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GLIN==> U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Awards $1Million Grant to Help Restore Hegewisch Marsh, Benefitting a Great Lakes Area of Concern

----- Forwarded by Rich Greenwood/R3/FWS/DOI on 03/25/2006 07:40 PM -----

News articles from Chicago Tribune and Chicago SunTimes re: the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service's  National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant for
Hegewisch Marsh in Indiana.

Tribune erroneously says Whooping Crane nests there, but otherwise both
appear fairly accurate.

City marsh set to get face-lift

$750,000 grant from Fish and Wildlife Service will help revitalize
Hegewisch, surrounding area

By Michael Hawthorne
Tribune staff reporter

February 2, 2006

Surrounded by automobile factories, garbage dumps and a polluted river, a
soggy tract of cottonwoods and cattails on Chicago's Far Southeast Side
still attracts migratory birds searching for a meal and a place to rest.

The ornithological oasis soon could be drawing human visitors too.

A $750,000 federal grant announced Wednesday will help spruce up Hegewisch
Marsh by removing invasive plants and coaxing wetlands back to something
close to the preindustrial conditions of more than a century ago.

The idea is to tweak the ecology enough to make the marsh more attractive
to birds that nest there or use it as a stop on the migratory flyway that
hugs the shore of Lake Michigan. Species commonly found at the marsh
include yellow-headed blackbirds and black-crowned night herons, both on
the state's endangered list.

Local, state and federal officials think restoring Hegewisch Marsh, at
130th Street and Torrence Avenue, also could help turn the long-neglected
but environmentally significant area into a tourist attraction.

Anchored by a new center devoted to the environmental history of the Lake
Calumet region, the marsh is part of 4,800 acres of protected wetlands and
woodlands amid the remnants of a once-thriving industrial complex.

"It's a special place in an urban environment where folks can come to see a
heron or an eagle very close to home," said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who along
with Mayor Richard Daley and other state officials accepted a giant
ceremonial check from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Plans drawn up for the site call for trails meandering through woods,
sedges and meadows ringing the marsh. Observation platforms will be built
for bird watchers and curious onlookers from the nearby Ford Calumet
Environmental Center, a steel-and-glass building that Daley frequently
cites as an example of the city's commitment to "green" architecture.

"We don't know exactly what this area was like 200 years ago, but we can
create conditions these marsh birds like," said John Rogner, field
supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The environmental center is one of the latest attempts to boost economic
development in a region devastated by the collapse of industries that once
employed thousands.

During the heyday of the steel mills and factories, areas like Hegewisch
Marsh were considered bug-infested swamps that were useful only as dumping
grounds for slag, garbage and other waste.

Nobody thinks the urbanized region will ever revert to the wet and woody
land that led wealthy businessmen during the 1800s to build exclusive
hunting and fishing clubs around Lake Calumet. But Daley and other leaders
have said future development should include more environmentally friendly

"That marsh has been neglected and degraded for a long time," said Jim
Louderman, a collections assistant at the Field Museum, which has been
involved in the restoration efforts. "But with a little help and some time
spent, it can be brought back."

- - -

New life for Hegewisch Marsh

100 acres of forests and wetlands will be transformed


- Removal of invasive plants, planting of native plants

- Excavations to provide more wetland areas


- Proposed adjacent Ford Calumet Environmental Center would provide
outreach to local schools and be a hub for research


- Improved trail systems for hiking, biking and canoeing

- Creation of boardwalks, bridges and lookout towers


- Heron, whooping cranes and yellow-headed blackbird already nest in the
area. A bald eagle has been spotted.

