Together in the New Year

On the first day of 2022, Friends declared that “Together, we will work boldly to achieve our ambitious efforts to improve and protect the Chicago River system for people, plants, and animals – now and into the future.” Today, the last day of 2022, we can proudly state that we kept this New Year’s resolution intact.

All of our members, volunteers, and staff strove through education and outreachon-the-ground projects, and policy and planning work to continue the river system’s renaissance. Our successes have positively impacted everyone ranging from 24,250 patrons of the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum on the Chicago Riverwalk, to the aquatic invertebrates finding shelter in new plantings of water willow and lizard’s tail in the North Shore Channel and Little Calumet River.

However, the most important promise we kept in 2022 was that first word we used. We did it all “together.”

Together we removed tons of litter from the watershed at a record-breaking 77 sites during the 30th annual Chicago River Day, part of the 19,000 volunteer hours spent in service to improving the river. Together we celebrated the river’s health at the Big Fish Ball and a bigger Summer Float Party. Together we reduced water use during Overflow Action Days to prevent combined sewer overflows from forcing sewage into the river. Together we gathered community feedback about river-edge development for comprehensive policy recommendations and shared our visions for what this wonderful natural resource can be. And together we marked the 25th year of our premier education program the Chicago River Schools Network, enriching academic courses with river-based learning for students, helping them grow a life-long sense of stewardship for the river system.

We cannot wait to celebrate all of these accomplishments and more with you at our Member and Volunteer Appreciation Party on February 2, 2023. If you are a Friends member and volunteer, please register today.

We have much to look forward to in 2023. New projects will commence, such as restoring 61.5 acres at Sweet Woods to remove invasive species, infiltrate more stormwater into the ground, and improve aesthetics for users of the Thorn Creek Trail System. Annual favorites such as Chicago River Day and the Big Fish Ball will be May 13 and May 31, respectively. Also, make plans to join us February 17 for the Ice Odyssey Cruise, an unparalleled opportunity to experience the enchanting beauty of the Chicago River on a winter evening.

Who knows what surprises life will throw at us in 2023. But we can be certain of this: once again, we’ll experience it all together.

Thank you, and have a happy new year.