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Volunteers turned out Oct. 2, 2021 for Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves’ first recruitment event at Shaw Woods. (Courtesy Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves)

Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves, founded in 2020 to rally support for the state’s protected natural areas, is now launching a major recruitment effort to grow its ranks and muster a corps of volunteers to steward the sites in a race against invasive species and climate change.

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A swamp at Round Pond Nature Preserve. (Courtesy Illinois Nature Preserves Commission)

Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves was founded last year to increase support for and restoration of the state’s most precious lands, which boast more biodiversity than the Grand Canyon and are more endangered than the Great Barrier Reef.