Long before the Calumet Region became a booming center of steel production, it was part of the most extensive network of wetlands in the Midwest.
Today, two decades after the decline of the steel industry, Calumet bears a legacy of both environmental riches and industrial scars. A short drive would reveal bird-filled marshes, abandoned factories, slag heaps, popular riverfront fishing spots, active industries, landfill "hills," and patches of forestland. While the region’s residents struggle with limited economic opportunities and share serious concerns about pollution, they are also proud of the remaining natural areas and the local industrial heritage.
The Calumet challenge is to bring creativity and innovation to the task of revitalizing the local economy and environment. Calumet Initiative partners share this goal—local residents, planners, researchers, citizen scientists, government officials, educators and businesses are helping to create a new vision for the region’s social, economic, and environmental future.