So here’s a small bit of encouraging news for pollinators.
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has started a pilot program awarding grants to cover the cost of converting turf grass to pollinator habitat in Illinois. Unfortunately, homeowners are not eligible. However, park districts and other local governments as well as not-for-profit organizations may qualify.
Grants can be for up to $20,000. Funded projects must cover a minimum of 2 acres, though the land can be divided into 2 parcels.
You can find out more about the new grant program here.
There’s a lot of useless lawn in parks and on the grounds of colleges, hospitals, etc. At the same time, habitat loss is one of the main drivers of pollinator decline. However, funding for new projects is in short supply almost everywhere, so I’d like to think this will jump start a lot of new habitat conversion projects.
This Foundation was created in 1999 when the legislature forced Commonwealth Edison, our largest utility, to provide a $225 million endowment. The money came from the sale of several power plants.
Many people considered the power plant sale to be a massive windfall for the company, and argued that the profits should go back to consumers in the form of a rebate or lower rates. That never happened, but the Foundation endowment was a compromise of sorts. Later the legislature tried to take the money back to fill a budget hole, but the courts turned them down.
Anyways. While the Foundation’s primary focus is renewable energy, they also have a natural areas program. Grants as small as $10,000 and as large as over $1 million have gone to strengthen conservation organizations, expand or improve natural areas, and fund pollinator projects at local K-12 schools.
So if you sit on the board of an Illinois park district or not-for-profit (or you know someone who does), check out this new grant program. It may open up some possibilities to provide much needed help for pollinators.