Long Lake

Saving Long Lake – Part One

By Gary Mechanic, Executive Director Late last year one of the final pages of a decades long battle to save Long Lake (in Lake County Illinois) came to a close when Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a settlement with Baxter Healthcare that will end that company’s decades-long pollution of Long Lake. Behind the Attorney … Read more


“So Far So Good…Part 1”

By Art Malm, P.E., FOFR Director The Illinois State Water Survey and the Prairie Research Institute of the University of Illinois have completed a major new water quality study for the Fox River.  “Water Quality Trends Analysis for the Fox River Watershed: Stratton Dam to the Illinois River” (“WQTA”) shows the water quality of our … Read more

Chipping Sparrow

Meet Your Neighbors: Chipping Sparrows

By Jack MacRae Every April, a paranoid little bird appears in my yard.  He perceives his adversaries everywhere he turns.  He then feels compelled to physically confront these interlopers with every fiber of his 0.43 ounce body. Unfortunately, he is seeing his own reflection.  He cannot comprehend that he is the bird in the gazing globe, hubcap, rear-view mirror, … Read more

fox river by gm

State of the Fox River Report

By Gary Swick This year’s State of the Fox River Report is a celebration of things gone well and progress that deserves recognition. But this is an interactive report and celebration! So whenever you see a 👏, please celebrate by standing and yelling, politely clapping, smiling & nodding, or shouting out: “Hell, Yeah!” Ready to … Read more

Meet Your Neighbors: Voley Moley!

By Furry Jack MacRae Voles live fast and die young.  There are millions of these mousy rodents in our grassy neighborhoods throughout the Fox River’s watershed, but they almost never make it to their second birthday. Meadow voles have their own cycle of life.  Bio-chronologists have learned voles do not subscribe to a typical 24 hour circadian rhythm, but … Read more

Gary Swick and Otter Creek Middle School

Resolve to Be a Better Friend

By Gary Swick, President In December’s newsletter, I offered the Fox River’s holiday gift list. I also promised that I would suggest a few resolution ideas to help you to give the Fox River what  it wants. The resolutions should be specific, achievable, relevant, measurable, and personal. We are all friends of the Fox River, … Read more

students in a stream

Student Monitoring Season Wrap-up

By Meghan Yancey The fall water quality monitoring season has come to a successful end! This was my first season with Friends of the Fox River (FOFR) and it’s been great for me to see both students and teachers committed to continuing this work. This fall we worked with 12 schools and over 1,000 students … Read more


Stardust, Mercury and Smallmouth Bass for Dinner

By FOFR Director Art Malm, P.E. Since I’ve received no dam questions this month I’ll take this opportunity to start a conversation about contamination of fish in Our Fox. As Joni Mitchell famously sang at Woodstock, and astrophysicists now explain, we are all stardust. Every element in our body, all the carbon, oxygen, phosphorous, calcium … Read more

chestnut tree

Meet Your Ex – Next Door Neighbor!

By Jack Frost MacRae They were the perfect American tree. They were among the tallest, the widest, and had the straightest grain. They grew fast, were numerous, and were resistant to rot and decay. Their nuts fed billions. They were pretty. And, Mel Torme wrote a celebrated song about them. Then the blight came and … Read more