Over the past year, the Forest Preserves of Cook County has been busy advancing its mission. From protecting the plants and animals that thrive in the wild, to offering ways for the public to create their own adventure in the Forest Preserves, there have been a number of significant contributions throughout the County. I’d like to share and reflect back on a couple of the Forest Preserves successes in 2017.
This year, the Forest Preserves dedicated Harms Flatwoods as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as well as Jens Jensen Grassland and Woodland and Bobolink Meadow as Illinois Land and Water Reserves. These designations provide some of the highest levels of protection for open land in the state. The designations also recognize the incredible work that has gone into restoring and preserving these spaces. Dedicated volunteerism and strong partnerships have helped the Forest Preserves work towards an ambitious goal of increasing the acreage of high-quality open land in Cook County.
2018 also marked the release of “Flora of the Chicago Region: A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis,” an encyclopedic listing of the region’s plant communities which advances the scientific understanding of the Forest Preserves’ rich biodiversity. The book was co-authored by Forest Preserves Wildlife Biologist Laura Rericha-Anchor and Dr. Gerould Wilhelm, director of research at The Conservation Research Institute.
The Forest Preserves also continued working to connect more people to nature. Two new visitor centers were opened in 2017: a facility at Dan Ryan Woods where visitors can purchase permits, as well as a new facility at Rolling Knolls, which also offers a disc golf course. Additionally, the popular North Branch Bike Trail extension was completed, further opening up the Forest Preserves to thousands of Chicago residents.
These are just a few of the many ways the Forest Preserves of Cook County has been working hard to protect and preserve nature, as well as 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!
President, Forest Preserves of Cook County