Blog

VIDEO: Fish Implanted with Tracking Chips Provide Valuable Data

Fish and chips often show up on restaurant menus together, but this pairing also works well for Forest Preserves biologists interested in the lives of our local fish.   In May, six fish from the Busse Reservoir in Elk Grove Village were surgically implanted with radio transmitter chips so biologists can better understand their movements and habitat usage. Staff from the Forest Preserves’ Wildlife and Fisheries sections and veterinary staff of the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) worked together to perform the surgical procedure on the fish—four muskies, a walleye and a largemouth bass—at McGinnis Field Station in Orland Park.  

Read More

Camping Update: Shabbona Woods Now Open, Support Camping Programs

Camp Shabbona Woods welcomed its first campers Memorial Day Weekend, marking the return of individual and family camping to the Forest Preserves. Stay tuned throughout June and July—we will be announcing the openings of Camp Bullfrog Lake, Camp Dan Beard, Camp Reinberg and Camp Sullivan. Click here for more information on camping, , or check out recent news coverage of the new campgrounds:

Read More

A Partner in Camping

As part of their commitment to get people active in the outdoors, Columbia Sportswear is providing gear and funds to support the Forest Preserves’ Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC), which trains group leaders to organize and lead camping and nature outings.

Read More

Did You Know? The forest preserves has a long tradition of camping

Almost since the forest preserves’ founding, people have camped there in some form or another. In the preserves’ early years, it was virtually anything goes. People camped wherever and whenever they pleased, and were even encouraged to do so, as described in this blog post by Natalie Bump Vena:   In 1922, The Chicago Defender reported that thousands of Chicagoans “saved rent” over the summer by living in “tent colonies” located in the forest preserves. In 1921, the District described these dwellings in romantic terms, writing, “there is a growing tendency on the part of many families to pitch week-end camps, while others remain during longer periods, some passing the entire summer under the shade of the great woods.”   That intensive use had negative effects on the land, though, and in the 1930s, the Forest Preserve District began to restrict camping to several established youth camps, including some operated by outside organizations.  

Read More

Why We Camp

This summer, as we head into the final stretch of our centennial celebration, we’re extremely proud to reintroduce camping to Cook County residents and visitors for the first time in more than half a century.   The first site to open, Camp Shabbona Woods in South Holland, will welcome campers beginning Memorial Day Weekend, Friday May 22, 2015. Additional sites in Willow Springs, Northbrook, Oak Forest and Palatine will open throughout the summer, offering tent campsites, RV campsites, small and large cabins for families, groups and couples of all ages and interests.

Read More

Did You Know? Woodcocks Dance in Cook County Preserves

Just after dusk in late March and early April, in prairie openings along the edge of the woods, there’s a fat, long-billed bird that’s in the mood for love.

Read More

Meet Our Skunk

Skunks are wild animals and an important part of our local ecosystem. They're best appreciated from a distance, but there is one good place to see this species up close: River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook. Watch our video, then come meet one of the forest preserves’ resident ambassadors in person!

Read More

Youth Raise $775 for Thatcher Woods

With any luck, Thatcher Woods in River Forest will soon support more spring wildflowers, oak saplings, butterflies, salamanders and woodpeckers thanks to Maeve Mascarenhas of Forest Park and Carl Faust of River Forest, both 11. The philanthropist pair wrote a check for $775 to the Forest Preserve Foundation for the purchase of equipment to be used for habitat restoration work at Thatcher, one of their favorite preserves.   The pair raised the money over the holiday season, selling 129 five-packs of handmade cards featuring their own nature photography to family, friends and community members. That’s a lot of cards! The Forest Preserves thanks Maeve and Carl for supporting the critical restoration of local native ecosystems.

Great Egret Recorded at Cape Canaveral

In March, a US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist captured a great egret at the Cape Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida within sight of the former space shuttle launch pad. The graceful egret, with a curved neck, long black legs and striking white plumage, bore a band that connected it directly back to the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Read More

Twelve Fascinating Facts from the Natural & Cultural Resources Master Plan

The Forest Preserves’ new Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan is the first formalized document to offer a strategy for prioritizing habitat restoration and archaeological preservation efforts across the preserves. The plan identifies which lands should be addressed first as we work toward the critical goal of restoring 30,000 acres over the next 25 years.

Read More

A New Plan for Restoration

by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle   Visionary leaders a century ago realized how important it was to set aside natural, open space to be enjoyed by everyone. Though our county has grown into one of the densest urban areas in the country, we are never more than a short trip away from nature. We are benefactors of what has grown into 69,000 acres of land containing some of the most diverse plant and wildlife species in North America.

Read More

Sign up for the Nature Express This Spring

Take a free shuttle to some of our most popular events. As part of the ongoing effort to connect more people to their preserves, the Forest Preserves are once again offering the free “Nature Express” shuttle service to some of this spring’s most popular events in the preserves. Space on the bus is free, but must be reserved in advance.

Read More

Crabtree’s Birdhouse Contest Now Open

Welcome to Crabtree Nature Center’s second annual birdhouse building contest!   The purpose of this contest is to highlight the need for nesting sites for birds and showcase your creativity. Houses will be built by registered participants, displayed throughout the summer and voted on by visitors.  Prizes will be awarded in September. View the contest flyer here.

Read More

Centennial History Series: Who Put the “Forest” in the Forest Preserves?

by Natalie Bump Vena   At the turn of the twentieth century, civic and political leaders dreamed of establishing a system of open land to serve as a natural retreat for Chicagoans. To begin realizing that vision, Chicago’s City Council hired architect Dwight Perkins to compile a report for an enlarged park system in 1903. Perkins in turn asked Landscape Architect Jens Jensen to recommend land to include in what they called an “outer belt park.” They published their report in 1904.   During archival research, I became interested in how and why Jensen and Perkins’ inclusive vision for an outer belt park composed of wetlands, prairies and forests became, by 1916, a Forest Preserve District with the stated purpose of acquiring and protecting natural forests, seemingly exclusively. That evolution was even more puzzling to me because Perkins and Jensen both had strong ties to Chicago’s Prairie School of Architecture made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright. While Jensen described all of Cook County’s landscapes in the 1904 report, he made clear the prairie’s ubiquity, writing: “The predominating character of the landscape around Chicago is that of prairie” (83).

Read More

Child Educators Get a NatureStart

Forest Preserves staff benefit from Brookfield Zoo's child development expertise   This February, Forest Preserves of Cook County naturalists and recreation staff spent much of their day on the floor playing with sticks.   As part of the NatureStart early childhood educational training program, Forest Preserves staff were asked to inhabit the world of a child and remember what it was like to explore natural objects in a playful way. The training is a unique collaboration between the Forest Preserves, the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo and two major Chicago-area early childhood education organizations, El Valor Children and Youth Service and Mary Crane Center. It brings staff from these groups together at three two-day sessions over 16 months, one at the zoo, one at an early childhood learning center and one in the forest preserves.

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