Civic leaders created the nation’s first forest preserve system here in Cook County nearly 100 years ago. Consequently, Cook County has some of the highest-quality natural areas in the state, right here in its most populous region. Friends is dedicated to protecting the 68,000 acres of forest preserves through restoration and political advocacy. It’s been almost 100 years since citizens such as Jens Jensen and Dwight Perkins worked to establish the forest preserves. We have to work just as hard to make sure that healthy, natural areas are here for another 100 years.
Friends was formed to help solve serious problems in the forest preserves of Cook County. As an independent non-profit, Friends provides oversight by attending all Forest Preserve District board meetings, making policy and budget recommendations, and fending off land grabs. We also believe that in order for the Forest Preserve District to properly function, it needs an independent board of forest preserve commissioners.
For many years, the forest preserves weren’t getting the attention they deserve – invasive brush turned thousands of acres into impassible thorn thickets, preserve land was sold, and trash littered the landscape. Friends works to restore the preserves in many ways.
- We advocate for support from the Forest Preserve District for all volunteers working in the forest preserves. Volunteer.
- Our internship programs are among the most important work we do. Friends interns plant seeds as well as remove the invasive species that are the cancer of our ecosystems. They earn stipends while restoring woods and prairies and learn about careers in the conservation field. Jobs & Internships
- Government and foundation funding allows us to hire contractors for large-scale, on-the-ground restoration projects such as removing invasive species, restoring hydrology, and conducting controlled burns. Donations at Work.