Monday, July 27, 2009
Water trail system in Illinois officially launched
Think globally. Act locally.
A noble phrase that is used to rally local action to protect the environment. As global leaders look toward a new climate change agreement later this year it is important to remember that it is the local efforts of citizens and organizations that leave the most tangible and desired results.
Openlands, an Illinois group that has been protecting the natural habitat and open spaces in the state since 1963 is one such group. The Chicago-based Openlands recently marked the completion of 500 miles of water trails in northern Illinois.
The network of water trails - 10 years in the making - primarily focused on the Little Calumet, DuPage, and Fox rivers. The trails provide Illinois residents with a non-motorized boating environment and other ecological activities. Fifty new launch sites and improved signage were added to more than 250 miles of waterway. The project also rehabilitated shorelines, improved the quality of life for local communities and is a source of civic pride.
“When we began this project more than ten years ago, it was the first initiative of its kind in a metropolitan region in the United States,” said Openlands executive director Jerry Adelmann at a recent celebration to mark the occasion. “We looked at our system of creeks, rivers, streams, and Lake Michigan more comprehensively and identified ways to unify them into a rich and vast resource for people of all ages, interests, and abilities.”
Where it takes a village to raise a child it takes the efforts of many to create a natural water park. Community leaders, three levels of government, NGOs including the Grand Victoria Foundation and business groups banded together to create this unique environmental legacy. The efforts to create the trail are now bearing fruit throughout the nation as the project has been used as a blueprint for replication in Maryland, Minnesota and Washington states.