Numbers can only tell part of a story. But for 2018, adding up some of the numbers from the Forest Preserves of Cook County gives an impressive snapshot of the many ways the Forest Preserves have engaged with residents and advanced our mission.
This year, more than 11,000 volunteers were involved in restoration work in preserves throughout Cook County. Our volunteers are integral in helping remove invasive species, clean up rivers and streams, and make sites safer and more inviting through programs like Trail Watch. I’m particularly proud of the programs that allowed nearly 300 participants—from youth to adults—to learn about conservation while employed in a half dozen Conservation Corps programs.
So far in 2018, nearly 800,000 people have attended family picnics, weddings, reunions, athletic matches and other special events in the Forest Preserves’ indoor and outdoor facilities. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 campers made memories enjoying a night under the stars at one of our five campsites.
This year the Forest Preserves also launched new amenities to engage residents. A new dockless bike rental pilot program added 500 bikes at 46 sites throughout the county. The Preserves completed construction of 1.3 miles of the Cal-Sag Trail, including a bridge over the Little Calumet River. A new boat rental operation at Saganashkee Slough opened in the summer. The Forest Preserves created and implemented the Greater Maywood Paddling Program, which trains group leaders on how to use the kayaks that can be loaned out and how to lead a group of kayakers, too.
The Forest Preserves’ nearly 70,000 acres are woven into the fabric of our County, as well as our lives. They serve as places for communities to come together, get healthier or enjoy a moment of peacefulness. Throughout Cook County, the Forest Preserves’ woodlands, wetlands, prairies and savannas enable thousands of plant and animal species to thrive in the wild. Across our Preserves, 13,000 acres of land are in restoration or active maintenance.
These are just a few of the many ways the Forest Preserves of Cook County has been working hard to provide incredible opportunities for Cook County residents to relax, explore and learn about our local ecosystems. We look forward to continuing these efforts in the years to come.
We hope to see you in the Preserves!
Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County