NFWF Awards $1.7 Million in New Conservation Grants to Benefit Wildlife and Improve Access to Greenspace in the Chicago-Calumet Region

CHICAGO, Nov. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chi-Cal Rivers Fund partners today announced six projects selected to receive $1.7 million in grant funding to improve and enhance waterways in the Chicago-Calumet region. These investments will protect and conserve fish and wildlife habitat, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve access to and use of natural areas and greenspace for communities. The grants will generate $2 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $3.7 million.

Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the fund is supported in 2022 with contributions from BNSF Railway, Cleveland-Cliffs, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Hunter Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Salesforce, the Walder Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service with additional support this year from the Bezos Earth Fund.

“The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund is committed to investing in projects that deliver multiple benefits for local communities and for wildlife,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “These latest grant awards will support efforts to add more than 590,000 gallons of stormwater storage, restore and enhance 700 acres of wetland and upland habitat, and restore wetland and riparian habitat to benefit migratory birds and native fish species.”

“In addition to the significant environmental conservation that will occur due to these grants, the work with communities to co-create plans, job opportunities, and long-term maintenance processes will prove beneficial and empowering to residents of the area who have been left outside of these decisions historically,” said Frank Baiocchi, executive director of the Hunter Family Foundation.

“The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund is a great example of how the public and private sector can partner to improve the water quality, wildlife habitat and enhance recreational opportunities,” said Peter Skosey, executive director, public and government affairs. “BNSF is pleased to play a part in the NFWF grants to benefit the Chicago region.”

The six grants announced today will restore wetland and riparian habitat to benefit migratory birds and native fish species such as longnose gar; install green stormwater infrastructure that reduces runoff and creates community greenspaces to enhance residents’ quality of life; and continue to improve habitat in Chicago and northwest Indiana through tree planting and invasive species control.

“The Joyce Foundation is committed to supporting projects that reduce flooding and make our region’s waterways healthier,” said Molly Flanagan, environment program consultant. “We are pleased to support the important work of the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund, which invests in projects that are improving Chicago’s rivers for today and for the next generation.”

The six Chi-Cal Rivers Fund 2022 grants are:

  • The Nature Conservancy will conduct restoration activities on at least 500 acres in nature preserves near the Grand Calumet River and reconnect residents to the Grand Calumet River and associated dune and swale habitat through listening sessions, outreach, education and hands-on work. Project will create community-informed engagement report and improve habitat for wildlife such as Blanding’s turtles, spotted turtles, Virginia rails, American bitterns and migratory birds.

  • The Morton Arboretum will expand green stormwater infrastructure by planting 700 diverse, native trees in 11 priority under-resourced communities and neighborhoods located in the Chicago-Calumet Rivers watersheds. Project will provide benefits to mitigate flooding and air pollution, improve wildlife habitat, improve access to green space in three public parks and provide job trainings.

  • Friends of the Forest Preserves will engage local communities in invasive species treatment and retreatment at three forest preserves, Kickapoo Woods, Whistler Woods, and Sand Ridge Nature Center Campus, along or close to the Little Calumet River. Project will restore habitat over 66 acres and provide job trainings in habitat restoration techniques through a conservation corps program.

  • The Wetlands Initiative will implement Phase III of habitat restoration and expanded shoreline modification at Indian Ridge Marsh North, a remnant wetland parcel on Chicago’s Southeast Side, to benefit declining wetland-dependent marsh birds and surrounding underserved communities. Project will restore 85 acres to healthy native marsh, wet meadow, and upland habitats, complete new shoreline work, and engage area residents with restoration via stewardship workdays.

  • National Audubon Society, Inc. will improve habitat quality and support hydrologic reconnection through invasive species removal, water level management, native plug planting and native seeding at Powderhorn Lake Forest Preserve. Project will build on hydrological-focused restoration across 98 acres of critical wetland and forest habitat, connect people through stewardship, and facilitate concept and build-ready design of public access to the new natural areas.

  • Urban Rivers will enhance existing engagement of large scale projects by adding in-stream habitat at the confluence of the North Branch of the Chicago River and the North Shore Channel. Project will utilize artificial floating wetlands as greenspace for native wetland and prairie plants, improve water quality, and fill gaps of significant investments and revitalization at a key point in the Chicago River system.

“We value this important partnership to achieve multiple goals of restoring habitat and watershed health, improving flood resiliency, and benefitting the lives of the diverse human communities who live along our region’s rivers, said David Farren, executive director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. “By coordinating and leveraging our collective funds for these grants, we can achieve a greater impact, and learn from each other in the process.”

To learn more about the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund and the six projects announced today, please visit


About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) works with the public and private sectors to sustain, restore and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats for current and future generations. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF has grown to become the nation’s largest private conservation grant-maker, funding more than 20,400 projects and generating a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at  

About Cleveland-Cliffs

Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, Cliffs also is the largest manufacturer of iron ore pellets in North America. The Company is vertically integrated from mined raw materials, direct reduced iron, and ferrous scrap to primary steelmaking and downstream finishing, stamping, tooling, and tubing. We are the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry in North America and serve a diverse range of other markets due to our comprehensive offering of flat-rolled steel products. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 27,000 people across its operations in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit

About BNSF Railway

BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies. BNSF operates approximately 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at

About Crown Family Philanthropies

Rooted in the legacy of Arie and Ida Crown, as well as the Jewish tradition of tikun olam—or repairing the world—Crown Family Philanthropies (CFP) is driven by more than 70 years of family commitment to social impact. Crown Family Philanthropies’ Great Lakes grantmaking supports efforts to address water quality, habitat conservation, and basin-wide policy to ensure that the Great Lakes are protected and restored for the use and enjoyment of people and wildlife for generations to come.

About The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Established in 1952, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. In the Chicago region, the Foundation focuses its land conservation support on innovative and inclusive conservation efforts that steward natural and working lands; integrate climate resiliency; advance policy advocacy and public engagement; and provide benefits to both natural and diverse human communities. See more about the Foundation at

About The Hunter Family Foundation

HFF provides grants and leadership to improve lives in a long-term and sustainable way by supporting education, healthcare, economic development, and the environment in communities where Hunter family members live. Our environmental granting focuses on advocating for policy and behavior changes to enhance land conservation and water protection efforts in the Great Lakes region, as well as hyper-local work to ensure community members can access natural areas.

About The Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in the future of the Great Lakes region by supporting policies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation. We support policy research, development and advocacy in areas that have a significant impact on quality of life: Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy, Culture, and Journalism. Based in Chicago, Joyce focuses its grant making in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. We also collaborate with funders and other partners to explore promising policy solutions in other states or at the federal level. For further information, please visit, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

About Salesforce

Salesforce, the global CRM leader, empowers companies of every size and industry to digitally transform and create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce, visit:

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation’s environmental science, research, education, and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. For more information, visit

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

About the U.S.D.A. Forest Service

Established in 1905, the Forest Service’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains one of the largest forestry research organizations in the world. Public lands managed by the Forest Service provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply and contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. The agency also supports sustainable management on about 500 million acres of private, state and tribal forests including forests in urban areas. For more information, visit

About the Walder Foundation

The Walder Foundation was established by Joseph and Elizabeth Walder to address critical issues impacting our world. The Foundation’s five areas of focus—science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life—are an extension of the Walders’ lifelong passions, interests, and their personal and professional experiences. Learn more at


Contact Data