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Forest Preserves of Cook County to get expertise, guidance from new Policy Council

Jul 22, 2014

President Toni Preckwinkle introduces ordinance


(Chicago – July 22, 2014) Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle introduced an ordinance today that will create a Conservation and Policy Council to provide continuous conservation leadership and expertise to the President and Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.


In February of this year, the President and Board of Commissioners adopted the Next Century Conservation Plan to guide the Forest Preserves for the next 100 years. This ambitious Plan sets an agenda for restoring nature to health; mobilizing, inspiring and welcoming people; and reinforcing the economic benefits of nature conservation. One of the goals of the Plan is to ensure that “visionary conservation leaders will safeguard, expand and bring increased resources to the Forest Preserves.” It also sets a primary objective to “provide enduring, focused conservation leadership and increased accountability.”


The Plan calls for creation of a Forest Preserves Conservation and Policy Council that consists of experts and leaders who reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of Cook County and that have expertise in the fields that impact the Forest Preserves’ mission, services and policies. These include:  conservation, ecology, education, cultural resources, management, finance, tourism, public policy, planning, outdoor recreation, health, volunteers, and government.


The main charge of the Council will be to advise the President, Board of Commissioners and General Superintendent on specific steps to implement the Next Century Conservation Plan’s vision of a vibrant, ecologically healthy and welcoming forest preserves system that contributes to the quality of life and prosperity of Cook County over the long term.


In addition, the Council will be responsible for developing and annually updating a strategic plan to operationalize the Next Century Conservation Plan, as well as reviewing and making recommendations for the annual budget, conservation policies and practices, and long-term strategic issues.


“The residents of Cook County rely on the Forest Preserves to preserve and enhance these precious natural resources, but as I often say, government can’t do it alone,” said President Preckwinkle. “This volunteer Council will help us ensure that the Forest Preserves continue to thrive throughout their second century.”


The voluntary Council will be launched with appointments by the President and ratified by the Board of Commissioners. The Council will consist of 11 members, including one chairperson and one ex-officio, whose terms will be staggered.


“Our region has a great depth of talent and knowledge on environmental issues and I’m pleased we can tap that expertise to help implement our Next Century Conservation Plan,” said Commissioner Larry Suffredin.


“The Next Century Conservation Plan is both visionary and practical,” said Jerry Adelmann, President and CEO of Openlands.  “This step toward implementing one of the Plan’s central governance recommendations means that the Forest Preserves will have the expertise needed to ensure that nature will thrive for future generations.”


The ordinance is next expected to go to the Committee on Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations for public review and then presented for a vote of the Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners in September.

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