Blog

Did You Know?

The “shamrock” is alive and well in Cook County.   If you’ve so much as opened your eyes in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be familiar with the shamrock, that iconic bright green trio of leaflets that symbolizes the Irish celebration. It’s said that St. Patrick used the plant to illustrate the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity back in the 5th century.

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FOREST PRESERVE NATURE BULLETINS

This window into the preserves of yesteryear offers great winter reading   For some twenty years—between 1945 and 1964—the Forest Preserve District issued weekly bulletins about the natural history of Cook County. Written by staff, the bulletins went out to classrooms across the county. Revised editions were reissued until 1980. Today they offer a fascinating window into Cook County nature and the Forest Preserves of yesteryear.

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TRAIL WATCH

Police seeking volunteers to make preserves even more welcoming   We need your help! The Forest Preserves is seeking new volunteers to join our Trail Watch program. Become additional eyes and ears for our Law Enforcement Department, and help us keep the preserves safe, healthy and attractive for all our users. Just by going out and enjoying the forest preserves, you can be a visible presence to help make our preserves even more welcoming.

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A BOLD VISION FOR THE NEXT CENTURY

by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle   This spring, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is heralding a new beginning. As part of our centennial celebration, a special commission of civic leaders presented the Forest Preserves with a renewed vision for the future: the Next Century Conservation Plan.

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Volunteer Spotlight

Winter Workdays   Most people assume that when the temperature drops and the snow falls, habitat restoration volunteers pack up their tools and stay home on the couch, binging on episodes of Downton Abbey and House of Cards while waiting for spring. But that’s not the case.   Winter is actually a very busy time for habitat restoration. Volunteers are out in force, focused on cutting invasive brush that’s poised to crowd out the native plant community when it warms up again.

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Try This!

Snowshoeing   Cultures living in cold climates have relied on snowshoes for millennia. This oversized footwear can mean the difference between slogging through drifts up to your knees and floating above the fray, one with the elements.   This snowy winter we’ve been having is the perfect opportunity to try out snowshoes yourself. Today’s models aren’t your grandpa’s snowshoes. You can borrow a pair for free at the following nature centers, then head off on the nature center trails for a day of fun. Try it today!

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Did You Know?

  Snow Fleas: Unexpected life in the frozen forest by Brian Winters   Signs of life in the winter woods are easy to find. Squirrels scurry ceaselessly and birds mob the feeders. Tracks in the snow reveal mammals large and small. But while winter halts the visible activity of most insects and spiders, visit your local preserve on a sunny winter day and you may encounter the hardy little snow flea.   Look around the bases of trees, often where the snow has begun to melt. If you see what looks like pepper sprinkled all over the snow, look more closely—you may just be looking at snow fleas.

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Your Wild Animal Stories

We asked for your best sightings, and here’s what you shared   What is the most amazing, unusual or memorable thing you’ve ever witnessed a wild animal do in the forest preserves?  We asked Forest Preserve staff and our Facebook community, and you had some wild stories, mostly about birds and mammals, and many involving animals caught in the act of eating one another. A lot of stories came from our naturalists, who spend the better part of each day in the preserves.   What’s clear is that there’s a lot of cool stuff happening out there, and you can see it if you’re observant and lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

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MINDMIXER: ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS

Tell us how we can improve organized activities in the preserves   Have you checked out the Forest Preserves’ MindMixer tool yet? More than 1,000 people have signed up to propose ideas, and we are listening! In the month of January we’ll be asking you how we can improve our nature center experience, group activities and special events.

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TOMORROW IS PERMIT OPENING DAY

Sign up for ActiveNet to get a jump on the New Year   Tomorrow, January 2, the doors of the Permits office at Forest Preserves General Headquarters (536 N. Harlem Avenue in River Forest) swing open from 8 am to 4 pm to those eager to secure their favorite picnic spot for 2014.

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TRY THIS!

Hike for Fitness   Work off those holiday goodies in the Forest Preserves! Some of our nature centers offer group fitness hikes, during which naturalists resist the urge to stop and identify birds and instead maintain a brisk pace across woods and prairie.

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50 WAYS TO LEAVE THE HOUSE

The Forest Preserves are alive with fun activities all winter long, if you’re willing to brave a little cold   You hardy souls who love to throw on extra layers and go on winter adventures already know that the Forest Preserves, decked out in glittering snow and ice, are quieter and more peaceful in winter than at any other time of year—and you’ve got them mostly to yourself.

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NEW YEAR’S WISHES

by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle   I'd like to wish a Happy New Year to all of the visitors and supporters of the Forest Preserves of Cook County!

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Get Your 2014 Wall Calendar!

The Forest Preserves of Cook County 2014 Wall Calendar will soon be available, and it's gorgeous, if we do say so ourselves. This great stocking stuffer has everything: ducks, elk, wildflowers, redbelly snakes, snowscapes, birdwatchers and more.   Get yours now in downtown Chicago in the lobbies of the Cook County Administration Building, the Daley Center and the George Dunne Office Building. They will also be available after December 14 at all six of our nature centers.

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