Officials unveiled the first half of a long-awaited trail that will connect Southland communities seeking recreation along the Cal-Sag Channel.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) joined federal, state and local officials to open the west segment of the Cal-Sag Trail, extending 13 miles from Lemont to Alsip. The MWRD dedicated half of the land on which the trail was built.
"We are thrilled to make this contribution and see the first half of the Cal-Sag Trail come into fruition," said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos. "This trail will connect communities and lives, and it is our belief that everyone should have access to our waterways and green space. The Cal-Sag Channel is particularly important to the MWRD, because we have been tasked with protecting and improving it, and we are happy any time we have a chance to highlight our work and utilize this critical resource."
Although the trail has been more than 10 years in the making, area planning maps from as far back as the 1970s promoted a multi-use path along the waterway. The trail was eventually made possible thanks to federal and state contributions, MWRD land donations and extensive community outreach and fundraising efforts from local municipalities, Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail and other local organizations.
When totally complete, the Cal-Sag Trail will connect 14 communities within the Southland and Millennium Reserve area, from Lemont all the way to the Burnham Greenway near the Indiana border. The eastern segment is scheduled to be complete by 2017. The 13-mile western segment runs along the Cal-Sag Channel from 131st Street and Cicero Avenue in Alsip on the east to Archer Avenue and Route 83 on the west end. Much of it runs through Cook County Forest Preserves, and it connects with several existing bike trails in the forest preserve system.
While more than 185,000 people live in the 14 communities a mile from the trail, more than 1.2 million people live within a 15 minute drive of the Cal-Sag Trail. Not only will the trail preserve and enhance the natural and historical qualities of the channel and Calumet River, it will provide an accessible opportunity for recreation and healthy lifestyles, said Steve Buchtel, executive director of Trails for Illinois.
"This is the most important health infrastructure project in Illinois in the last 20 years. There is no hospital, no fitness center, no physicians network in Illinois that's going to improve the health and wellbeing more for so many people as the Cal-Sag Trail. And as this trail connects to the communities east of Alsip and other trail systems, that health impact is going to grow," Buchtel said.
When complete, the Cal-Sag Trail is expected to be the longest trail in the Southland and will the busiest regional trail in the Chicago area after the Chicago lakefront trail.
The trail will be used by bicyclists, hikers and neighbors. In addition to recreational opportunities, the trail is expected to create a rise in business opportunities. The trail connects users to regional trails, transit, retail areas, parks, forest preserves, marinas and nature centers.
"This trail has changed people's perspective about the Cal-Sag Channel 180 degrees," Buchtel said. "The towns are talking about incorporating the trail and views of the channel into development and open space projects. People are clamoring to clean up all this invasive brush that blocks view of the river-that's a word people are using. It's a river now, because of the trail."
President Mariyana Spyropoulos, Commissioners Timothy Bradford and Debra Shore and others participated in the Cal-Sag Bike trail ribbon cutting recently.
The Southeast Environmental Task Force joined the Sierra Club in their Beyond Coal campaign.
Guest story via Politico:
How Mike Bloomberg, red-state businesses, and a lot of Midwestern lawyers are changing American energy faster than you think.
By Michael Grunwald
The war on coal is not just political rhetoric, or a paranoid fantasy concocted by rapacious polluters. It’s real and it’s relentless. Over the past five years, it has killed a coal-fired power plant every 10 days. It has quietly transformed the U.S. electric grid and the global climate debate.
The industry and its supporters use “war on coal” as shorthand for a ferocious assault by a hostile White House, but the real war on coal is not primarily an Obama war, or even a Washington war. It’s a guerrilla war. The front lines are not at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Supreme Court. If you want to see how the fossil fuel that once powered most of the country is being battered by enemy forces, you have to watch state and local hearings where utility commissions and other obscure governing bodies debate individual coal plants. You probably won’t find much drama. You’ll definitely find lawyers from the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the boots on the ground in the war on coal.
Beyond Coal is the most extensive, expensive and effective campaign in the Club’s 123-year history, and maybe the history of the environmental movement. It’s gone largely unnoticed amid the furor over the Keystone pipeline and President Barack Obama’s efforts to regulate carbon, but it’s helped retire more than one third of America’s coal plants since its launch in 2010, one dull hearing at a time. With a vast war chest donated by Michael Bloomberg, unlikely allies from the business world, and a strategy that relies more on economics than ecology, its team of nearly 200 litigators and organizers has won battles in the Midwestern and Appalachian coal belts, in the reddest of red states, in almost every state that burns coal.
( read the rest of the story at: http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2015/05/inside-war-on-coal-000002 )
I hope this has an impact on people. Pope Francis recently spoke about climate change. Yes, it's real:
Pope Francis made the religious case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.
Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the first Argentinian pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos” is a Christian value, noting that failure to care for the planet risks apocalyptic consequences.
“Safeguard Creation,” he said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
The pope centered his environmentalist theology around the biblical creation story in the book of Genesis, where God is said to have created the world, declared it “good,” and charged humanity with its care. Francis also made reference to his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, who was a famous lover of animals, and appeared to tie the ongoing environmental crisis to economic concerns — namely, instances where a wealthy minority exploits the planet at the expense of the poor.
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said.
Francis also said that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry.
“But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”
SETF is an environmental nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the southeast side and south suburbs of Chicago by promoting environmental education, pollution prevention, and sustainable development.