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Plans released for Canal Alliance Congress

Fall session takes place at environmental center in Channahon Oct. 16

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

LEMONT – The Canal Corridor Association, the local coordinating entity for the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, has announced plans for its Canal Alliance Congress fall session.

The session will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 16 along the I & M Canal at the Four Rivers Environmental Center, 25055 S. Walnut Lane, Channahon. 

Directors and staff from tourism agencies, community planners, historic preservationists, as well as interpreters, conservationists, educators, parks and recreation professionals, municipality representatives and economic development specialists are invited to attend.

The fall event, which is expected to draw more than 125 participants, is a follow-up session to the first such congress held last spring, which drew strong attendance by partners from state, regional and local entities.

“Our first Alliance Congress was widely applauded for bringing folks with common goals together,” said Ana Koval, AICP, president and CEO of the Canal Corridor Association.

“For our fall congress, we’re again expecting a wide range of partners eager to come together to connect, communicate and collaborate,” she said. “With the area’s historic preservation partners being vital to the canal community, we anticipate strong representation of the many great Grundy County tourism destinations and members at our Alliance Congress.” 

A broad-based program is planned for the Alliance Congress. Updates on local partner initiatives, regional and national long-term programs, networking and partnership opportunities will all be part of the event, Koval said.

“The Congress Alliance is a unique collaboration,” Koval said. “It’s a one-stop shop of current project updates, while building partnerships and strategies towards collaborative goals. Finally, it’s timely for all of us to focus on the collective strengths as the nation’s first National Heritage Corridor, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014.”

Representatives from the National Park Service will be on hand to discuss NPS current projects relating to interpretation along the corridor, redrawing the landmark boundaries and history of the underground railroad as it relates to the I&M Canal.

The keynote speaker will be Candy Welch Streed, program and partnership director of the Silo & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, presenting “Where the Story of American Agriculture Comes to Life,” a model program for multi-level collaboration among over 100 regional partners.

Also presenting will be Craig Williams, AICP, senior planner at Alta Planning, discussing “How to Attract Bicyclists to the IMCNHC Trails.” 

Canal Alliance and Canal Corridor Association Board member Michele Micetich of Carbon Hill will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Mary Poulson of the city of Blue Island is also working with Koval and the following members in planning the regional collaborative event: Mark Bouman of The Field Museum, Chicago; and Kelly Klobucher of the Hegeler Carus Foundation in La Salle. 

Registration for the Alliance Congress is required and can be made by calling CCA at 815-223-1851; the fee for participation is $30 for IMCNHC members and $50 for nonmembers, and includes continental breakfast, lunch and all presentation materials. Deadline for registration is Oct. 9. 

The Canal Corridor Association is the local coordinating entity for the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, the nation’s first national heritage corridor. The Canal Corridor Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve history, protect nature and open space and create destinations where people can learn and have fun along the I&M Canal, from Chicago to La Salle/Peru. 

The Canal Corridor Association manages the Lock 16 Visitor Center and owns the La Salle Canal Boat. More information can be found at www.iandmcanal.org, iandmcanal.wordpress.com , or www.lasallecanalboat.org.

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