Friends Receives Chicago Wilderness Award

(left to right) Friends' Planning Director Adam Flickinger, Executive Director Margaret Frisbie, and Planning and GIS Specialist Amy Heldman at the 2023 Chicago Wilderness awards program.

Last week, the Chicago Wilderness Alliance honored Friends of the Chicago River at their Celebration of Conservation. Held at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL, the festivities recognized the 13 recipients of the 2023 George B. Rabb Force of Nature Awards. These people and programs demonstrated exceptional conservation, restoration, advocacy, and/or educational activities which are inspirational examples for others.

Executive director Margaret Frisbie, planning director Adam Flickinger, and planning and GIS specialist Amy Heldman accepted the award in recognition of the Natural Solutions Tool. Created by Friends with the Trust for Public Land, the Natural Solutions Tool emerged from a vision for more strategic and collaborative watershed-wide investments in multi-beneficial nature-based solutions set by the Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance, a coalition launched by Friends in 2020. The Tool helps identify and prioritize projects that have positive impacts for our region’s people, plants, and animals. Stakeholders have already started leveraging the Tool to shape collaborative project funding proposals, to substantiate and enhance advocacy initiatives, and to propel us forward into broader ecosystem restoration efforts across the regional watersheds.

The Force of Nature award marks the second honor the Natural Solutions Tool has received since its public launch in early 2023. Last November, the Chicago Innovation Awards bestowed a 2023 Climate Champion award to Friends for its work on the Natural Solutions Tool.

Friends is proud to be a three-time recipient of the Force of Nature award. Previous honors include our work restoring turtle nesting habitat in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and our project reconnecting Mill Creek to the Cal-Sag Channel. For a full list of 2023 Force of Nature Awards recipients, please see the Chicago Wilderness Alliance’s website.

Friends of the Chicago River has received over 50 and honors awards since we were founded 44 years ago.