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.

Nature's Appeal

Increasing Accessibility on the Peninsula at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve

During the time of COVID-19, many members of our community are discovering the importance of outdoor spaces. As a friend of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, you understand the value of preserving nature for public use. As we continue to get outdoors and experience all that our preserves have to offer, there are members of our community who do not have the same access to nature that you and I do. We need your help to fix this inequity.

At Lake of the Woods, we are developing a new fully accessible picnic and recreation area at the Lake of the Woods Peninsula. This will include accessible park benches, accessible grills, two new open-air shelters with accessible picnic tables, and the County’s very first accessible kayak and canoe launch. Through this new accessible area, we can together expand the access and enjoyment of nature to ALL members of our community regardless of physical ability.

We have made great progress on this project. We have already installed the accessible kayak and canoe launch in Champaign County. We have raised over half of the funds needed to complete this incredible project. However, as we continue this project we still need your help. The Forest Preserve Friends Foundation needs $31,000 to accomplish this goal. Recognition Opportunities

 Donate Today!

Triple Match Grant for Buffalo Trace Restoration

Thanks to a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, your donations in support of a Buffalo Trace restoration project will be triple-matched this year. That’s right – for every dollar you give, ICECF will give $3!

Buffalo Trace, a 265-acre site at the west side of Lake of the Woods, has a rich history. Named for the bison migration route that makes up its southern border, Buffalo Trace would have been a mix of prairie, savanna, and forest when the first European-American settlers arrived here. As in much of Illinois, the land’s historic vegetation had long been converted to grazing and agriculture when the Champaign County Forest Preserve District took possession in 1976.

Surveyor’s notes from 1822 show the south portion of Buffalo Trace in timber, and the soil indicates the native vegetation was a blend of hardwood species, primarily oak and hickory. Clearing activity left the land without native seed sources, thus allowing invasive trees and shrubs such as Callery pear, white mulberry, autumn olive, and bush honeysuckle to flourish. The District’s natural resources staff has been working diligently to restore native woodland species and provide higher quality habitat for wildlife. 

North of the wooded area, savanna would have given way to tallgrass prairie as the dominant feature of the native Buffalo Trace landscape. Prairie restoration work is also underway, extending to the west from the current established restoration sites along IL-47. In the transitional areas, invasive woody species that hide remaining wolf oaks will be removed to give these trees the space they need to rule the savanna. 

Your gifts to Buffalo Trace, triple-matched by ICECF, will allow the restoration work to continue in earnest. Funds will be used to clear invasive species, and to purchase and plant native prairie, woodland, and savanna seed.

Will you help restore the natural mosaic landscape of Buffalo Trace, and Champaign County’s ecological heritage, for now and for the future?

Donate Today!

Estate Giving

Are you looking for ways to support the Champaign County Forest Preserve District along with its facilities, programs, goals, and missions during your lifetime or as a lasting legacy? Then consider the Forest Preserve Friends Foundation as a means of satisfying this lifetime charitable objective or as a legacy under your estate plan.

Lifetime gifts to the Forest Preserve Friends Foundation can be made in a variety of forms including cash, appreciated securities, and real estate. These types of gifts can provide you with financial benefit in the form of income tax deductions and reduction of capital gains tax all while benefiting the Champaign County Forest Preserve District.

Legacy gifts of cash, securities, and real estate can also be made to the Champaign County Forest Preserve Friends Foundation by naming the Foundation as a beneficiary under a Will or Trust. This allows you to continue your current lifestyle through the use of these assets during your lifetime together with the flexibility to change your plans as necessary due to life changes, all while ultimately benefiting the Champaign County Forest Preserve District after your death. Estate tax benefits may also be obtained by such legacy gifts.

 A lifetime and legacy gift might also include establishing a Charitable Remainder Trust.  Such a trust can provide regular payments for yourself, your spouse, or a loved one for life and benefit the Champaign County Forest Preserve Friends Foundation as the beneficiary of the Trust after death. Charitable Remainder Trusts can provide income tax deductions, can eliminate capital gains tax on lifetime gifts, and provide estate tax savings at death.

Other simple forms of assets and means to consider in leaving a legacy to the Forest Preserve Friends Foundation might include naming the Foundation as beneficiary of retirement plan assets, life insurance, bank accounts, or investment accounts. Naming the Foundation as direct beneficiary of retirement plan assets provides a way of transferring assets to the Foundation on a tax-free basis.

 If you are interested in discussing these ideas with us, please contact or your personal legal or financial advisor.

Board Members

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