Local volunteers aim to keep one area river clean and accessible for everyone to enjoy. This group from Stephenson County has received national attention for their conservation efforts, including from United States Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.
Just four years young, the Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation brought the community together to promote a healthy environment, enhance recreation opportunities, and showcase what the Pecatonica River has to offer.
"If you don't get the message out, people won't come. We have people from Wisconsin, people from the Chicago area, from Oregon, Illinois," said Joe Ginger, President of the Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation.
River preservation and river access are just some of the goals of the Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation. The group has worked closely with local park districts to develop public access sites, including boat launches and fishing piers at Damascus Landing on Cedarville Road and others throughout Stephenson County. Volunteers donated their time, efforts, and hard work.
Working with national organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, and the National Park Service, projects along the river have been paid for with grant money. But local fundraisers and donations are important too.
"I think the community just believes in what we're doing. They like the idea that all the money stays local and that 100% of the money that we earn goes back into our projects," said John Fritz, fundraising chairman.
The group's latest project is Atten's Landing on Farwell Bridge Road, where wetland restoration, a new canoe and kayak dock, and fishing piers are planned.
If you'd like to know more about the Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation, their third annual fish fry fundraiser is Friday, September 13, at 4pm at Rock Hollow Conservation Club near Freeport.