Earth Day at 50

Friends' executive director, Margaret Frisbie, told the Chicago Tribune for its Earth Day at 50 editorial:

In the Chicago area, the progress is visible in the Chicago River, which is now home to some 75 species of fish. “All kinds of birds and wildlife species have returned to the river, including beavers, muskrats, mink, turtles, state-endangered black crown night herons, kingfishers, great blue herons and even the occasional river otter,” says Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River.

People even canoe, kayak and row on it. Not to mention — at least before the coronavirus shutdown — they flock to stroll, dine or sip cocktails on the Chicago Riverwalk, a priceless attraction no one could have imagined a half century ago.

Friends' Earth Day message is:

Earth Day at 50

Earth Day turns 50 tomorrow, marking a half century of environmental activism that changed the way Americans treat ourselves and our planet.

Among the outcomes of this inspired idea are the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All of which have contributed to improved public health, protected wildlife, and provided a pathway for people- and planet-saving actions. Actions that put wolves back in Yellowstone, eagles in the sky, protected wood ducks and blue spotted salamanders, and made it possible to win the battle for clean water in our own Chicago River system.

While progress to date is far from perfect, the truth is that these ground-breaking rules and regulations have had a masterful effect. Yet they are all under threat from a presidential administration which is undermining them and putting all of us at risk while failing to respond to the climate crises which is hiding in shadows behind COVID-19 but ready to pounce.

To address the climate crisis and undo the harm we have done the planet and ourselves, we need far more protections and to rise up in support of policies that benefit people across all communities, which is sorely lacking, and wildlife as well. Policies that directly address climate, that make it harder to pollute, that protect wild places, that reduce water pollution, and that ensure social justice.

At Friends of the Chicago River we are dedicated to that cause and we will be working to get there tomorrow on Earth Day - and every day onward as we have before.