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Northern Illinois communities awarded environmental grants

CHICAGO – To support habitats and other open-space projects throughout northern Illinois, ComEd and Openlands on Aug. 19 announced grants to 26 public agencies through the annual ComEd Green Region Program.

Grantees each receive a one-time grant of up to $10,000 to support and improve open-space projects.

To address the recent decline in pollinators, many of this year’s projects focus on enhancing pollinator habitats and protecting species such as butterflies and bees. Illinois is home to thousands of native pollinator species that provide critical support to the region’s flowering and food plant populations.

Since the inception of the Green Region Program in 2013, ComEd has awarded more than $1.5 million to municipalities across northern Illinois. This support has helped fund nearly 200 open-space projects, as well as restore and protect about 1,000 acres of land.

ComEd provides the funding for the Green Region Program. Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation, administers the grants to local communities.

“Every year, the Green Region Program reminds us of the power of investment in local environmental projects to provide customers and communities with their own, unique green spaces,” said Melissa Washington, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. “With each grant, ComEd, alongside Openlands, helps ensure the enhancement of green space and biodiversity, while creating a lasting impact in the communities we’re so privileged to serve.”

“Over the past seven years, we’ve seen the incredible impact the ComEd Green Region Program has made in communities across northern Illinois,” said Jerry Adelmann, Openlands president and CEO. “Now more than ever, we know how vital open natural areas are for our health and well-being. Through the leadership and cooperation of ComEd, we’ve supported the creation and sustainability of 189 sites and protected and restored more than 1,000 acres for residents to enjoy. We extend our gratitude to ComEd and thank the many partners who have implemented these projects across the region.”

More information on the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at Openlands.org/GreenRegion.

Among the 26 ComEd Green Region Program grant recipients for 2020 are:

Native restoration of Tower Lakes Nature Preserve:áThis project will help restore the 17-acre Tower Lakes Nature Preserve, which includes oak groves, prairie and wetlands, by eliminating invasive trees and brush and seeding native plants to encourage pollinators and create education opportunities for residents.

Northbrook Park District prescribed burn and community outreach program: This project involves completing prescribed burns of native landscaping to improve the vitality of the native landscapes and wildlife. It also will help develop educational programming and materials on native landscape care and connect with the park district’s existing programs.

Deer Park butterfly garden:áThis project will help enhance the Butterfly Garden at Vehe Farm Park for residents and visitors.

Village hall rain garden and bee habitat (Port Barrington):áThis project will create a rain garden, vegetative swale and butterfly/bee habitats to educate the public about the importance of conservation with aesthetic benefits.

Urban pollinator conservation (Waukegan):áThis project will establish multiple native pollinator gardens, including along a block of Sheridan Road, a trail by the lakefront and at the Welcome to Waukegan signs. Interpretive signage will be installed to explain the importance and significance of urban pollinator conservation.

Everts Park rain garden and native wildflower plantings (Highwood):áThis project will help renovate Everts Park with pollinator-attracting wildflowers, shrubs turned into planting beds and a rain garden. The planting beds will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Educational signage describing the plantings and gardening methods is planned to encourage regionwide implementation.

Whippoorwill Park pollinator gardens (Mettawa):áThis project will enhance Whippoorwill Park, one of the most visited and easily accessible Mettawa parks, with pollinator gardens.

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