Openlands President Jerry Adelmann Named Vice-Chair of Millennium Reserve Steering Committee

March 5, 2013

Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann will serve as Vice-Chair of the new Millennium Reserve Steering Committee, a coalition of federal, state, and local partners created through an Executive Order from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to oversee the vision and execution of the ongoing Millennium Reserve initiative in the Calumet Region.

On Friday, March 1, Gov. Quinn announced $6.8 million in investments from both state and local partners to continue developing the 140,000-acre Millennium Reserve trail and green space system that will connect communities in both the Calumet region and northwestern Indiana.

With Adelmann as Vice-Chair of the steering committee, Openlands continues a long-term involvement with the protection of green space in the Calumet region.

“Openlands has been working in the Calumet region for over 20 years, focused on land and water trails and open space preservation,” Adelmann said.

In the mid-90’s, Openlands purchased the abandoned Conrail Railway corridor and transferred ownership to various local governments who collaborated to develop the Burnham Greenway trail system.

“Today, the greenway serves as a critical trail segment of the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail stretching to the Mississippi River, as well as linkages to growing numbers of suburban trails, NW Indiana trails, and even the 4,700-mile American Discovery Trail,” Adelmann said.

A critical 2-mile gap in the Burnham Greenway still exists, however, in both Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood and in the village of Burnham. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will complete a one-mile segment through Hegewisch this year, but the completion in Burnham will require bridging the Calumet River and four railroad tracks.

Through the investments announced by Gov. Quinn last Friday, however, the Illinois Commerce Commission will offer up to $2 million in Crossing Safety Improvements funds as a match to the federal construction money acquired for completing the Burnham Greenway gap.

Openlands has also worked closely with the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission to create the Northwest Indiana Regional Greenways and Blueways Plan, which is a comprehensive effort to create accessible, navigable, and sustainable land and water trails in 41 municipalities throughout the region. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County will fund a trail connection across the Illinois-Indiana border connecting the Burnham Greenway at 112th St. with northwest Indiana’s extensive greenway system.

IDNR Director Marc Miller said the investment announcements for the Millennium Reserve initiative will allow Illinois to take advantage of the Calumet region’s vast potential for outdoor recreation.

“The Calumet area of Chicago is home to some of Illinois’ richest biodiversity, with a wide variety of wildlife and plant species in the midst of an urban environment,” Miller said. “In the Millennium Reserve, we are following Mother Nature’s course, and creating a destination for all Illinoisans and the 53 million tourists who visit the Chicago area every year.”

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