WBEZ | Millennium Reserve http://www.wbez.org/tags/millennium-reserve Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Calumet brain trust tackles environmental issues across state line http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/calumet-brain-trust-tackles-environmental-issues-across-state-line <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/marquette-park610px.jpg" title="One of the pannes in Marquette Park, along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Wetlands nestled between lakeshore sand dunes, the fragile ecosystems foster biodiversity. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley) " /></p><p>Although county lines parcel out the southern shore of Lake Michigan like garden plots, the environmental issues that unify people from Michigan City, Ind. to Chicago do not respect political boundaries.</p><p>Nor do most economic issues. Industrial decay and depopulation have left communities throughout the greater <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/calumet" target="_blank">Calumet</a> region with some common problems, as well as shared opportunities.</p><p>That was the message from the inaugural Calumet Summit, a conference convened this week in Gary, Indiana&rsquo;s lakefront Marquette Park by the <a href="http://calumetstewardship.org/" target="_blank">Calumet Stewardship Initiative</a>.</p><p>The summit follows some major moves in the Calumet area, not least of which is the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/millennium-reserve" target="_blank">Millennium Reserve</a> initiative, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/governor-greenlights-funding-nations-largest-open-space-project-105857">dubbed the nation&#39;s largest &quot;open space&quot; project</a>. (Although it might better be described as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/how-open-millennium-reserve-open-space-project-105925" target="_blank">a regional plan that ties conservation to urban redevelopment</a>.)</p><p>After 140 years of heavy industry, many of the region&rsquo;s factories have closed and left brownfields, violence and unemployment in their wake. And while efforts to rehabilitate the Great Lakes have mopped up some pollution and begun to clamp down on invasive species, a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/report-card-great-lakes-big-problems-19179661#.UZVhjiuG3Os" target="_blank">report released Tuesday by the international body that advises Canada and U.S. on the lakes said</a> the area still faces serious challenges. Agricultural runoff, flooding, drought, and the march of both invasive species and a changing climate are among the problems that plague people who call the southern end of Lake Michigan home.</p><p>Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said as much Tuesday at the Calumet Summit. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal funding program initiated by President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration, has enabled environmental work and research in recent years. Perhaps more importantly, Brammeier said, it has brought attention to the region and galvanized those already doing important work on the ground.</p><p>&quot;As important as the money is the near-universal expression of support for the program year after year,&quot; he said.&nbsp;&quot;That&rsquo;s really at the heart of the success in moving money to entities on the ground.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/keeping-aromatic-invader-bay-107163" target="_blank">Volunteer environmental stewards</a> and <a href="http://www.nirpc.org/2040-plan.aspx" target="_blank">planners alike</a> see a future in green development.</p><p>Few people articulate that vision better than Lauren Riga. Tapped by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to head Gary&rsquo;s new department of Green Urbanism, 28-year-old Riga previously served as a U.N. delegate at the 2010 climate change conference. About <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/us/mayor-of-struggling-gary-ind-turns-to-chicagos-richard-daley-for-advice.html" target="_blank">one quarter of Gary&#39;s buildings are vacant</a>. As Riga and the mayor look to spur an economic revival, they plan to incorporate green infrastructure into new development. Meanwhile local and state agencies have helped rehabilitate habitat along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, home to a series of <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2425735?uid=3739656&amp;uid=2&amp;uid=4&amp;uid=3739256&amp;sid=21102293343277" target="_blank">fragile ecosystems</a> known as pannes &mdash; wetlands nestled between sand dunes.</p><p>&quot;[Riga] represents a new way of thinking for the region,&quot; said Andrew Pelloso, an environmental consultant who formerly worked for Indiana&rsquo;s Department of Environmental Management.</p><p>&quot;Everyone seems to see the region by Gary&rsquo;s fate and fortune so what they do matters,&quot; he said.</p><p>Whether <a href="http://lakeshorepublicmedia.org/east-chicago-sewers-get-a-makeover/" target="_blank">updating Northwest Indiana&#39;s stormwater infrastructure</a> or <a href="http://healthyschoolscampaign.org/blog/green-schoolyards-for-healthy-students-a-new-chicago-initiative/" target="_blank">retrofitting Chicago schoolyards</a>, presenters at the summit emphasized action.</p><p>&quot;Between now and the next summit go out and do something,&quot; U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky told the audience, &quot;or everyone will have wasted their time over the two days.&quot;</p><p>Pelloso said for all the region&rsquo;s challenges, and the bureaucratic headache it can be to get things done, the conference&rsquo;s take-home message was affirming.</p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;re bound together by a common resource,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Not by state lines.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about environmental issues. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 18:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/calumet-brain-trust-tackles-environmental-issues-across-state-line How open is the Millennium Reserve 'open space' project? