Friends Receives Large Grant for Fish Habitat

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A new public-private partnership has established the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund to restore the health, vitality, and accessibility of the waterways in the Chicago and Calumet region by supporting green stormwater infrastructure, habitat enhancement, and public-use improvements.  

Today the Chi-Cal Fund announced $1 million in grants. Friends of the Chicago River was pleased to learn that we were one of four organizations selected.  Friends will receive $300,000 for in-stream habitat structures to enhance fish populations in the Chicago Area Waterway System. Working with our partner, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Friends will place a total of 400 habitat structures in channel bottoms and streambeds at six locations where suitable fish habitat is currently limited or nonexistent. The structures will provide spawning cavities for channel catfish and cover for largemouth bass, sunfish and other fish species. This project will make the river system more hospitable to many fish species and lead to improved angling opportunities for local communities. 

In addition, Friends of the Forest Preserves received $271,313  to support the development of the Centennial Network and will partner with Audubon and Friends of the Chicago River to help restore five sites along the river banks in partnership with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Centennial Network volunteers will restore a minimum of 112 acres at five forest preserves along the Upper North Branch of the Chicago River and the Little Calumet River. Volunteers will remove invasive species, disperse native seeds, and install more than 150 square feet of bioswales at each location. By reducing invasive vegetation, increasing native plant cover, and improving streambank stability, this work will improve habitat, reduce erosion, and improve water quality. In addition, the Centennial Network will broaden local support for habitat restoration and increase the number of conservation stewards in the region.