Chi-Cal Rivers Fund Awards $1.25 Million in Grants to Improve Waterways in the Chicago/Calumet Region

Chi-Cal Rivers Fund partners have announced six projects selected to receive $1.25 million in grant funding to improve and enhance waterways in the Chicago-Calumet region. These community-driven investments will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve access to and use of natural areas. The grants will generate $5.6 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of over $6.8 million.

Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the fund is supported in 2018 with contributions from ArcelorMittal, BNSF Railway, The Chicago Community Trust, The Crown Family, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. The grants announced today mark the fund’s sixth annual slate of grants, bringing its total cumulative impact to more than $25 million.

“The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund continues to serve as a model for how public-private partnerships can collectively enhance wildlife habitat and benefit communities,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Through collaborative funding and strategic alignment, the fund is equipping communities with tools to naturally reduce stormwater runoff, restore degraded habitat, provide a healthy environment for wildlife and offer public green spaces.”

“Our foundation values this important opportunity to partner to achieve multiple overlapping goals for improving both riparian and aquatic habitat, as well as nature-based services to the many communities along our region’s rivers,” said David Farren, executive director of Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. “By pooling our funds to coordinate on these grants, we can all accomplish more and learn from each other in the process.”

The six grants announced today will enhance and restore wetland habitat for marsh birds in the Little Calumet region, improve habitat quality at Crooked Creek, increase stormwater storage capacity in the city of Robbins, Illinois, and continue to improve habitat in Chicago and Northwest Indiana through tree planning and invasive species control. Collectively, the funded projects will:

  • ​Restore and enhance 357 acres of wetland and upland habitat
  • Control invasive species on 525 acres
  • Create and improve more than 10 acres of neighborhood green space
  • Add more than 750,000 gallons of stormwater storage

“The U.S. Forest Service is proud to be part of the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund, and is pleased to see these exciting projects get funded,” said Carleen Yocum, Northeastern Area Midwest field office representative for the U.S. Forest Service. “We believe that nature based green infrastructure projects, such as tree planting in strategic locations, are an important part of the solution for managing our region’s stormwater and flooding challenges.”

“ArcelorMittal believes that the sustainability of our local waterways is critical for advancing conservation goals, enhancing ecosystem services and supporting climate resilience for the bi-state Calumet region. The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund demonstrates a shared commitment to enhancing the sustainability and resiliency of communities throughout the region. Our support of the Fund – both as a founding member and through continued support – helps to bring this commitment to life,” said Bill Steers, general manager of corporate responsibility for ArcelorMittal. “We are proud to support the projects we were able to fund this year and would like to thank all of the many organizations that are actively contributing to conservation goals across the Calumet.”

To learn more about the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund and the six projects announced today, please visit www.nfwf.org/chi-cal.

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