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/how-open-millennium-reserve-open-space-project-105925 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24831034@N08/8303625555/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/powdhorn%20via%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 365px; width: 610px;" title="Powderhorn Lake, a Forest Preserve holding in the Millennium Reserve Calumet Core area. (Courtesy ✿Low✿ via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>During <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/governor-greenlights-funding-nations-largest-open-space-project-105857">his announcement Friday that federal and state agencies would commit an additional $6.8 million towards Millennium Reserve projects</a>, Gov. Pat Quinn repeated the claim that the massive Southeast Side restoration initiative constituted the &ldquo;<a href="http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&amp;RecNum=10970">largest open space project in the country</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>While it is undoubtedly ambitious, and unique in a few ways, the &ldquo;open space&rdquo; project is not exactly that. After all, the initial project area (the &ldquo;Calumet Core&rdquo;) is home to nearly half a million people, as well as 2,000 acres of industrial land.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Natural Resources prefers the more accurate, admittedly less sexy, term &ldquo;one of the largest collaborative urban open space projects&rdquo; in the country.</p><p>At 140,000 acres, the Calumet Core certainly is a huge tract of land. Open space holdings in that area, however, only total about 15,000 acres. That includes Indian Ridge Marsh, the Burnham Greenway, and other high-profile projects.</p><p>About 60 percent of that open space land is owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District. The Chicago Park District recently acquired more than 680 acres in the Calumet area from the city, which it plans to convert into open lands.</p><p>The <a href="http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/millennium-reserve/Documents/Maps/Calumet%20Core%20and%20Expansion%20Area.pdf">expansion zone</a>, Millennium Reserve&rsquo;s long-term target area, includes another 18,000 acres of &ldquo;<a href="http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/millennium-reserve/Pages/numbers.aspx">high-quality natural areas</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>Urban growth <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0009509">has long reduced open land in and around cities</a>, and Chicago ranks <a href="http://persquaremile.com/2011/01/27/parkland-per-person-in-the-united-states/">at or near the bottom</a>, <a href="http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/programs/hd/Special%20Reports/OpenSpaceReport.pdf">depending</a> on methodology, of parkland per capita.</p><p>&ldquo;The significance of it being an urban project is that people have the best opportunity to become connected to the outdoors in the places most easily accessible to them, such as where they live,&rdquo; said John Rogner, chairman of the Millennium Reserve Initiative steering committee that Quinn unveiled Friday.</p><p>Several cities and counties around the country have large urban open space projects &mdash; <a href="http://www.godowntownbaltimore.com/docs/openspaceplan.pdf">Baltimore</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/about/documents/2012-2017AdoptedPOSPSmallFileSize.pdf">Madison</a>, Wisc., and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eng.hctx.net/pdf/park_plan_2.pdf">Harris County, Texas</a>, for example&nbsp;&mdash; but unlike the Millennium Reserve they are strictly city- or county-led.&nbsp;</p><p>By partnering governments and civilian organizations, Rogner said, the Millennium Reserve team may be able to more quickly acquire new land than conservation groups would be independently.</p><p>Larger projects consolidating and connecting open space exist in the U.S., but they don&rsquo;t share the Millennium Reserve&rsquo;s urban focus. Plans to conserve land in Pennsylvania&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.dvrpc.org/OpenSpace/network.htm">Delaware Valley</a>, and in the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.farmland.org/programs/states/documents/ConservingGreenNetwork.pdf">Washington-Baltimore</a>&nbsp;metro area, focus on rural greenways and, apart from their emphasis on farmland, might be considered more traditionally conservationist projects than Millennium Reserve.</p><p><a href="http://open2100.org/">Seattle&rsquo;s Open Space 2100 plan</a> is both collaborative and urban. It took the form of a generalized plan, however, while Millennium Reserve is, according to the department of natural resources&rsquo; Lisa Cotner, &ldquo;an on-going initiative to make on-the-ground projects happen.&rdquo;</p><p>What these other projects really illustrate about the Millennium Reserve is how wide-ranging its goals are &mdash; industrial resurgence, economic development, recreation and ecological restoration all share top-billing with open space, depending on who you talk to.&nbsp;The broad scope may help clear the path for action by the project&rsquo;s more than 50 partner organizations, but it&rsquo;s also likely to foster some disputes over just what the &ldquo;open space&rdquo; project is all about.</p></p> Thu, 07 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/how-open-millennium-reserve-open-space-project-105925 Governor greenlights funding for nation's largest open space project http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/governor-greenlights-funding-nations-largest-open-space-project-105857 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/quinn-millennium-reserve-bill.jpg" title="Gov. Pat Quinn signed the executive order in the William W. Powers Visitor Center, a new building in the Calumet area's Millennium Reserve. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Once an interwoven swath of wetlands and oak savannas, the Calumet region is home to Chicago&rsquo;s largest concentration of industrial jobs, as well as some of its most threatened wildlife and natural areas.</p><p>In the first major development since the nation&rsquo;s largest open space project was announced in 2011, federal and state agencies Friday committed $6.8 million to fund environmental restoration and recreation programs through the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/millennium-reserve">Millennium Reserve</a> Initiative.