A Challenging and Successful Year

The holiday season and the New Year bring the potential of a better future, a fresh start, and unlimited possibilities. While this past year has been turbulent, the staff at Friends has much to celebrate over the past 12 months. So as we bid adieu to 2020, we eagerly anticipate building on our successes this coming year.

Among the highlights this past year, we concluded a three-year turtle habitat restoration project and we are beginning a new multi-year restoration effort in the spring. Over 500 acres have been cleared and restored since 2015. We launched the Chicago River Watershed Council with 14 strategic partners to develop regional, nature-based solutions to address stormwater; building on our vision of the river as a blue-green corridor of natural open space and expanding that vision to the watershed. We unveiled new exhibits in the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum showcasing a river now teeming with people and wildlife. We released the Natural Areas Assessment Survey showing overall native plant coverage increased to nearly 70 percent at the 14 targeted work sites that comprise the survey, impacting over 400 acres – the highest percentage total since monitoring began in 2016. And, at Beaubien Woods, we experienced the successful fledging of osprey chicks born atop one of our 80’ tall nesting platforms installed in the forest preserves along the river system. Each one of these achievements is a cause for celebration, as well as an opportunity to think boldly about the next big steps.

A collage of 2020 photos is avaialbe here in a PDF format. 

This year Friends was the recipient of several awards from distinguished groups, adding to the more than 40 awards Friends has received since we were founded in 1979.

  • In recognition of Chicago River Day, the Waterfront Center in Washington D.C. honored Friends with The Clearwater Award.
  • We received a Global Goals Award from The United Nations Association-Greater Chicago for upholding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • We were honored to receive the Conservation Award from the John Muir Association for habitat restoration.

We could not record these accomplishments and surmount the challenges of 2020 without your help. Whether you picked up litter in your neighborhood during the My Chicago River Summer Challenge, planted native seeds in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, or symbolically adopted an osprey or a catfish, you ensured that the Chicago region is home to one of the world’s great metropolitan rivers.

Be a part of the Chicago River system’s exciting future. We encourage you to learn about Overflow Action Days, learn how to use our Litter Free Toolkit, and sign up to volunteer as part of CREW. You can also help all of the activities we mentioned, and so many more, by becoming a Friends member. Your donation will directly improve the Chicago River system for the benefit of people, plants, and animals. Donations made by December 31 will qualify for the 2020 tax year. In addition, under the CARES Act, you can take advantage of the charitable standard tax deduction of up to $300.00 for cash contributions to qualifying organizations like Friends.

Thank you for your support, and we hope we can see you in person in 2021.