ComEd and Openlands awarded $125,000 in Green Region grants to 17 municipalities and nonprofits throughout northern Illinois to support their continuing efforts to conserve and protect open spaces. Many municipal and nonprofit budgets are stretched thin and U.S. cities face falling revenues for a sixth-straight year in the current economic climate, according to the National League of Cities (Sept. 12, 2013), which makes these grants even more important.
A Green Region grant of $10,000 was awarded to the McHenry County Conservation District and their Trail of History Woodland Restoration project. This project will fund 1,500-2,000 local-genotype oak and hazelnut seedlings to restore a 160-acre tract of historic oak woodland in McHenry County.
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This is the first year of the Green Region program in Illinois, a joint effort by ComEd and Openlands to fund municipal conservation and environmental projects. The Green Region grants relieve some of the financial strain faced by numerous municipalities and nonprofit organizations forced to make significant cuts to environmental programs due to budget constraints. The grants subsidize existing open space projects at the municipal level focusing on conservation, preservation, protecting endangered species, and improvements to local parks and recreation resources. Each grant applicant was eligible for a maximum of $10,000 per project.
Openlands, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on land conservation, is administering the Green Region program. Municipalities and nonprofits throughout northern Illinois submitted their applications for a Green Region grant earlier this year. The applications were reviewed by an advisory committee of local environmental leaders selected by ComEd and Openlands.
The grants will be distributed by ComEd over the next two years. Openlands will monitor all of the projects by developing applications, guidelines and a scorecard to track and measure the impact of each project.
"Green Region is a great opportunity for local governments, nonprofits and ComEd to work together in improving our environment and conserving open space across nine counties in northern Illinois," said Jerry Adelmann, president and CEO, Openlands. "This program--which is an effective tool to help local municipalities and nonprofits invest in their own future, especially in this economy--is possible because of ComEd's remarkable commitment and dedication to our region."
"At ComEd, we're always looking for innovative ways to better partner with the communities we serve. Supporting organizations that are doing great work to protect and preserve resources is a natural fit," said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd. "As a company, we are dedicated to creating a more sustainable future and our Green Region grantees are key partners in that ongoing effort."
The Green Region grants were presented to the 17 organizations during Openlands' 50th Anniversary Luncheon in Chicago. The luncheon is the largest gathering of the conservation community in the Chicagoland area.