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For Immediate Release

Contact

Brandon Hayes, Jordan Aluise

(312) 863-6260, (202) 549-7196

$200,000 in Grants to Fund 22 Environmental Initiatives in Northern Illinois

ComEd and Openlands team up to support conservation and preservation projects

CHICAGO (July 7th, 2016) – ComEd and Openlands will award more than $200,000 in grants to 22 Illinois municipalities - each receiving up to $10,000 for open space projects that focus on conservation, preservation and improvements to local parks and recreation resources. 

This marks the fourth year that ComEd and Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation, partner to award ComEd's Green Region grants.

"Our Green Region 2016 grantees are all doing their part to ensure that their open spaces are protected and preserved," said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd. "Each community is working on a unique project – from restoring wetlands to redeveloping local parks to constructing brand new wildlife areas – and we are excited to help them advance their green initiatives."

The Green Region partnership is one of the many ways ComEd and Openlands give back to their communities and support their efforts to improve their green footprints.

"At a time when protecting our environment is becoming increasingly more essential to ensure a sustainable future, it is important that we continue to find ways to support the people who are working hard to protect it," said Marquez. "We are proud to partner with Openlands to support projects that provide a better environment for our customers and our communities."

Openlands, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on land conservation, is administering the Green Region program. Municipalities throughout northern Illinois submitted their applications for a Green Region grant earlier this year. An advisory committee composed of county government officials, members of the region's non-profit land conservation community, and ComEd representatives review the Grant applications.

"Our ultimate goal is to create a healthy, vibrant environment for people where they can live and work. With ComEd's partnership, we are able to help communities in northern Illinois make that environmental goal a reality," said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann.

Additional information on the Green Region program can be found at www.openlands.org/greenregion.

The 22 Green Region grant recipients for 2016 are:

Bensenville Park District

The Bensenville Park District project will focus on both the restoration and management of naturalized and native park sites, helping to ensure their health for current and future generations.

Big Rock Park District

The Big Rock Park District project will create the first public vegetated bio area with native flowers within the District's jurisdiction. The planned area will promote bird and wildlife habitat while offering opportunities for study of native flora and healthy ecosystems.

Buffalo Grove Park District

The Buffalo Grove Park District project will extend and accelerate the restoration of Mike Rylko Community Park's streambanks, woodlands and wetlands along the Willow Stream corridor.

City of Aurora

The Green Region grant will help the City of Aurora replant and restore their rain gardens and a bioswale area at Phillips Park.

City of Hometown

This redevelopment project will provide new equipment for Anderson Park and will help to increase accessibility and open spaces in the park.

City of Streator

This grant will help the City of Streator construct a trail atop a former railroad right-of-way recently acquired by the city, create displays telling the story of the site's history, and update the city's 2002 Greenway Master Plan to reflect changed local conditions.

Dixon Park District

The Middle Rock River Conservation Partnership brings together 25-plus natural land managers in three state-designated Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs). This project focuses on prescribed fire, and radio equipment required to safely complete burns on natural areas.

Grayslake Community Park District

Grayslake Community Park District, in collaboration with Meadowview Sprouts, will work on restoration of a wooded area, adding a nature trail and interpretive signage, and the replacing a wetland boardwalk.

Libertyville Township Open Space District

This grant will help restore 113 acres of degraded farmland into a native habitat that will connect to three Illinois Nature preserves, creating one contiguous block of habitat.

Niles Park District

The Niles Community Garden will transform an unused plot of land into a productive and educational garden. The garden will offer twenty-six organic plots, two of which will supply fresh produce for public donation.

Park District of Highland Park

This project will develop an open space plan to increase public access to the Skokie River Woods natural area and improve regional connectivity while protecting the environmental integrity of the wetland ecosystem.

Prospect Heights Park District

This grant will help to create an interpretive nature park, providing ecological benefits while nurturing children's connection to nature. Native buffers will replace turf grass around the Slough wetland, improving health and habitat while continuing to build a volunteer network.

Village of Carol Stream

This project will convert approximately one acre of grass in a decommissioned sewage facility will be converted to native and pollinator plantings. 

Village of Clarendon Hills

The Richmond Education Gardens and Apiary will promote access to community ownership of process and product, localization, healthy eating, and organic and environmentally sound gardening practices to encourage investments based on environmental sustainability practices.

Village of Island Lake

This grant will support improvements to the newly acquired Hyde's Lakeview Park. The goal of the park is to provide the community a scenic setting with benches, limestone walkways, and resting areas overlooking Island Lake.

Village of Lake Zurich

This project will begin the habitat restoration of a degraded oak woodland, which will include the removal of invasive species and reintroduction of native ones.

Village of Shabbona

This grant will help the village acquire land and create a multi-use pathway connecting a number of community areas to the village itself.

Village of South Holland

This project will establish a wildlife area and observation deck. This will allow the public to view migratory wildlife, raising ecology awareness, and enhance the local ecology system.

Village of Warren

This project will install new safety railings in areas frequented by students, replace trees in the village park, and upgrade the green space in the center of the downtown.

Wheaton Park District

This grant will help provide a nature play area within the 151-acre Lincoln Marsh Natural Area to encourage children and their families to play and learn in a safe natural environment.

Will County

This project will establish a community garden/urban farm initiative. It includes an educational garden, small indoor hydroponic growing area, and compost bins.

Wilmette Park District

This grant will help establish a migratory bird habitat at Gilson Park. This habitat will increase both recreation and education opportunities for the community, as well as provide a critical habitat for migrating birds.

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Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation's oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, visit www.openlands.org.

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