2019 Grant Awardees

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pleased to announce the Coastal Grant Program awardees. This program is providing more than $1,000,000 in grants for local coastal education, recreation, water quality protection and habitat restoration projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  These projects are federally funded through Illinois’ partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Zone Management Program.

Lake Calumet Trail Connection Feasibility Study - Active Transportation Alliance - $55,000
Lake Calumet is a physical barrier between the Pullman National Monument, Big Marsh Park, and other destinations to the east. Improved pedestrian and bicycle access across the lake would connect these two destinations, while also opening up new access and recreational opportunities along Lake Calumet itself. As an initial step in developing a Lake Calumet to Pullman Trail Connection, a feasibility study will be conducted to assess existing conditions, project objectives, design criteria, public input, potential alignments, and cost.

Fishing and Wildlife Education Program - Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago - $10,000
The Fishing and Wildlife Education Program provides an urban summer fishing recreation experience to approximately 800 underserved youth between the ages of five and eighteen at Palmisano Park in the Bridgeport community. The project involves busing youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across the city to the Valentine Boys & Girls Club in the Bridgeport community to participate in recreational fishing, conservationism, and wildlife activities.

Expanding Citizen Science in the Calumet Region - Chicago Academy of Sciences - $10,000
As a program of the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (CAS/PNNM), this project will enhance citizen science activities in the Calumet region by coordinating the activities of CAS/PNNM’s existing citizen science programs. Through a combination of survey route mapping and recruiting activities, investigators will map a minimum of 10 new survey. This will allow citizen scientists to submit data, and will allow landowners to download submitted data. The team will hold two recruitment events per program and 5 outreach events to disseminate results on implications for the region’s biodiversity.

Youth-Led Community Outreach - Chicago Adventure Therapy, NFP - $18,633
Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) works with under‐served youth in Chicago. Many of these young people have never seen Lake Michigan. This project will provide coach training for youth already involved in paddlesports like kayaking, canoeing, and stand‐up paddleboarding, many of whom have expressed a desire to take the sport back to their communities.

Enhancing Native Habitat Along the Calumet River at SEPA Station #1 - Chicago Park District - $93,982
Chicago Park District's natural areas restoration crew, with assistance from a contractor, will establish 10.3 acres of native woodland and wetland habitat at SEPA Station #1 in Southeast Chicago. SEPA Station #1 is a Side-stream Elevated Pool Aeration system, which utilizes vertical propeller pumps and waterfalls to increase and maintain the dissolved oxygen concentration of the water the Calumet River-Main Channel waterway.

Calumet Is My Back Yard - Chicago Public Schools - $97,035
Calumet Is My Back Yard (CIMBY), established in 1998, is an environmental education and service-learning program operated through Chicago Public Schools in partnership with The Field Museum and The Dunes Learning Center. This project will build on CIMBY’s success to implement the Jackson Park Expansion (JPE). This will strengthen the capacity of CPS high school Biology teachers in the district to implement classroom-integrated environmental service-learning projects specifically connected to coastal habitat restoration.

Evanston Ecology Center's Canoe Launch Feasibility Study for the North Shore Channel - City of Evanston - $15,000
The City of Evanston and Evanston Environmental Association (EEA), will conduct a feasibility study to determine if constructing a public access canoe launch in the North Shore Channel is a viable project. The existing wooden canoe launch is unusable due to erosion and decay; the embankment leading to the canoe launch is difficult to traverse. If the City determines the project is feasible, it will proceed with it. A new canoe launch will serve over 500 summer camp participants, provide public canoe programming to over 800 people yearly, and deliver opportunities for 12 Evanston Township High School classes to canoe twice yearly.

2019 Mighty Acorns Nature Camp for students from Illinois Coastal Zone - Dunes Learning Center - $10,000
Mighty Acorns is a school-year outreach education program that connects urban youth in the Illinois and Indiana coastal region with their local ecosystems. To extend and reinforce school-year lessons, Dunes Learning Center hosts two week-long sessions of Mighty Acorns Nature Camp in the summer. All current Mighty Acorns are invited to trade screen time for green time and experience a week of overnight camp within their local National Park for a significantly reduced rate. 

Migration & Me Program - Lake County - Faith in Place - $27,000
Faith in Place will continue to implement its Migration & Me Program - Lake County, a program that connects people of faith in economically challenged Lake County communities with nature through stories of personal journeys. The program focuses on engaging young and adult people of faith in caring for the Lake County coastal region through stewardship, and offering educational sessions to the community on the environmental degradation and its impact on human life and the community. 

Activating Beubian Woods - Field Museum of Natural History - $90,000
Activating Beaubien Woods project will strengthen connections between local community members and Beaubien Woods Forest Preserve on Chicago’s far South Side. Community surveys and planning identified a need and desire for park activation, environmental education and recreational opportunities, and creation of a welcoming Gathering Space in nature. The project brings together community members and technical experts in a participatory process to develop a culturally relevant design for a Gathering Space and programming at Beaubien Woods. The program will lead environmental education opportunities for youth and community members. And lastly, it will develop interpretive tools to help highlight local heritage stories. 

