New Fund Aims to Improve Chicago, Calumet Rivers

Businesses, foundations and public agencies have committed $2.4 million for three years to the new Chi-Cal Rivers Fund

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    A new public-private fund will begin accepting proposals for projects to improve the Calumet and Chicago rivers as part of a sweeping plan to improve quality of life and the economy in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, partners in the effort said Wednesday.

    Businesses, foundations and public agencies have committed $2.4 million for three years to the new Chi-Cal Rivers Fund, and grants will be awarded for projects designed to improve storm water management, habitat and public access along the waterways in northwest Indiana and the Chicago area, said Todd Hogrefe, Great Lakes Program Director for the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, which is administering the fund.

    He says the fund's goal is to improve the health and vitality of the waterways and the watersheds that feed into them, and to improve the quality of life for people who use the waterways.

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    Officials said funding partners have committed $2.4 million for three years. Almost half of that will be awarded yet this year.

    "It has been my goal to make the Chicago River the next great recreational frontier for the City of Chicago," and the new grants will help that effort, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Chicago's greatest natural asset is our use of and treatment of water."

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    Fund partners include steelmaker ArcelorMittal, The Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Joyce Foundation, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the Wrigley Company Foundation.