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn also signed an executive order creating the southeast side reserve&rsquo;s steering committee, a 21-member board tasked with realizing the Initiative&rsquo;s goals of &ldquo;environmental restoration and remediation, outdoor recreation, economic development, and community development.&rdquo;</p><p>Brownfield remediation, public recreation industries, intermodal freight shipping, and a developing network of trails are among the specific projects outlined in the executive order.</p><p>Quinn&rsquo;s message tied environmental protection to economic development. &ldquo;Doing things right by our environment, having a conservation ethic is very important for jobs,&rdquo; Quinn said.</p><p>Citing <a href="http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/upload/FWS-National-Preliminary-Report-2011.pdf">a figure from the Department of the Interior</a>, he said wildlife-related recreation generated $145 billion in 2011.</p><p>&ldquo;We want people to come from far and wide to enjoy everything we&rsquo;ve got in Millennium Reserve,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>The Calumet region&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/results?s=calumet">conflicted environmental history</a>, however, demonstrates the difficulty of balancing conservation principles with the pressures of development in practice.</p><p>&ldquo;We won&rsquo;t let conservation be an afterthought,&rdquo; said the committee&rsquo;s chairman, John Rogner, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to build out green infrastructure and gray infrastructure together.&rdquo;</p><p>As for the composition of the steering committee, appointees were from the region&rsquo;s main landholders &mdash; the Park District, the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District and the Forest Preserve District &mdash; as well as government agencies and conservation groups.</p><p>Although she applauded the initiative&rsquo;s mission, Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force said the steering committee could use more community members.</p><p>&ldquo;We hear lots of announcements,&rdquo; she said. Years before the Millennium Reserve Initiative was announced, she noted, community groups developed their own vision plans for the area. Salazar&rsquo;s own group hopes to develop a &ldquo;green industrial corridor&rdquo; with light manufacturing that uses renewable energy, to complement the &ldquo;green natural corridor&rdquo; of nature preserves.</p><p>The committee will report to the Governor every six months, beginning after their first meeting. Rogner said the group plans to meet before the end of March. Meetings will be open to public input, Quinn said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/millennium_core_111811_poster_final.jpg" style="width: 610px;" title="" /></div></p> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 17:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/governor-greenlights-funding-nations-largest-open-space-project-105857 Chicago to expand open space in Calumet region http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-expand-open-space-calumet-region-94780 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-09/4949385078_947c48d93e.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The largest open space project in the country is coming to the South Side of Chicago. The project aims to transform 140,000 acres of brownfields and other under-utilized land in the Calumet region into the Millennium Reserve —&nbsp;a public recreation hub teeming with plants, wildlife, trains and parks. The effort draws from President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and state resources.</p><p>“Our state – we’re putting in $17 million in this mission of reclaiming land and building a special place of nature conservation,” Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday.</p><p>The announcement was made near 111<sup>th</sup> Street and the Bishop Ford Highway. Quinn said the hope is to leverage private money into the overall project. Local officials also say Millennium Reserve will bring economic development and jobs to the area. The first phase won’t be finished for several years.</p><p>Environmental groups applauded the announcement and the project’s aims; for years several advocacy organizations have clamored for restoration and greenways.</p><p>In a statement, the Sierra Club of Illinois&nbsp;said: “The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management by multiple state, local and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and the local economy.”</p><p>In September, another slice of this Southeast Side received <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/economic-development-coming-southeast-side-92187">promising economic news</a>. U.S. Bank announced that it was donating land for construction of Pullman Park, a mixed-used project. Housing, big-box stores, a park and recreational facility are being planned.</p><p align="center"><span><b>Calumet area considered for Millennium Reserve</b></span><br> <iframe frameborder="0" height="300" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;source=s_q&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=111th+street+and+bishop+ford+highway,+Chicago&amp;aq=&amp;sll=37.0625,-95.677068&amp;sspn=55.586984,79.013672&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;hq=111th+street+and+bishop+ford+highway,&amp;hnear=Chicago,+Cook,+Illinois&amp;t=h&amp;ll=41.683169,-87.584724&amp;spn=0.076921,0.102997&amp;z=12&amp;output=embed" width="300"></iframe><br> <small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;source=embed&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=111th+street+and+bishop+ford+highway,+Chicago&amp;aq=&amp;sll=37.0625,-95.677068&amp;sspn=55.586984,79.013672&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;hq=111th+street+and+bishop+ford+highway,&amp;hnear=Chicago,+Cook,+Illinois&amp;t=h&amp;ll=41.683169,-87.584724&amp;spn=0.076921,0.102997&amp;z=12" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 255); text-align: left;">View Larger Map</a></small></p></p> Fri, 09 Dec 2011 21:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-expand-open-space-calumet-region-94780