2014 Grant Awardees

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pleased to announce the Coastal Grant Program awardees. This program is providing more than $830,000 in grants for local environmental education and planning projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the Millennium Reserve-Calumet region, utilizing federal funds thought the Illinois Coastal Management Program.

Project Location Maps
Lake County and North Shore
Chicago and Evanston
South Chicago and Millennium Reserve

Increasing early detection/ rapid response capacity in the Lake Michigan Watershed – Chicago Botanic Garden- $15,008

The proposed project focuses on increasing capacity for early detection/rapid response in townships throughout the southwestern Lake Michigan watershed. The Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) will provide natural areas management staff and regional volunteer stewards with New Invaders Watch Program (NIWP) training to increase their ability to identify and report terrestrial invasive plants that are new to the region when populations are small and can be easily eradicated before they have large ecological and economic impacts

Great Lakes Action Days: Coastal Education at Work – John G. Shedd Aquarium- $136,705

Under the umbrella of our Great Lakes Initiative, Shedd’s proposed project, Great Lakes Action Days:  Coastal Education at Work, strives to preserve these connections, educating and inspiring diverse audiences throughout Cook and Lake Counties. The project plan is two-fold: 1.) 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; and 2.) launch an “out-of-home” Great Lakes public awareness campaign for the project’s targeted communities. Under the guiding principle of conservation education through action, the project’s audience will get to work:  beach sweeps, restoration efforts and ecological monitoring, all at sites along an urbanized shoreline.

Advancing Youth Conservation Action in the Millennium Reserve – Field Museum of Natural History- $83,991

This project will allow the Field Museum’s Youth Conservation Action team to fill several key needs in the Millennium Reserve primarily through its Earth Force program. A series of educator trainings partnered with ongoing pedagogical support will allow for 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 of a triple bottom line of community/environment/economy within the Millennium Reserve. The Earth Force approach provides a suite of community needs assessment and problem solving skills by providing a set of climate change education tools tailored to fit the needs of this region.

William Tillman Maritime Education Program – Prologue, Inc. $150,000

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, primarily African-American youth, on Chicago’s far south side. The Tillman program will train, and certify at risk, high need youth in maritime science and technology, and immerse them in a coastal and riparian setting to gain employable skills and develop career pathways in maritime technology, waterway safety, and conservation stewardship.

Great Lakes in My Community: A Conservation Initiative in Douglas – Alliance for the Great Lakes $67,084

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. This will leverage and expand the Alliance’s existing Great Lakes in My World curricular resource and the Adopt-a-Beach program, as well as SKSL programming and relationships with youth, teachers and citizens in Douglas.  Specifically, the Alliance and SKSLY will 1) Provide a series of four full-day professional development trainings for CPS teachers; 2) Expand SKSL out-of-school (OOS), day camp and leadership training programs to integrate effective watershed education; 3) Engage 600 students from 20 CPS classrooms, and 128 students (64 each year) from SKSL in Great Lakes in My World curricular activities and associated Adopt-a-Beach™ stewardship field trips; and, 4) Reach at minimum 180 community members through coastal stewardship activities, Adopt-a-Beach trainings and educational presentations.

Eggers Marsh Hydrologic Restoration Planning – Forest Preserves of Cook County $26,000

The Forest Preserves of Cook County, in partnership with the Field Museum, proposes to 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. The decline is attributable to altered hydrology and a water control system that once maintained water flow in the marsh is now defunct, resulting in a change of water flow patterns that have led to an increase in the abundance and distribution of invasive plant species. The ideal "hemi-marsh" habitat of cattails, bulrushes, and other emergent vegetation has degraded to become a deep water site with poor habitat structure filled with invasive plants. This project proposes to engage a hydrologic consultant who would 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 $30,268

Chicago River Schools Network (CRSN) works in partnership with K-12 teachers to introduce young people to the turbulent history, evolving ecology, and improving health of the river. Friends of the Chicago River education staff provides one-on-one support for teachers, sharing techniques and strategies to engage students in local environmental issues and activities that solve everyday problems that the river faces. Friends complements this individual support with curricula and lesson plans, classroom presentations, field trip assistance, book and equipment loans, service learning projects, and educator workshops.

Millard and Moraine Parks Ravine Habitat – Park District of Highland Park $39,452

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. The goal of the project is to 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. The project, once implemented, will also provide improved aesthetics for the stormwater outfall into the lake through a naturalization and daylighting of the channels through the removal of a culvert. Additionally, this project will include the planning necessary to repair and improve an environmentally-friendly public access walkway to reduce pedestrian damage to vegetation and upgrade a parking area with stormwater management features such as a bio-swale. 

Waukegan Harbor AOC Sustainable Shoreline Plan – City of Waukegan $150,000

The City of Waukegan, in coordination with the Waukegan Harbor Citizens' Advisory Group, are seeking to create a sustainable management plan addressing near shore water and habitat quality, economic development, and public access issues affecting the southern-most 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 under-served, Environmental Justice community. The plan addresses: a) non-point source pollution and health impairing contaminants carried by run-off from the parking lot and Sea Horse Drive and litter from recreation beach users, b) necessity for infrastructure to increase and encourage public access and nature based recreation, by designing a shared use trail connecting the coastal area to the train station, as well as the downtown area and bus stops, and c) necessary infrastructure planning to support coastal economic development in this former industrial area.

Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards – Openlands $21,650

Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards is an innovative program to transform Chicago schoolyards into inviting green open spaces that provide students, their families and the broader community with the opportunity for active play, space for physical education classes, opportunities for outdoor learning, gardening and environmental literacy, and engagement with art. While the main objective of Space to Grow is to build schoolyards that meet the needs of students, these green schoolyards will have the added benefit of reconnecting communities with their local public schools; providing much-needed green space in otherwise heavily urbanized neighborhoods; and, significantly contributing to a reduction in stormwater runoff across the city. Workshops will be held for teachers and community members on the use of gardens, trees, rain barrels, and permeable pavers to mimic natural systems and manage stormwater.

Nature Navigator Community Engagement Program – Chicago Wilderness Trust $45,208

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, science, recreation, and stewardship activities within the Lake County portion of the Illinois Coastal Zone. The program's central component is a Nature Navigator who serves as a bridge to groups traditionally underrepresented in nature-based programs. The program will significantly increase and diversify participation in STEM, outdoor education, citizen science, and experiential learning offerings at state, county and local parks or nature areas, and serve as a blueprint for engaging diverse communities in nature-based programs on the entire length of the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline.

Monarch Birds Migration and Me - Lake County – Faith in Place $10,000

Monarch, Birds, Migration and Me educates and helps recruit and retain volunteers for habitat restoration in the coastal zone region. It focuses on underserved communities where environmental engagement may not be a habit. Personal stories of human migration are explored and connected to stories of the migration of local songbirds, monarch butterflies and even dragonflies. This grant will bring the program to congregations in Lake County.  The project will include 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 $56,880

HCBA will provide educational outreach on storm water and flooding issues to homeowners in areas near Chicago River and Michigan Lakeshore. Through the execution of 12 Storm Water Management Seminars, a walking tour, and block party workshops the HCBA will work towards the following goals: 1) Inform homeowners of effects of climate change and how this will affect their homes/communities 2) Educate homeowners on how storm water management and water conservation helps reduce basement flooding and reduces waterway pollutants/contaminants. 3) Encourage homeowners to participate in building rain gardens to help mitigate effects of heavy rain fall into urban areas.