Illinois Beach State Park boasts some of the highest quality remnant habitat in the Midwest, but it’s being threatened by invasive plant species. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A kick-off event Sept. 16 is aimed at recruiting more volunteer stewards, whose work helps safeguard the nature preserve’s endangered and threatened species.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

This weekend, you’re invited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the creation of Illinois’ state nature preserves by touring some of state’s rarest and most endangered landscapes. 

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.

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.