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Genoa receives $10K grant for protecting green space

GENOA – The city of Genoa has received a $10,000 Green Region grant from ComEd and Openlands for a gravel trail through part of the community.

“The trail that we received the grant money for connects the trail off Madison Street with the footbridge across the Kishwaukee River,” Rich Gentile, Genoa’s public works director, said. “It will run along the west side of the Kishwaukee River, behind River Bend subdivision.”

He said the path will allow easy access to Russell Woods Forest Preserve.

“We haven’t started any work on it yet, but hope to yet this fall and have it completed by next summer,” Gentile said.

Most of the work will be done by the city’s public works staff, he said.

The proposed trail is part of the ongoing Genoa Prairie Project. Gentile explained that project was the result of a grant of more than $48,000 from the Natural Resource Conservation Service. He said the funds are being used to create wetlands and savannahs.

“The prairie project is a nine-year project that we started in 2008. As we complete each step, we receive a payout,” Gentile said. “We didn’t get that grant in one lump sum.”

This is the first year for the Green Region program in Illinois, a joint effort by ComEd and Openlands to fund municipal conservation and environmental projects. Each applicant was eligible to receive a maximum of $10,000 per project.

Genoa was one of 17 municipalities and nonprofit groups awarded a total of $125,000. Applications were reviewed by an advisory committee of local environmental leaders selected by ComEd and Openlands.

“We formed a volunteer advisory committee, people involved in different aspects of open space – planners, advocates, local government officials,” said Emy Brawley, Openlands’ land preservation director.

“They reviewed each application and ranked them against program criteria,” Brawley said. “These are the projects that scored the highest that wouldn’t otherwise happen without these small grants, and they provide the most immediate public benefit.”

Terry Hannan, superintendent of the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District, sits on the advisory committee.

Hannan said getting the trail to Russell Woods is just the next step in the process. The forest preserve district has pledged an additional $5,000 to the project, and Hannan said DeKalb’s Sunrise Rotary Club will provide assistance as well.

“Eventually, we plan to continue the path on into Kingston, but we don’t have the trail corridor, yet,” Hannan said. “There’s a lot of work left to do; we’re just taking it step by step.”

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