Horizon Farm

Horizon Farm Temporarily Closed

Sep. 1, 2017: Horizon Farm is closed temporarily while the Forest Preserves works to secure the public’s legal right to access this property.

A field at Horizon Farm

In early May 2015, a judge approved the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s purchase of Horizon Farm, a 397-acre equestrian estate in Barrington Hills. The purchase was the Forest Preserves’ largest single acquisition since 1968.

 

View Site Map

 

Updates

December 2015: The Forest Preserves released an RFP to conduct market feasibility and preliminary market feasibility analysis for specific re-use concepts and any other concepts identified at Horizon Farm. The goal is to complete the research and have the findings by late spring 2016. Click to view the RFP (note: RFP expires January 14, 2016).

June 2015: A major portion of Horizon Farm is now open to the public for hiking, biking and riding on both paved and mowed trails. Parking for vehicles and horse trailers is available through the entrance on the west side of the site off Old Sutton Road. The public may also ride or walk in on the bridle trail on the east side of the site off of Trader’s Estate road. Trails at Horizon Farm connect to trails in the Spring Creek Preserve west of Old Sutton Road. Most of the southern portion of the site remains closed to the public while the Forest Preserves continues to assess the condition of buildings and explore potential uses of the property. No community meetings are planned at this time, but continue to check this web page for updates. Contact Kindy.Kruller@cookcountyil.gov with questions or feedback. View the site map here.

November/December 2014: The Community Meeting presentation from November 19, 2014 can be viewed here and the FAQ section below has been updated with some of the questions we received at the meeting.

October 2014: The next Community Meeting for Horizon Farm will be on Wednesday November 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM at Countryside Elementary School. More details and invitation to follow.

July 2014: The Forest Preserves will begin a full site assessment, as well as make any necessary improvements for access and safety. This process can take many months.

June 2014: The first community outreach meeting took place on June 18 at Barrington Countryside Elementary School in Barrington.

Very few undeveloped parcels of this size are available for acquisition in Cook County today. That’s why the Forest Preserves is especially excited to have acquired this unique property and to make it available as a resource for all residents.

 

Since 1914, the mission of the Forest Preserves has been to protect open space in Cook County for the benefit of all residents. This parcel of land was identified as highly desirable in our most recent land acquisition plan, for its large tracts of open space, wetlands, native bird habitat, and potential for recreational use, as well as its proximity to Spring Creek and Crabtree Preserves.

 

How and when will the public be able to access the site?

How and when will the public be able to access the site?

The site is now open to the public. We are currently engaged a planning process that will determine how the site looks and functions.

 

What are the Forest Preserves’ plans for the site’s future use?

What are the Forest Preserves’ plans for the site’s future use?

We anticipate that this large parcel will offer opportunities for hiking, horseback riding and simply enjoying nature. There will likely be opportunities to restore additional habitat for wildlife such as grassland birds.

 

The planning process will also take into account the site’s equestrian history, its existing infrastructure, and other equestrian facilities in the area to decide what additional role horses may play.

 

Public input is key to the future of Horizon Farm! Join us at a public meeting (see “Updates”) or send your thoughts via e-mail to kindy.kruller@cookcountyil.gov.

 

How much did this land cost?

How much did this land cost?

The purchase price of the land was approximately $14.5 million and came from Forest Preserves funding earmarked for land acquisition.

 

By purchasing a property that had been in foreclosure proceedings for many years, the Forest Preserves was able to get a great value for taxpayers. While land prices in the Barrington Hills area are currently $50,000 per acre and higher, we were able to purchase Horizon Farm for $36,500 per acre.

 

What does the property look like? What is on it?

What does the property look like? What is on it?

Horizon Farm is a serene landscape with open, rolling topography and dramatic vistas. Much of the site is agricultural—horse pasture and hay fields. In other parts of the property, natural areas include wetlands and small streams, as well as open habitat for grassland birds.

 

The property also contains residential buildings, multiple barns, extensive fencing and horse paddock areas, a half-mile horse track and support buildings.

 

Will the property be kept as open space?

Will the property be kept as open space?

Yes. The mission of the Forest Preserves is to protect, preserve, restore and restock natural lands for the enjoyment, recreation, learning and inspiration of the public. We purchased the property to ensure that a significant portion of it remains in an open and natural state for the public.

 

While a conservation easement already exists for the property, it allows for the construction of up to eight additional residential structures on the site. Now that the Forest Preserves owns the property, we can ensure that no such structures will be built.

 

The site is also a good candidate for habitat restoration to bring back native plant and animal communities. Our ecology staff is eager to begin assessing the site.

 

How are non-equestrian uses being considered?

How are non-equestrian uses being considered?

We are in the early planning stages for the site and have not finalized any uses or programming. We will first open the site for trail use including mowed and paved trails, both are multi-user trails.

 

What is the status of ownership and plans for use of land?

What is the status of ownership and plans for use of land?

The Forest Preserves has the deed to the land but there is still active litigation on the property. Initial plans are slated to open the site to the public in 2015 with access to trails.

 

Will you be working with the Riding Club of Barrington Hills to preserve the historic trail system?

Will you be working with the Riding Club of Barrington Hills to preserve the historic trail system?

Yes, we have met with the Riding Club along with other stakeholders from the community and we are looking at partnering on the trail system.

 

How are you protecting the land from invasive species and providing habitat?

How are you protecting the land from invasive species and providing habitat?

A majority of the site is in hay fields which creates an ideal habitat for grassland birds and keeps invasives out. The current plan is to keep those fields in hay mowing and determine long-term ecological plans in the future.

 

What is the role for bikers and other recreation enthusiasts?

What is the role for bikers and other recreation enthusiasts?

The Forest Preserves has done broad outreach to gather input for Horizon Farm. We want to engage diverse users of this site and would like to help in reaching even more people. We encourage interested parties to share this website with neighbors and colleagues to help provide feedback.

 

I have heard the Fox Hunt includes live animals for hunt. Is this true?

I have heard the Fox Hunt includes live animals for hunt. Is this true?

No, this is incorrect. The Fox Hunt is a long-standing tradition of the site and the Forest Preserves has worked closed with the Hunt Club. All hunts only use the scent of an animal and not a live animal hunt.

 

How will Horizon Farm fit into the Next Century Conservation Plan?

How will Horizon Farm fit into the Next Century Conservation Plan?

This ambitious plan lays out a set of bold actions to make Cook County a national leader in urban conservation. It highlights the preserves as one of the region’s greatest assets for the environment, the economy, and quality of life, but suggests that its fragile native ecosystems are at risk. The Forest Preserves has just started the implementation of the Next Century Conservation Plan and the focus on the plan is on county-wide improvements and not on specific sites. You can follow the plan here: http://www.nextcenturyconservationplan.org/

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