River Commitment Awards Honor Partners and Volunteers

Each year, Friends recognizes partners, stakeholders, and volunteers that help us achieve our vision of making the Chicago River one of the world’s greatest metropolitan rivers with its annual River Commitment Awards.  On October 18, 2017, we held our annual meeting and honored this year's most inspiring partners with the following awards:  the River Champion—awarded for going above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of their organization; Spirit of the River—for extraordinary efforts that embody the spirit of the river, and Volunteer of the Year—awarded to an exemplary volunteer who exceeds all expectations helping the river. 

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Friends, City, and MPC Recognized

On Wednesday, October 11, Friends of the Chicago River, the City of Chicago, and Metropolitan Planning Council received the “Best Plan” Award for “Our Great Rivers” as part of Friends of Downtown’s annual awards for those who advance the quality of life for downtown residents, workers, and visitors. It was Friends' 4th award this year.

 

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River Health Boosts Commerce

The new Odyssey Chicago dinner cruise boat is a great indicator of how much Friends' efforts to improve the Chicago River are paying off not just for people and wildlife but also the economy according to a story in the Chicago Tribune business section today.  “The river is growing in popularity, and it’s certainly much cleaner than it was five, 10, 15 years ago. And there’s been an enormous amount of public and private development. All of that added to the attraction,” said Dan Russell, regional vice president at Odyssey parent Entertainment Cruises.

“New boats coming onto the Chicago River demonstrate that the river has become part of what we have to offer the people who live, work, and visit Chicago; it’s no longer second fiddle,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends' executive director.

 

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September Turtle Tagging

In order to understand how turtles are using the restored sites that Friends cleared to improve their reproductive success, Friends is working with the Forest Preserves of Cook County to track and tag them. In September Maggie Jones, Friends' conservation specialist and Margaret Frisbie, Friends' executive director, worked with FPCC biologist Chris Anchor to measure, weigh, draw blood from and tag the turtles before letting them go back into the river system.

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All Wet in the Chicago River

On September 16, 2017, Friends of the Chicago River and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Josina Morita were joined by elected officials from every level of government for Josina and Friends’ Big Jump into the Chicago River.

Representing the U.S. House of Representatives, the State of Illinois, Cook County, and the City of Chicago as well as partners from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Friends, the 15 jumpers took the plunge to highlight our collective success in improving the river’s water quality and to demonstrate our commitment to making the Chicago River swimmable for all.

Thanks to all who help us make a big splash in the work we do every day!

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

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Friends Recognized with City for Urban Excellence Award

In September, Friends of the Chicago River was among the recipients of a silver medal for Urban Excellence in Design from the Rudy Bruner Foundation for the 2017 Rudy Bruner Awards which recognize transformative places that contribute to the economic, environmental, and social vitality of American cities. 

Friends has been a catalyst for riverfront protection for nearly 40 years and was a part of the Chicago Riverwalk design process from the very beginning.

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Reports of Dead Birds

A series of reports regarding dead birds along the North Shore Channel, North Branch and the Main Stem has triggered a response from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) which suspects Botulism C as the source.

IDNR has asked Friends to field calls regarding dead birds in and along the river so all reports should be directed to mfrisbie@chicagoriver.org.

 

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Dead Ducks on North Shore Channel

Last week a Friends of the Chicago River volunteer reported seeing as many as 50 dead mallards on the North Shore Channel which we reported to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Hazardous Waste Dump Line and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. So far no one has figured out what went wrong but 50 dead ducks is a big deal and we need to do better in taking care of the river and the wildlife which depends upon it.

Anyone with information should contact Friends at (312) 939-0490, ext 10 or at friends@chicagoriver.org ASAP.

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USACE Releases Asian Carp Report

For months, Friends, along with supporters and partners, have been urging Congress to require the Trump administration to release the Brandon Road study that outlines how to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasives from passing upstream into the Chicago River system and the Great Lakes. Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, has released the draft and this is good news. 

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Friends Wins Force of Nature Award

Friends of the Chicago River is honored to have received a 2017 Chicago Wilderness Force of Nature Award for our turtle restoration project.

Over the past three years Friends has cleared 78 acres along the river system so turtles could find new places to nest. Some of these sites had documented nesting the following year. The speed of the turtles’ response is highly unusual in wildlife restoration work. The award recognizes those who “extend above and beyond the ordinary and are inspirational examples for others.”

The award was accepted by Craig Coit, a Friends’ board member and past president.

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