Project Will Be Centerpiece of Governor’s Millennium Reserve Initiative
CHICAGO –-(ENEWSPF)–October 26, 2014. Governor Pat Quinn yesterday was joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce an agreement to purchase 282 acres of land from the Illinois International Port District that will provide unparalleled public access at Lake Calumet. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase opportunities for recreation across Illinois, and to promote stewardship of our natural resources while driving economic development.
“Generations of south side residents enjoyed recreation at Lake Calumet and this purchase is the first step in restoring that historical connection,” Governor Quinn said. “Located in the heart of Millennium Reserve, the new expansion will provide an improved home for Illinois’ wildlife, while increasing economic opportunities and tourism to the region.”
“The redevelopment of this land complements the 278 acres of new park land in the nearby Calumet Area Reserve where we are developing the bike park and nature area,” Mayor Emanuel said. “The availability of open spaces and recreational opportunities are key features of world-class cities, and I’m pleased to work with Governor Quinn on this and other projects that will increase tourism, protect our environment and improve the quality of life for all Chicagoans.”
The contract signed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will expand public recreational opportunities on currently unused portions of Lake Calumet. The parcel is being purchased with Open Land Trust funds for $9 million and will be managed by the IDNR.
The Lake Calumet acquisition is the centerpiece of Governor Quinn’s Millennium Reserve Initiative. Millennium Reserve is a transforming region with thriving commerce, communities and wildlife. The 210-square-mile reserve encompasses the southeast Chicago lakefront, dozens of south side neighborhoods and 37 south suburban communities. Millennium Reserve partners are seeking to re-develop the Calumet region into a one-of-a-kind public destination that honors the region’s industrial past while preserving and enhancing urban green space.
“This is a historic opportunity to create new recreational opportunities and introduce more people to the Chicago region’s diverse natural resources,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said. “Lake Calumet is part of the economic and natural history of this region, and we are proud to join with area communities, non-profit groups, conservation organizations and neighbors to create a one-of-a-kind destination for hikers, paddlers, birders, anglers and many others.”
Prior to opening the property to the public, IDNR must first complete required environmental reviews. Within the next several months IDNR will convene a planning process with partner agencies, organizations and the public to develop a vision for the property.
Since 2009, IDNR has acquired more than 6,500 acres for public recreational access. In addition, the Illinois Recreational Access Program has leased 13,000 acres in 29 counties to provide access for youth turkey hunting, fishing, birding and boat launching access. A federal grant of $20 million, announced last summer, will allow the program to expand. Recently, the IDNR announced a contract with CONSOL Energy to purchase 4,400 acres of the former Burning Star Mine #5 in southern Illinois. When the sale is complete, this acquisition will significantly increase recreational land open to the public for hunting, fishing and other recreation.