Beaubien Woods: Conservation and Youth Outdoor Ambassador Crew - Forest Preserve District of Cook County - $100,000
The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) will engage young people in restoration and activation of Beaubien Woods by creating the Beaubien Woods Conservation and Youth Outdoor Ambassador Crew. This crew merges two successful FPCC youth programs: The Conservation Corps’ Forest Preserve Experience and Youth Outdoor Ambassadors. FPCC will work with Friends of the Forest Preserves to hire 10 high school youth from the communities near Beaubien Woods to conduct restoration, public engagement and recreation activities.

Wetland Restoration in the Calumet Region - Forest Preserve District of Cook County - $50,000
The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) will improve coastal wetlands at Burnham Prairie Nature Preserve and Eggers Grove through invasive species control and a large-scale wetland plug planting. The project will also foster connections between neighboring communities and the preserves through a series of bird walks led by the Wild Indigo Nature Exploration Program. 

Building Friends of the Little Calumet River - Friends of the Forest Preserves - $25,000
Building Friends of the Little Calumet will introduce people from under-resourced communities neighboring the Little Calumet River to ways they can benefit from coastal resources near their homes. In partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and local leaders, this project will expand the number of people who use and care for the preserves. Friends of the Forest Preserves will conduct audience research and consult with local volunteers in order to inform the development of culturally relevant recreation events at Whistler Woods.

Nature Along the Lake - Friends of the Parks - $43,250
The overall goal of Friends of the Parks' (FOTP) Nature Along the Lake (NAL) is to teach children science and provide natural learning experiences in park settings. This inspires youth to be active stewards of our coastal natural resources and to make a positive contribution to the planet. The program is an environmental education program that engages K-8 children in Chicago with the Illinois Coast in their own communities. The youth develop skills, knowledge, and the ability to make well-informed choices concerning our coast.

Midwest Grows Green Lawn & Land Forum Toolkit - IPM Institute of North America, Inc. - $61,318
The IPM Institute started the Midwest Grows Green Lawn & Land Forum in 2016 to share practical, vetted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and natural lawn care (NLC) information and foster peer-to-peer learning of best practices that reduce synthetic lawn pesticide and fertilizer use in communities. The IPM Institute will integrate information from previous forum sessions into a formulated and streamlined draft toolkit. The project will scale previous Forum successes to reach more policymakers and practitioners, initiate actionable discussions of IPM and NLC, and implement those policies or action plans.

Conserving Coastal Habitat and Native Species in the Illinois Lake Plain - Lake County Forest Preserve District - $82,000
The Illinois Lake Plain is a unique coastal dune and swale system comprised of diverse community types, including regionally significant wet prairies, dunes, sand savannas, beach, and dry sand prairies, providing habitat for over 400 plant and 250 animal species (55 of which are state-listed and five are federally-listed). This project expands upon ten years of successful partnership by public and private landowners to improve high-quality natural areas through removal and chemical treatment of pervasive and disruptive invasive species.

Coastal Education and Engagement - Lake Forest Open Lands Association - $75,000
Lake Forest Open Lands Association (“LFOLA”) will develop a comprehensive Lake Michigan curriculum that will be delivered across diverse communities in the coastal region of northern Illinois. The project will combine elements of education, awareness, recreation, and stewardship to engage a broad range of demographic groups in the greater understanding, use, care, and enjoyment of the Lake Michigan shore area.

Wild Indigo Building Community Leadership around Wetlands and Lakeshore Conservation - National Audubon Society - $89,120
Audubon Great Lakes’ (AGL) Wild Indigo Nature Explorations program will build community awareness and support for wetlands and lakeshore habitats in two coastal communities: Chicago’s Southeast side and Waukegan/North Chicago. This project will develop events for a multi‐generational audience that, via community science, recreation, and stewardship, will foster a deeper connection to coastal natural habitats. AGL will establish a monitoring program of Calumet wetlands and develop ambassadors who will advocate for healthy watersheds.

Beach Management Plan for Park District of Highland Park’s Four Public Beach Properties - Park District of Highland Park - $17,500
The increasingly dynamic lakefront has challenged the existing maintenance protocols for the Park District of Highland Park’s four lakefront public parks and created the need for a comprehensive beach management plan. ThePark District of Highland Park will develop a comprehensive beach management plan to sustainably guide lakefront maintenance efforts, permitting, operational policy, and capital improvements at each of its four lakefront parks.

Southern Lake Michigan Canoemobile Hub - Wilderness Inquiry - $31,986
Wilderness Inquiry will connect 1,500 underserved youth and individuals with disabilities to place‐based outdoor education on waterways within the Great Lakes Watershed, such as Lake Michigan, Beaubien Woods, Calumet River, Skokie Lagoons, and more. This hands‐on environmental learning engages youth to improve school performance and environmental literacy, and cultivates a stewardship ethic through direct experiences on Lake Michigan waters.

Great Lake, Great Library: Hands On Nature Learning through ZBPL - Zion Benton Public Library - $19,000
The project will address environmental education and access needs in the Zion‐Benton Public Library community. With this grant, the library will increase information on, and access to, the area’s natural resources by (1) designing an imaginative lake ecology themed family learning area in the library, (2) offering educational programming at the beach and at the library and (3) creating a special book collection on coastal subjects and stories.