marsh gets environmental grant
Project includes visitors center, habitat preservation
By Terrie Henderson
Northwest Indiana Times
Published February 2, 2006
CHICAGO | One of the last remaining wetlands in the Chicago
area just received a little financial help from its friends.
The Hegewisch Marsh, on the west side of Torrence Avenue
and bordered by the Little Calumet River and the Ford
Assembly Plant in the Hegewisch neighborhood, consists
of more than 100 acres of wetlands, trees and upland areas.
The state received a $750,000 grant for restoration and
preservation of the marsh, said Dan Persky, senior policy
adviser and council for Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.
It is one of the first large-scale wetland restoration
projects in the Calumet area.
The grant comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
as part of its National Costal Wetland Conservation Grant
Persky said the marsh is considered a costal area.
"All the water from that site flows directly to
Lake Michigan," Persky said. "Wetlands are the
kidneys for our Great Lakes."
The grant will be used to put in trails, to rid the site
of non-native species and to restore the state of natural
species within the marsh. It also will be used to remove
invasive species, install native plants and execute other
habitat changes to benefit coastal wetland-dependent plants
Aaron Rosinski, executive director for the Southeast
Environmental Task Force, said the marsh needs to be preserved
because it is unique.
"It has been identified as one of the last major
remaining wetlands that used to cover the region,"
Rosinski said, adding that the initiative to preserve
the site was a partnered effort with the Chicago Department
Persky said future plans for the marsh include a visitors
center called the Ford Calumet Environmental Center. He
said Ford Motor Co. has agreed to provide $6 million for
Persky said the center will be a place where visitors
can learn about the wetlands, and a design for the center
already has been developed.
"It's designed so that birds will be able to fly
right through it," Persky said.