1998 – Friends of the Forest Preserves was formed by concerned community members to support the Forest Preserve District of Cook County in achieving its mission: to restore, restock, protect and preserve its natural lands together with their flora and fauna for the education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.
2002 – Friends and several nonprofit partners publish a landmark study on problems at the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Following this study, a major reorganization was undertaken, five new reform-minded Commissioners were elected, and a new General Superintendent appointed.
2004 – Friends becomes a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and hires its first executive director, Benjamin Cox.
2005 –Friends works successfully with many Commissioners (especially Mike Quigley and Larry Suffredin) to update the District’s Land Policy.
2005 – Friends leads a campaign that successfully blocks a proposed 23-acre land grab by Mittal Steel in south suburban Riverdale, the first of many.
2006 – Friends helps lift the District’s moratorium on ecological management by volunteers from the last few sites, allowing good stewardship to resume there after 10 years of neglect.
2007 – Friends partners with The Student Conservation Association to launch its pilot program to train minority interns in ecological management. The program is hailed as a model program by the U.S. Forest Service.
2008 – Friends launches a campaign with The Civic Federation to create a Board of Forest Preserve Commissioners that is independent of the Cook County Board.
2009 – Friends partners with The Student Conservation Association to create a high school internship program. The inaugural class of 56 paid interns restores land, improves trails, and learns about conservation.
2010 – Friends helps set a new agenda on forest preserve issues with new Forest Preserve District Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the new Forest Preserve District administration.
2011 – Friends earns more than $1 million in government grants to expand its internship programming, in order to restore ecological health to preserves in the Calumet area.
Today – With a staff of eight and a growing membership, Friends of the Forest Preserves is a strong advocate and partner for the conservation of, education about, and recreation in our county’s natural lands. Please join us!