The brochure will include detailed maps and information about where to paddle (promoting eco-tourism), where to rent canoes and kayaks (promoting local businesses), and the skill level needed for paddling different stretches (promoting safety). It will emphasize the connection of the Lake Michigan Water Trail and Calumet Water Trail as well as promote Millennium Reserve as a destination region. Project partners will include Northeastern Illinois Water Trail Council and its members.
Lead Agency: City of Chicago
Program partners on this project include Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Field Museum, Calumet Stewardship Initiative, and Chicago Wilderness. Greencorps Chicago (GC) is the City of Chicago’s green job training program for individuals with barriers to employment. The GC crew will work on invasive species control at 15 sites in Millennium Reserve. GC trainees earn a wage while receiving classroom instruction and gaining valuable field experience. The Millennium Reserve crew will assist numerous partner agencies and landholders including the Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, IDNR, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and municipalities. As a result of 260 workdays for the crew, the GC trainee team will remove 3,500+ pounds of herbaceous and 100,000+ pounds of woody invasive plants; complete ten prescribed burns covering 200 acres; and earn professional certifications for restoration-related employment. Trainees will also receive assistance with permanent employment placement following completion of the program.
Midlothian Creek Green Infrastructure Plan
Lead Agency: Chicago Wilderness
Chicago Wilderness’ Sustainable Watershed Action Team (SWAT) of Weaver Boos Consultants, South Suburban Mayors and Managers GIS Atlas, the Field Museum, and IDNR are working together to identify green infrastructure elements within the Midlothian Creek watershed, a tributary to the Little Calumet River. Green Infrastructure is a strategically planned and managed network of natural lands, working landscapes, and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits such as flood reduction and outdoor recreation to human populations, while allowing for sustainable economic development. The Midlothian Creek Green Infrastructure Plan will be exploring adoptable strategies that enhance the communities and reduce infrastructure burdens with the watershed communities of Blue Island, Midlothian, Robbins, and others. SWAT will map various opportunities to mitigate flooding, improve quality of life, and promote economic development using sustainable land use concepts. The project is funded by a grant from Boeing.
Mighty Acorns Program: Calumet Partnership
Lead Agency: The Field Museum
In partnership with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), 400 fourth through sixth grade students from five Calumet region schools will participate in the Field Museum’s Mighty Acorns program. This includes classroom preparation and site study at Calumet region forest preserves and William Powers State Recreation Area. Students will visit William Powers during fall, winter, and spring to learn ecological concepts, participate in stewardship, and have free time to explore in nature. The Calumet partnership will increase the capacity of the program and engage more students in stewardship activities.
Burnham Wildlife Corridor
Lead Agency: Chicago Park District
In partnership with the Field Museum and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this project will ecologically enhance and convert 60 acres of parkland into woodland, savanna, and prairie habitats. Project volunteers will plant more than 100,000 native trees. Additional restoration and enhancement measures include invasive species removal, weed tree clearing, native species planting, interpretive signage, trail creation, and development of a site management plan. The project is funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Field Museum is taking the lead in assisting the Park District to develop conservation targets and a management plan for this natural area.