During the Forest Preserve Foundation’s fall grants cycle, five grants totaling nearly $130,000 in support of Forest Preserves of Cook County initiatives were approved.
Conservation Corps Friends of the Forest Preserves Roving Crew Program
The Foundation awarded a grant of $47,654.50 to the Forest Preserves for the Friends of the Forest Preserves Roving Crew program, which engages successful graduates (ages 18-24) of other FPCC Conservation Corps internships who wish to advance their conservation and leadership skills. The program provides participants steady employment and the skills to pursue a career or college degree in conservation-related fields. Since 2012, 26 young adults have participated in this program, and 75% went on to another conservation job/internship or pursued a degree in natural resources or related fields. This grant will support 12 participants in 2017.
Restoration of Paw Paw Woods Nature Preserve in Palos Preserves
With a gift from Picrow Streaming, Inc., the Forest Preserve Foundation awarded a $4,500 grant to help expand the coverage area for planned restoration work at Paw Paw Woods in the Palos Preserves. Paw Paw Woods is a diverse natural area, home to hundreds of plant and animal species. Restoring this natural area requires removing invasive species (particularly non-native shrubs) and conducting prescribed burns, but habitat management efforts have slowed due to sparse resources. This restoration project will contribute to the enhancement of nearly 14 acres.
Dan Ryan Woods Nature Play Development
With a Forest Preserve Foundation grant of $46,295.50, the Forest Preserves plans to build and install a variety of nature play elements at Dan Ryan Woods, a 257-acre preserve on Chicago’s south side. These elements would be built from natural materials and are designed to provide a safe environment in which children can explore nature. The benefits of children spending unstructured time outdoors is well documented and shows positive benefits on their physical, emotional, and intellectual development and well-being. This grant will contribute to making Dan Ryan Woods a welcoming experience for people of all ages. The Dan Ryan Development project is also supported through an Open Space Lands Acquisition & Development (OSLAD) grant awarded through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Bird the Preserves – Phase II
The popular Bird the Preserves initiative will move into phase II with an additional $25,000 of support from the Forest Preserve Foundation. The Forest Preserves collaborated with numerous partners to introduce people to birding and the Forest Preserves. Bird the Preserves was launched in 2015 with an initial grant from Chicago Wilderness through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a two-year initiative to connect diverse communities to the Forest Preserves by expanding birding programming. Throughout 2016, Bird the Preserves attracted more than 1,000 people, most of whom had never birded in the Forest Preserves and many of whom had never visited a forest preserve before. In Phase II, the Forest Preserves will build on the project’s success and momentum while developing a process for sustaining the program into future years, as well as continue a variety of programming.
Forest Preserves Volunteer Recognition Program
With support from Comcast Foundation, the Forest Preserve Foundation granted $1,859 to the Forest Preserves’ volunteer recognition program, which recognizes those whose time and services enhance the Forest Preserves. All recognition gifts have been carefully selected and can be used while volunteering in or enjoying the Preserves. Learn more about volunteering in the Forest Preserves at fpdcc.com/volunteer.
In total, the Forest Preserve Foundation granted nearly $250,000 in support of FPCC initiatives and programs in 2016. To learn more about the Forest Preserve Foundation, visit their website at forestpreservefoundation.org.