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Friends' Executive Director Named 2017 River Hero

Friends' executive director, Margaret Frisbie was recently named a 2017 River Hero by the national advocacy group, River Network, which recognized five leaders from the river and water conservation community for their exceptional personal and professional achievements in support of river and water protection and restoration. 

“For nearly two decades, Margaret Frisbie has championed efforts to transform the Chicago River from a forgotten back alleyway into a thriving and respected national resource,” says Openlands' staff attorney, Stacy Meyers. Since being appointed to her position as executive director of Friends of the Chicago River in 2005, Frisbie has been working to improve water quality for the Chicago River system. “Margaret Frisbie truly embodies a river hero,” says Meyers. 

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With Help Fish Populations Continue to Improve

With continued improvements in water quality such as more dissolved oxygen and less sewage, fish populations in the Chicago River have been increasing well. Friend and the Department of Natural Resources are helping by increasing reproductive habitat for channel catfish and, starting next week, we will plant water willow and lizard's tail, native plants that should thrive despite the ups and downs of the Chicago River from rain events and which provide great cover for small fish and all kind of aquatic invertebrates.

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River Photo Bomb a Blast

“More than 200 hundred river supporters showed up for our “Keep the Chicago River Clean” photo bomb yesterday,” said Friends’ executive director, Margaret Frisbie. “Their energy and enthusiasm was overwhelming and demonstrates how people care for the river and want to help make it healthy any way they can.

“In addition to MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos and Commissioners Barbara McGowan, Debra Shore, and Kari Steele (pictured here),  representatives a host of partner organizations joined in including the Chinese American Service League, City Winery, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Friends of the Forest Preserves, SOM, USEPA, and Wendella. It is all of our work together that is bringing the river to life.”

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We Need You on the Riverwalk Wednesday

April is Overflow Action Month and to build awareness Friends of the Chicago River is planning a giant group photo event on the Chicago Riverwalk at the River Theater between Clark and LaSalle. Friends’ goal is to attract hundreds of people who will be photographed on the large stairs there demonstrating they want the river to be healthy and clean. 

Giant Group Photo on the Chicago Riverwalk April 26

Chicago Riverwalk - River Theater between Clark and LaSalle at 12:15 p.m.


"The river has improved dramatically,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends’ executive director, “and there is so much interest in it right now that it is almost difficult to keep track of it all. However, despite everyone’s enthusiasm for the Chicago Riverwalk, new developments, and getting out on the water there are still a lot of complex problems we need to address including stormwater runoff and occasional sewage pollution—especially this month when there’s been so much rain. We want to people to be aware. Therefore we are holding the Keep the River Clean Photobomb and hope that at least 500 people will join us to represent the thousand who care.  We implore everyone to tell their friends and co-workers, and get ready to smile for the river."


The Overflow Action initiative was launched last year to conserve and protect clean, fresh water and reduce pollution to the river. During the month of April, Friends is running a 30 day campaign to engage people in water conservation activities to help the Chicago River. The photobomb takes place on April 26, 2017, at 12:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information on this event, contact Joanne So Young Dill, director of strategic initiatives, at (312) 939-0490, ext. 23, jdill@chicagoriver.org. 

Friends hopes to capture the spirit of the river through the smiling faces of those who truly care.

Home page photo courtesy Steven Dahlman-Loop North New

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Reconnecting the River

Friends of the Chicago River has been working to reconnect the river since 2004 when we conducted a feasibility study that found the removal of the North Branch Dam would increase essential dissolved oxygen for aquatic life at the same time it opened up critical upper North Branch habitat and made the river safer for paddlers.

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Overflow Action Month: 30 Days of Action

Today U.S. Senator Dick Durbin; U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Mariyana Spyropoulos, President, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; and Mike Borgstrom, President, Wendella joined Friends in announcing that April is Overflow Action Month to engage people across the watershed in 30 days of action and awareness that will conserve and protect clean, fresh water--which is one of our most valuable assets--and reduce the chance that sewage and stormwater pollution will reach the river.

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All About Riffles

Babbling brooks don't just sound good, they are good and a sign of life because the babble is often really the sound of water flowing quickly over rocks which bounces it around and adds oxygen. Known as a riffle these reaches, which can be as little as an inch deep, also provide protection from predators, food depostion, and shelter.

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