The Forest Preserve Friends Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation organized for charitable and educational purposes. The Foundation supports the facilities, programs, services, goals and mission of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. In turn, it generates grant support and collaborative relationships with other agencies.

Your contributions to the Foundation support the projects and activities at the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. Whether helping to acquire land, maintain natural and recreational areas, provide educational experiences, or preserve the County's natural and cultural resources, your gift will touch the lives of generations to come.

2020 Initiatives

Willow Pond Restoration at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve

Remember when Willow Pond was the place to be on a hot, summer day? It brings back memories.. The beach is crowded with moms, dads, and kids of all ages. The smell of coconut suntan lotion wafts through the air, as a game of 'chicken' breaks out in the water. Teens gather for sand volleyball, while toddlers cautiously dip their toes in the cool, clean water.

Today Willow Pond is facing threats. All living things have a life expectancy - even lakes and ponds. Man-made ponds like Willow need periodic restoration to keep them healthy. Silt from run-off and good by-products can degrade water quality over time. Its location over a sand vein means that Willow is also subject to severe water loss during dry spells. Water loss and poor water quality are all-too-common concerns.

What's the solution? The pond must be emptied, dredged, and deepened to improve water quality and fish habitat. Adding a clay liner will prevent future water loss. The plan also calls for new features to return Willow Pond to the summer destination you remember!

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Kickapoo Rail Trail - Phase 2

From what we can tell, you are as excited as we are to have the Kickapoo Rail Trail open! Trail counters indicate that about 290 of you walked, ran, or rode on the trail each day throughout our warm fall season. We know that traffic on the trail will lighten as the temperature falls, but the work won’t stop as we look ahead to Phase Two.

We’ve gotten your feedback. You want benches, bike racks, and signs that tell you where to find ice cream and restrooms. And you want more trail. We do too.  Your gift to the KRT will add user amenities and will continue construction work on Champaign County’s Phase Two. You can also designate your gift to the trail efforts in Vermilion County by adding a note in the comment field on the online donation page.

See you on the KRT!

Design plans for a Homer Lake Interpretive Center replacement

The Homer Lake Interpretive Center connects visitors to something greater than themselves – to community, to nature, and to history . . . and we have seen in the past few years how much you appreciate building those connections!

More than 10,000 of you now visit the Interpretive Center annually – to attend programs, view exhibits, and partner with our staff on projects and activities.

And we know you see even more possibilities for the future of Homer Lake and the Interpretive Center. Along with expansion of Kickapoo Rail Trail – just two miles north of the Center – Homer Lake’s visitation will increase, as it is a perfectly situated destination spot or rest stop for locals and tourists.

If you’ve been to one of our programs lately, you know that we’ve outgrown the current space. Exhibits must be put away to make room for summer camps, public programs, and school groups. And if the weather turns stormy, there are no spaces for indoor program activities. Recent programs have had standing room only crowds.

You deserve a new space so that Homer Lake’s Interpretive Center can adequately serve the community.

Do you remember the wonderful, world-expanding connections you’ve made to community, nature, and history at the Homer Lake Interpretive Center? Your support makes that possible for a growing number of people! The Friends Foundation’s goal is to raise $25,000 to begin this project and kick start the capital campaign. If you’d like to talk to the Foundation about a major gift or naming opportunities for the Interpretive Center, drop us a note at, and one of the board members will get in touch with you.

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Donate Online

By Mail

Click here for a printable form (133kb pdf)

By Phone

(217) 586-3360

Board Members

  • Meredith Mills, Treasurer
  • Bob Espeseth, Secretary
  • Joe Lamb, Vice President
  • Dan Noel, President
  • Rod Beyers
  • Peg Busch
  • Roger Laramee
  • Sarah Livesay
  • Will Timmons
  • Jennifer Vallowe
  • Mary Ellen Wuellner, Executive Director CCFPD