During last summer's drought, volunteers from local businesses and clubs were sweating as they shoveled dirt and planted native plants in the soil at the Niles Community Rain Garden.
Their efforts have won a Chicago-wide award.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, and Chicago Wilderness, a regional environmental alliance, honored the Niles Community Rain Garden with one of its annual Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards.
Chosen due to volunteers, flooding prevention
"The Village of Niles’ Community Rain Garden was chosen...because of its exceptional ecological and educational value. It is a community asset that helps reduce flooding by absorbing stormwater. Additionally, this garden has done a tremendous job of engaging partners, including Chris’ Landscaping and Coca Cola," said Melinda Pruett-Jones, executive director of Chicago Wilderness.
While the Chicago area hosts many rain gardens, she said Niles' garden is distinct because it has been so successful in engaging partners, and is maintained almost entirely by volunteers.
"Additionally, it is an excellent community model in stormwater management, especially given its highly visible location," Pruett-Jones said. More information on rain gardens is available on the Center for Neighborhood Technology's website.
Awards are for "conservation excellence"
The awards "are a celebration of conservation excellence: the recipients are inspiring examples of passionate and hardworking stewards committed to restoring and enhancing the health of nature in our region,” said Melinda Pruett-Jones, executive director of Chicago Wilderness.
EPA and Chicago Wilderness, an alliance of public, private and corporate organizations focusing on nature and sustainability, made the awards to park districts, forest preserve districts, nonprofit organizations, local governments and corporations.
They were given for exemplary natural landscaping, ecological restoration and conservation design projects, the organization said.
List of award recipients
The award recipients for outstanding conservation, native landscaping and sustainable design projects during 2012 are (project name, project manager):
• Gaslight Park Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary, Village of Algonquin
• Nature Trails, Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
• Henry Palmisano Park, Chicago Park District
• Sherman Park Lagoon Restoration, Chicago Park District
• Bergman Slough Land and Water Reserve, Forest Preserve District of Cook County
• McMahon Fen Nature Preserve, Forest Preserve District of Cook County
• Iroquois Sands, Friends of the Kankakee
• Heatherwood Estates Pond, Heatherwood Estates Homeowners Association
• Red Mill Park Great Lakes Ecosystem Restoration, LaPorte County Parks
• Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo
• Loyola Academy Wetland Restoration, Loyola Academy
• Naper Settlement Stormwater Management Improvements, City of Naperville
• Niles Community Rain Garden and Prairie Plant Project, Village of Niles
Conservation Developments will be awarded to the following (project name, project managers):
• Olde Schaumburg Center Parking Lot, Village of Schaumburg
Certificates of Merit will be awarded to the following (project name, project managers):
• Empowerment through Education and Exposure, Saferfoundation DOE
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