Chicago River Blue Awards Announced

Matt Freer of the Chicago Park District accepts the 2022 Blue Ribbon Award for the Ford Environmental Center at Big Marsh Park.

Friends of the Chicago River has named the winners of the 2021-2022 Chicago River Blue Awards recognizing river-sensitive projects for exceptional contributions to continuing the improvement of the Chicago-Calumet River system.

The top prize, the Blue Ribbon Award, was presented for the highest standard river-sensitive projects in 2021 and 2022. The 2021 Blue Ribbon Award was given to The Forge: Lemont Quarries for its innovative leadership in outdoor recreation. The 300-acre adventure park located in Lemont, Illinois offers numerous educational opportunities such as skills development programs, school field trips, and environmental education programming. The beautiful park also offers mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboat excursions.

Click Here for More Detail About Each Winner 

The 2022 Blue Award was presented to The Ford Calumet Environmental Center which embodies how nature and the built environment can exist in harmony. The diverse array of plant species on the site filter the building’s blackwater, diverting it from the sometimes overburdened sewer system. The Ford Calumet Environmental Center encourages environmental education throughout the Calumet region, supporting Friends’ education and outreach goals of cultivating awareness and stewardship. We also congratulate Friends of Big Marsh, a key project team partner of the Ford Calumet Environmental Center.

“Each of the award winners represent excellence in river-sensitive design, planning, and creative thinking that is vital to improve and protect the Chicago-Calumet River system as a natural, vibrant and healthy blue-green corridor for people and wildlife,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River.

Winners of Silver Ribbon Awards include: The African American Heritage Trail by Openlands; and the Wild Mile Floating Park, Learning Platform by Urban Rivers.

Honored with Green Ribbon Awards were: Natalie Creek Flood Control Project by Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD); Riverview Bridge and Trail Connection by Chicago Department of Transportation; the Lincoln Village Pedestrian Bridge by the Chicago Department of Transportation; the Wetlands Restoration and Preservation Plan by the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission; and Wolf Point East by Wolf Point East Investors LLC.

More information about each of the winners of the 2021-2002 River Blue Awards is available on Friends’ website.

Since the first awards in 2010, Friends of the Chicago River has recognized a total of 77 projects that represent both large-scale initiatives and the equally important individual actions of river-edge property owners and elected officials including Chicago Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel to improve and protect the Chicago-Calumet River system.

The awards were announced Friends’ annual Big Fish Ball held June 1 at the Westin Chicago River North hotel.