Industry and Philanthropy Unite for Healthier Rivers, Habitats, Communities

Chi-Cal Rivers Fund celebrates 5 years of habitat restoration + green infrastructure w/$960k in grants Tweet This

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Green space, wildlife habitat and stormwater management are essential to the vitality of our river systems—and to the health and safety of the communities around them.

Today, the Chicago-Calumet region accelerated toward healthier, more accessible waterways as the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund announced $960,000 in grants to five community-driven projects. Collectively, their impact will include:

  • 240 acres of savanna, riparian and upland habitat restored and enhanced
  • 13,200 feet of in-stream habitat improved
  • More than 10 acres of neighborhood green space created and improved
  • More than 551,200 square feet of green storm water infrastructure added

The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund is a public-private partnership working to improve the health, vitality and accessibility of the waterways in the Chicago and Calumet regions. This is the Fund’s fifth annual slate of grants, bringing its total cumulative impact to $18.23 million.

“The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund demonstrates how public-private partnerships can uniquely accelerate the restoration and revitalization of habitats, waterways and communities through collaborative investment and strategic alignment,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The five projects awarded grants are:

Enhancing Habitat and Public Access on the East Branch of the Little Calumet River: $274,210
Save the Dunes Conservation Fund will restore more than 200 acres of habitat and enhance public use along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.

Wolf Lake Native Prairie Restoration and Public Use Enhancement: $165,600
Illinois Conservation Foundation will create native prairie habitat for pollinators and improve public access to Wolf Lake at the William W. Powers State Recreation Area.

Calumet Tree Conservation Corps: $161,467
The Student Conservation Association will reduce stormwater and sediment runoff and restore degraded riparian habitat in the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet rivers, adding 72,275 gallons of stormwater storage capacity by strategically planting 1,225 native trees.

Improving Fish Passage in Mill Creek and the Cal-Sag Channel: $248,327
Friends of the Chicago River will reconnect Mill Creek to the Cal-Sag Channel by removing two shelf structures which block fish passage from the Cal-Sag Channel, opening up 2.5 miles of high-quality stream habitat to benefit more than 17 species of fish.

Centennial Volunteers Network Restoration along the Chicago River: $110,399
Friends of the Forest Preserves will implement Phase III of a project to expand and mature self-sustaining communities of habitat restoration volunteers at Cook County forest preserves.


These grants will generate $1.46 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of $2.42 million.

Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund is supported by The Chicago Community Trust, ArcelorMittal, BNSF Railway, 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.

“As we see more intense rains, flooding problems in our neighborhoods are more frequent and more pollution runs off into our rivers, explained Elizabeth Cisar, senior program officer for the Joyce Foundation’s environment program. “The Joyce Foundation is pleased to partner with other private and public funders to invest in projects that help reduce urban flooding, and improve the health and accessibility of the waterways in the Chicago and Calumet region.”

“As the world’s leading steel and mining company, we recognize the critical importance of our region’s waterways and appreciate the opportunity to work with like-minded partners to revitalize these important assets,” said Bill Steers, general manager of corporate responsibility and communications for ArcelorMittal.

“Together, we are making progress on important issues such as stormwater infrastructure, habitat restoration and neighborhood green space that address key challenges in the Calumet region.”


Learn more about the funded projects in the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund 2017 Grant Slate.