About Us

The mission of the Friends of the Kankakee is to support the US Fish and Wildlife Service in its goals to preserve the biological and cultural diversity of the Kankakee River Basin through the establishment of the Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area (KNWR&CA).  We will work with individuals and groups, public and private, who promote our mission.

Until the early 1900’s the Grand Kankakee Marsh was one of the largest inland marshes in the US.  It was made up of thousands of acres of wetlands, savannas, prairies and forests in Indiana and Illinois and was one of the best hunting and fishing areas in the U.S.  With the dredging of the Kankakee River in Indiana, much of this land was converted to farmland.  In Illinois, the river continues in its original bed, and upland remnants of black oak savannas and sand prairies remain.

In 2005 the Friends began to protect land in N. E. Iroquois and S. E. Kankakee counties with a goal of helping to create a large greenbelt connecting Willow Slough State Fish & Wildlife Area, the Iroquois County State Wildlife Area, Hooper Branch Savanna Nature Preserve, Kankakee Sands in Indiana, and other protected areas. We have acquired nearly 250 acres, over 78 of which are registered as Illinois Land and Water Reserve. On May 25, 2016 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service accepted our donation of 66 acres to establish the KNWR&CA. Further donations to USF&WS are pending.

The KNWR&CA would protect and restore both uplands and wetlands, helping to save numerous state threatened or endangered species. It would help control flooding and provide increased hunting, fishing, and recreation opportunities.

Please join us in our effort to build support for the KNWR&CA .

Our logo was designed by professional artist, Jenny Vogt, and shows a couple enjoying a paddle down the beautiful Kankakee River.  Overhead flies a pair of Whooping Cranes, a federally-endangered species now being seen regularly in the Kankakee Sands area during migration.

Chris Salberg