checking wq to protect

People + Legislation = Water Quality Protection

by Gary Swick Having access to clean water is a need for all living things. The natural environment provides that through the hydrological cycle. Humans routinely interrupt that process and threaten their own water quality. It is the mission of Friends of the Fox River to protect our watershed through education, restoration, research, and advocacy. … Read more


The Fox’s Formerly Phenomenal Filtering Freshwater Mussels

By Arthur Malm It has been 100 years since the passage of Illinois’ Sanitary District Act of 1917. That Act allowed voters to petition for a referendum to form a sanitary district and build treatment plants to “conduce to the preservation of the public health, comfort and convenience”(1).  Since that Act’s passage great strides have … Read more

water drop

Finding Harmony with the Fox River

by Gary Swick McHenry County Green Drinks recently invited Friends of the Fox River to talk about paddling the Fox River. We decided that our Executive Director Gary Mechanic would talk about the physical aspects of paddling, and I would offer a spiritual perspective. I’m a spiritual guy, but I’m also a science guy. I … Read more

Meet Your Neighbors: Spring Cuties

By Jack MacRae Ephemeral Flora Spring beauties (claytonia) are true cuties. They’re wee little flowers found in our mature oak and maple woods. Look close and you’ll see five peppermint pink striped petals that form a saucer shape corolla, two soft green sepals that form the calyx, and five stamens with pretty in pink anthers. They … Read more

heart river

Love Our River Days

by Gary Mechanic, Executive Director The Fox River has come a long way from the days when it was the most used and abused river in Illinois. An 1908 monograph describes the Fox River: “… the tributaries often bring large amounts of sediment, and various manufactories along the river discharge a large amount of refuse … Read more

Fox fall color

2018 Annual Photography Contest

Our Annual Photography Contest has become a big hit, so we are excited to step it up this year! Our theme this time around is “SEASONS OF THE FOX RIVER.” We want you to try to capture the beauty of the Fox River in the context of a particular time of year. Spring, summer, fall … Read more

Meet Your Neighbors: Crust Fungus Among Us

by Crusty Jack MacRae There are not too many forms of fungus you can spot from 60 yards away.  But the next time you’re visiting your favorite ancient oak woodlands in the Fox River’s watershed, take note of the wide, pale gray bands of smooth bark on the trunks. I grew up calling it “cow rub”, but … Read more

Fox River gravel bar

Diversity and Stability

by Gary Swick One of the basic concepts of ecology is that diversity leads to stability. The Fox River watershed has two kinds of diversity! It can boast of biological diversity, and a diversity of groups that work to preserve and increase the biological diversity. Diverse Origins Illinois may seem like a simple landscape. Most … Read more

Carpentersville Dam

Dams of the Fox River, A Layperson’s View

by Eric Pepa When I became a member of Friends of the Fox River several years ago, one of the first things I learned was that we were not Friends of the dams of the Fox River. As a layperson (an architect by profession), my interest in the Fox River has been mostly recreational. I … Read more

Meet Your Neighbors: Where Do the Ducks Go in Winter?

by Gary Mechanic The hero of J.D.Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” Holden Caulfield famously wanted to know where the ducks go in winter, and who doesn’t? While some of us, and many of our furred and feathered neighbors leave before winter, some that stay survive by using clever tactics. Puff Up, Shiver & Eat Overwintering … Read more