Though the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Centennial Celebration ended in 2015, the impact of the 100-year milestone continues through the Centennial Volunteers legacy initiative.
A partnership agreement with Friends of the Forest Preserves (FOTFP), who was recently awarded a grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chi-Cal Rivers Fund to continue to expand the Centennial Volunteers, was approved during the FPCC’s Board of Commissioners February meeting.
The initiative was established in 2014 by a coalition of organizations including Friends of the Chicago River, Audubon Chicago Region, North Branch Restoration Project, FOTFP, and the Forest Preserves, and created a network of stewards and volunteers who conduct ecological restoration projects in the Chicago and Calumet river basins. One of the main goals of the initiative is to engage 6,000 volunteers, inspiring individuals to become dedicated site stewards and volunteers for the Forest Preserves.
Since its establishment, Centennial Volunteers hosted 352 volunteer workdays during Phase 1. Nearly 6,900 volunteers contributed more than 21,000 hours of volunteer time removing invasive plants, collecting native seeds, monitoring wildlife and more at Somme Woods East, Blue Star Woods, LaBagh Woods, Kickapoo Woods and Whistler Woods.
In Phase 2, Centennial Volunteers will extend restoration efforts to include four new sites: Beaubien Woods, River Oaks Woods, Clayton Smith Woods and Forest Glen Woods. The initiative will also bring together new partners including the North Branch Restoration Project, the Chicago Ornithological Society, and The Field Museum.