Southland communities receive conservation grants
BY MIKE NOLAN email@example.com November 8, 2013 10:16PM
Updated: December 12, 2013 6:07AM
Four Southland communities have been awarded grants to help fund conservation and environmental projects as part of a collaboration between ComEd and the nonprofit Openlands.
Homewood, Orland Park, Palos Heights and Park Forest were named recipients of Green Region grants, aimed at helping cities and villages pay for conservation projects in a time of strained municipal budgets, ComEd and Openlands, which promotes land conservation, said.
It was the first year for the grant program, with applicants eligible for a maximum grant of $10,000. Openlands will monitor progress on the projects being funded.
Orland Park’s grant of $10,000 will help fund site preparation and development of a master plan for the former Pebble Creek Nursery property, which the village bought in April 2012. The 3.5-acre, wedge-shaped property is east of LaGrange Road and north of Southwest Highway, east of the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s McGinnis Slough.
Removing invasive plants, cleaning up the site and taking steps to prevent stormwater runoff into a wetland area north of the site are some of the initial tasks the village wants to accomplish.
Future plans call for establishing a small nature center “that will serve as the hub and information center” for almost 300 acres of land around Orland Park maintained by the village’s Open Lands Commission, according to the village’s grant application.
Palos Heights was awarded $10,000 to create a master site plan for the city’s Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanical Gardens, while Park Forest is receiving $8,000 to restore a wetland in the village’s Central Park. Homewood’s grant of $2,112 will be used to replace an existing footbridge on a walking trail in the Izaak Walton Preserve.