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Illinois Foundation Closes Shop After More than a Decade of Investing in Lake County's Natural Lands

June 14, 2024 12:20 PM

The Lake County Forest Preserves has received more than $2 million in grants over the past 13 years from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF).

The ICECF has ceased its grant-making activities due to the exhaustion of its funds. Established in 1999 with a $225 million from Commonwealth Edison, the Foundation has distributed more than $351 million in grants to support energy efficiency, renewable energy development and the preservation of natural areas in Illinois. Previously awarded grants will still be funded according to their respective agreements.

“We are incredibly grateful for the 12 grants totaling $2,065,461 that we received from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation,” said Alex Ty Kovach, executive director of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “These grants have been vital in supporting our conservation efforts, allowing us to enhance and protect natural areas, promote sustainability and improve energy efficiency. The support has been essential in helping us achieve our mission and make a lasting impact on Lake County.”

Two notable grants recently benefited the Forest Preserves. The first is $233,600 to help preserve 18.2 acres as an addition to Wadsworth Savanna Forest Preserve in Wadsworth. The ecologically significant parcel features high-quality wet prairie and savanna, providing critical habitat for state endangered and threatened species.

The second grant is designated to support volunteer efforts at Heron Creek Forest Preserve in Lake Zurich. This is called a Community Stewardship Challenge Grant, and it offers $3 in matching funds for every $1 raised to support the project, up to $21,000. It also provides $4,000 once volunteers donate at least 400 hours at the preserve, for a total grant of $25,000.

Other ICECF grants over the years include:

• $20,000 in 2022 to transform 2.54 acres into a pollinator meadow at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. This work is still in process.

• A $25,000 Community Stewardship Challenge Grant in 2022 for Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve in Lake Forest.

• $512,866 in 2022 to support a new Education Center at Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods, designed to achieve net-zero energy.

• $76,000 in 2020 to install a solar photovoltaic system at the Welcome Center at Ryerson Conservation Area.

• A $25,000 Community Stewardship Challenge Grant in 2020 for Greenbelt Forest Preserve in North Chicago.

• $25,000 in 2019 for restoration at Grassy Lake Forest Preserve in Lake Barrington.

• $1.085 million in 2018 to help preserve and complete initial habitat restoration on 337 acres as an addition to Ray Lake Forest Preserve in Wauconda.

• $37,995 in 2011 for geothermal energy efficiency at Greenbelt Cultural Center within Greenbelt Forest Preserve in North Chicago.