- Yellow-headed blackbird

Among Illinois' endangered species

Size: 8-11 inches long,

Weighs: 2.8 ounces

Markings: Black body, bright yellow hood and breast, and white wing patches

Habitat: Freshwater marshes

Diet: Beetles, dragonflies and spiders

Sources: Office of the Lieutenant Governor, whatbird.com

Chicago Tribune



Copyright (c) 2006, Chicago Tribune

 grant to fix up                                                                                     
 lake's 'kidney'                                                                                     
 February 2, 2006                                                                                    
 BY GARY WISBY                                                                                       
 Tucked into the                                                                                     
 southeast corner of                                                                                 
 Chicago, Hegewisch                                                                                  
 Marsh seems an odd                                                                                  
 choice for a                                                                                        
 "coastal wetlands"                                                                                  
 federal grant of                                                                                    
 Even if you count                                                                                   
 the shoreline of                                                                                    
 Lake Michigan as a                                                                                  
 coast, the 140-acre                                                                                 
 marsh is nearly                                                                                     
 five miles from the                                                                                 
 But there was U.S.                                                                                  
 Fish & Wildlife                                                                                     
 Service chief Dale                                                                                  
 Hall at the Chicago                                                                                 
 Cultural Center on                                                                                  
 signing an                                                                                          
 oversized check for                                                                                 
 Mayor Daley and                                                                                     
 Illinois Lt. Gov.                                                                                   
 Pat Quinn.                                                                                          
 Hall said the                                                                                       
 restoration plan                                                                                    
 was one of 19 to                                                                                    
 win U.S. funding                                                                                    
 this year, beating                                                                                  
 out 21 competitors.                                                                                 
 It was chosen as                                                                                    
 one of only two                                                                                     
 urban projects --                                                                                   
 the other is in                                                                                     
 Detroit. A 40                                                                                       
 percent match from                                                                                  
 the city, state,                                                                                    
 Conservation Fund                                                                                   
 and Field Museum                                                                                    
 will bring the                                                                                      
 contribution to                                                                                     
 Hegewisch Marsh may                                                                                 
 not be on the lake,                                                                                 
 but it is part of                                                                                   
 the lake. Connected                                                                                 
 by the Calumet                                                                                      
 River, it helps                                                                                     
 clean the lake by                                                                                   
 filtering out                                                                                       
 pollution. "In a                                                                                    
 lot of ways, the                                                                                    
 marsh is one of the                                                                                 
 kidneys of Lake                                                                                     
 Michigan," said                                                                                     
 And along with the                                                                                  
 other 10 wetlands                                                                                   
 in the 4,800-acre                                                                                   
 Calumet Open Space                                                                                  
 Reserve, Hegewisch                                                                                  
 Marsh is a haven                                                                                    
 for endangered and                                                                                  
 threatened wildlife                                                                                 
 -- including                                                                                        
 Blanding's turtle,                                                                                  
 Franklin's ground                                                                                   
 squirrel, the                                                                                       
 pied-billed grebe                                                                                   
 and black-crowned                                                                                   
 night heron.                                                                                        
 City going for Big                                                                                  
 Plans for the site                                                                                  
 include woods,                                                                                      
 savanna, meadows                                                                                    
 and sedge, hiking                                                                                   
 trails and scenic                                                                                   
 overlooks. It will                                                                                  
 be home to the                                                                                      
 Ford Calumet                                                                                        
 Center, serving                                                                                     
 visitors and                                                                                        
 students from 22                                                                                    
 schools within a                                                                                    
 10-mile radius.                                                                                     
 Quinn said the                                                                                      
 marsh's proximity                                                                                   
 to Interstate 80                                                                                    
 will make it a                                                                                      
 destination for                                                                                     
 "Nature can come                                                                                    
 back to urban                                                                                       
 areas," Daley said.                                                                                 
 "The idea that you                                                                                  
 have to travel far                                                                                  
 from the city to                                                                                    
 enjoy nature? You                                                                                   
 don't have to any                                                                                   
 The city is                                                                                         
 negotiating with                                                                                    
 Waste Management to                                                                                 
 buy an even larger                                                                                  
 wetland, 300-acre                                                                                   
 Big Marsh.                                                                                          
 Five years ago the                                                                                  
 city and state put                                                                                  
 together the                                                                                        
 Calumet Land Use                                                                                    
 Plan out of mostly                                                                                  
 vacant space, much                                                                                  
 of it polluted by a                                                                                 
 long-departed steel                                                                                 
 industry. Set aside                                                                                 
 in addition to the                                                                                  
 open space reserve                                                                                  
 are 3,000 acres for                                                                                 

       Hegewisch Marsh Restoration. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor,  
       in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and 
       Environmental Protection Agency, will restore 55 acres of a 100-acre 
       coastal wetland of Lake Michigan within the 4,800 acre Calumet Open  
       Space Reserve in south Chicago. Restoration will include the removal 
       of non-natives, planting native plants and excavations to provide    
       more emergent wetland areas.                                         
             Partners: City of Chicago, the Conservation Fund and the Field 
             Museum of Natural History.                                     
             Coastal grant: $750,000                                        
             State share: $218,501                                          
             Partners share: $292,038                                       
             Total cost: $1,260,539                                         

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