Friends of the Chicago River

Making the Chicago River one of the world's greatest metropolitan rivers.

Friends of the Chicago River
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Friends of the Chicago River

From the Executive Director

Since 1979, Friends has been working to improve the health of the Chicago River system for the benefit of people, plants and animals; and by doing so, has laid the foundation for the river to be a beautiful, continuous, and easily accessible corridor of open space in the Chicago region.

Our work spans the entire 156-mile Chicago River system and its surrounding watershed. We focus on a greener river with healthy habitat, an accessible river that people can use and enjoy, and a river cared for by a broad group of supporters.

Margaret Frisbie

Friends of the Chicago River

What we do

Program 1

Education & Outreach

Our Education and Outreach programs cultivate awareness and stewardship. We believe a broad base of popular support for the Chicago River is essential to the long-term success of efforts to improve it.

Program 2

Public Policy & Planning

We focus on research and policy initiatives, informing elected officials, and partnering with key agencies to help shape policies that have a systematic long-term impact on the river’s health. Our planning committee reviews river edge developments to ensure river sensitive design. And our Clean Water Initiatives improve water quality for people and for wildlife.

Program 3

On-the-Ground Projects

Friends’ On-the-Ground projects physically improve the health of the Chicago and Calumet River system. These projects provide healthy habitat, restore the river’s health and cultivate community spirit.

Friends of the Chicago River


Annual Budget
Year ended June 2016
Program Spend
Fundraising Spend
Management Spend
Executive Director
Margaret Frisbie
Chicago, IL
# Employees
# Volunteers
Friends of the Chicago River


1 day ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

Great day mulching trees at Canalport with Henry Crown. These amazing volunteers moved 2 huge piles of mulch to over 60 trees in just 2 hours! 👀😲💪 ✨🙏🙌🏼@chicagoparks #volunteer #chicagoriver #teamspirit

1 week ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

It’s everybody in on this #chicagoriverday! #trashtag #rivers #losethelitter

1 week ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

Who’s ready for Chicago River Day tomorrow? We are, rain or shine! Registration is closed but you can still participate...go tho, click on the dragonfly, find a location and just show up! We’ll meet ya! #rivers #chicagoriverday #losethelitter #volunteer #environment #canoes #paddling

1 week ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

Heck yea spring has arrived! You can see the inner workings of the Michigan Avenue bridge in action at our McCormick @bridgehousemuseum. #chicagoriver #rivers #bridges #museums #chicago

1 week ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

Met this crayfish at Gompers Park with Josephinum Academy @the_jo_1890. Note the eggs..that’s the kind of stuff your school can learn through Friends of the Chicago River school trips through our Chicago River Schools Network. Contact Mark Hauser at for more info. #crayfish #rivers #chicagoriver #stem #stemeducation.

1 week ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

Classic Chicago River Day photo—from 1992. 25 people at Linne Woods in very first Chicago River Rescue Day. This year: 2000 volunteers at 65 sites...including one near you! Registration is closed but you can still find a location using our map at and show up at 9 a.m. on May 11...

2 weeks ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

You want this cool dragonfly t-shirt, admit it. Register and participate in our Chicago River Day cleanup on May 11 and it’s yours. Free. #rivers #chicagoriver #environment #trash #litter #losethelitter

2 weeks ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

Thanks for the interview today @CarolMarin and the crew at @DePaulU on the future of Bubbly Creek...Look forward to the future #chicagotonight report on @wttw #rivers #chicagoriver

2 weeks ago - @friendsofthechicagoriver

👏👏👏 the volunteers from Beam Suntory out doing litter pickup and restoration work in several @fpdcc sites. Braving the chill and rain for a better #chicagoriver. #growingforgood #losethelitter #rivers #volunteer 👏👏👏

Chicago Tribune

Creating corridor of natural habitats along Chicago River could create jobs, reduce flooding and pollution, study says

A new report commissioned by Friends of the Chicago River says the development of an environmentally friendly “blue-green corridor” along the river system in northeastern Illinois would create $192 million in annual economic benefits, in addition to boosting wildlife, water quality and recreational opportunities.

The study, released Thursday during the river group’s annual summit, says creating an interconnected passageway of natural habitats along the Chicago River system will support more than 1,600 jobs annually while helping to reduce flooding, pollution and the urban heat island effect. This type of development, which has been implemented along waterways in cities such as Houston, Cleveland, San Antonio and Washington, also provides more chances for city residents to access the river and the adjacent land for walking, bicycling, kayaking or simply enjoying the natural habitat.