2017 Picnic Permit Fee Increase FAQ



Please note that there are new fees and attendance levels for picnic permits in 2017.


Cook County is the most ecologically diverse county in Illinois. The main mission of the Forest Preserves of Cook County is to restore and protect the native habitats of our region, while also providing a place for visitors to enjoy outdoor recreation and environmental education through our trails, nature centers, waterways, and more.


We are also very proud to host thousands of permitted events like family reunions, parties, festivals and other large-scale gatherings at our picnic groves and pavilions each year. However, a recent analysis showed that the rates the Forest Preserves has been charging do not fully cover the cost of making these spaces available to our users. As an agency primarily funded with taxpayer money, we believe that the use of public spaces for private/exclusive use events should primarily be paid for by the using group and not the general tax payer.


The updated 2017 fees are intended to ensure that the Forest Preserves recover more of the costs associated with hosting these private events on our property – costs such as garbage removal, event clean-up, picnic shelter maintenance, and permit staff time. This is an important step in helping us remain financially sustainable while still offering an array of programs and services which benefit the general public, plants and wildlife and positively impact our overall quality of life.


Click here for the 2017 picnic fee schedule.




Are there any new special event or rate categories?


Yes. The Forest Preserves requires permits for groups of 25 or more people. Permit fees were previously based on attendance levels from 25-99 and 100-399. New permit categories with separate permit fee prices are based on an attendance of 100 – 200 and 201 – 399.


Are there any other new applicable fees for permitted events?


We’ve removed the $10 application fee for basic picnic permits. A $25 application fee will be applied for Special Events, Athletic and Indoor Facilities rentals. Application fees support administrative departmental costs.


Are there any permit price benefits for Cook County residents?


Yes. Non-Cook County residents will pay a 10 percent premium to base permit charges for Picnics, Indoor Facilities, Special Events and Athletic Events, Hourly Athletic Field League Usage, Model Airplane Events, Day Camp, Overflow Parking, and Filming and Photography.


Are there any permit discounts available?


Yes. In 2017, a 25 percent discount is being introduced for base Picnic, Special Event and Athletic Event charges for permitted events booked for Monday – Thursday (excluding holidays).


Will nonprofit organizations continue to receive a discount?


Yes. Non-profit organizations with proper documentation will continue to qualify for reduced rates of 50 percent on base permit charges including veteran discounts.


Will there be any new amenities available to permit holders?


Yes. The Forest Preserves will now offer the option of exclusive portable toilet rentals for events through its existing port-o-let contract. This is an added feature for our users, who will still be able to get their own port-o-lets elsewhere if they choose.

  • 1-7 basic units: $200 per unit
  • 8 or more basic units: $150 per unit
  • ADA units: $250
Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County