Blog

Fourth Annual Forest Preserves Photo Contest

Accepting submissions September 1 -15, 2015!   It’s that time of year again! We’re looking for your very best photos of Forest Preserves landscapes, close-ups of plants, insects, birds and other wildlife, pictures that highlight the seasons and shots of people enjoying the outdoors or participating in our recreational offerings.   This year’s winning photos will be showcased in the 2016 Forest Preserves of Cook County Wall Calendar, on FPDCC.com, on Forest Preserves social media accounts, in an exhibit displayed at the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago and in various suburban courthouses. Each winning photographer will also receive 10 copies of the calendar as well as a Forest Preserves prize package.

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Love the Palos Preserves’ Singletrack Trails? Thank CAMBr!

CAMBr (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers) is well-known for its high-energy Palos Meltdown, a two-day race and exhibition extravaganza held annually in August on the Palos Preserves’ extensive singletrack trail system. Less well-known is that CAMBr members volunteer over 2,000 hours each year to build and maintain those same natural surface singletrack trails enjoyed by runners, bikers, equestrians and hikers.

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Eagle Scout Project Sinks PVC Pipe for Fish

Many Cook County residents are surprised to learn that the fishing lakes they enjoy in the Forest Preserves are not natural features of the landscape, but vestiges of 20th century land use. Most of the lakes began as rock quarries or as “borrow pits” that supplied material for the construction of the Illinois highway system. When these pits were no longer needed, they were converted into bodies of water and stocked with fish for recreation.

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Uncovering Cook County’s Past in the Preserves

By President Toni Preckwinkle   Summer is always a popular season at the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Our 300 miles of trails, free activities, six nature centers, three aquatic centers and new campgrounds offer something for everyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors. But this summer is also a time where we’ve literally rolled up our sleeves. Teams of archaeologists have been working across the county in search of clues to our cultural past.

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Bike Rentals Launch at Dan Ryan Woods & Along North Branch Trail

Can’t bring your bike to the preserves? Rent one through Bike and Roll!

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Preview Our Centennial Celebration with “Taste of the Forest Preserves”

Thursday, August 20, 3:30 - 6:30 pm in Cummings Square, River Forest   The Forest Preserves has been protecting and restoring land for 100 years, but preserving nature in Cook County is only half our story. The other half is written by you, and how you choose to explore and connect with your preserves.

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Did You Know? Dead Trees Play an Important Role

“Why don’t you clean up the dead trees in the forest?” is one of the most frequent questions residents ask the Forest Preserves’ Resource Management staff. While dead trees may not be the most attractive part of a forest, they are essential to its health. As dead wood is decomposed (by fungi, bacteria and other life forms) it aids new plant growth by returning important nutrients to the ecosystem.

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Counting Down to 100 Years, 100 Events

By President Toni Preckwinkle   Summer is in full swing, and the Forest Preserves of Cook County offer numerous activities as a way to get warmed up for our signature centennial, “100 Years, 100 Events.”

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How to Band an Osprey in 10 Photos (and a Video)

With 16 osprey platforms and about a dozen active nests each year, the Forest Preserves can claim the most successful urban osprey program of its kind in North America. Programs like the one started at the Forest Preserves in the 1980s have helped osprey populations recover from major declines due in part to the agricultural use of DDT from the 1950s to early 1970s. Click here to learn more about the Forest Preserves osprey program.   Forest Preserves biologists monitor these active nests, visiting each one in early summer to band and check on the health of the osprey chicks inside. See how the process works with these photos (and video) from this year’s first banding at Saganashkee Slough.

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New Garden Blooms at Little Red Schoolhouse

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center has long been a favorite spot for both Cook County residents and out-of-town visitors to appreciate nature. But when the new visitor’s center was being constructed a few years ago, one of the highlights of the grounds had to be moved—the popular Multipurpose Garden.   This relocation provided a can’t-miss opportunity to incorporate public feedback and create an improved and expanded garden that better addressed the needs of visitors of all abilities.

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Win Free Camping: All Ages Coloring Contest

All ages! Complete a camping themed coloring page for a chance to camp for free September 25 to 27. Entries due by August 1.

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New Condos (with River Views) Help Bats Bounce Back

Each time a mosquito buzzes by your ear this summer, consider the plight of our local bats. In Cook County all bats are insect eaters—a single half-ounce little brown bat can eat half its body weight in insects each night. Nursing females can consume their full body weight or more.   Unfortunately, bat populations throughout the world have been hit hard by habitat loss, pesticide use and white nose syndrome. That’s why last month Friends of the Chicago River, in coordination with the Forest Preserves, installed two bat “condos” (also known as maternity colonies) along the North Branch of the Chicago River to help our local bats. The project is part of a grant from an anonymous donor that will allow Friends to install four Osprey nesting platforms, restore 50 acres of turtle nesting habitat and install a total of six bat colonies over the next three years on Forest Preserves land.  

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Explore the Preserves in New Ways This Summer

By President Toni Preckwinkle   Summer is finally upon us and there are a number of activities ready for you to enjoy in the Forest Preserves. In the May issue of the Forest Way, we prepared you for camping which kicked off at Camp Shabbona Woods on Memorial Day Weekend. And this month, we have exciting news about our trails to share.  

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Did You Know? Those Baby Rabbits Aren’t Abandoned

It’s something you’ve probably seen in your yard or local forest preserve—a litter of eastern cottontail young without an adult rabbit in sight. But what appears to be a group of orphaned baby rabbits is usually evidence of a successful strategy to protect them. To keep potential predators from discovering the nest, female cottontails typically only visit twice a day to nurse, often at night. When they aren’t with the young, they camouflage the shallow nest by covering it with grass and leaves.  

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“Films in the Forest” Series Delivers Outdoor Movies with a Nature Education

“Frozen,” “Little Shop of Horrors” headline 2015 Films in the Forest series   Spreading out a blanket in the grass and catching an outdoor flick is a popular summertime activity, and movie screens are popping up everywhere—including your local forest preserve. But our Films in the Forest series delivers more than your average outdoor movie.   From cult classics to modern blockbusters, films are chosen for their (not always obvious) nature themes. Each film is preceded by a variety of natural and cultural activities, displays and games related to that theme—appropriate for both children and adults.  

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Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County