Over the past several years, the Forest Preserves has received a number of awards for high-quality work across its departments. Three recent awards point toward a promising trend, and are particularly worth talking about.
In early September, the Friends of the Forest Preserves honored us with one of its two inaugural Crystal Leaf Awards, “presented to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and champions a deep concern over the environment.” This award was clearly more a reflection of the collective work of the Forest Preserves staff than my own actions. It was also a reflection of our dedication to core conservation principles.
In late September, the Metropolitan Planning Council awarded the Forest Preserves its esteemed Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning, in recognition of our Next Century Conservation Plan. They said the plan was “truly visionary, not only in scope and scale, but also in process. With its emphasis on community engagement and outreach, and its commitment to connecting residents with the natural world, it truly improves and expands our region’s interaction with open space.” Our centennial demands a vision of this scale to propel us into a successful second century.
And finally, earlier this summer the Urban Land Institute awarded the Forest Preserves its Vision Award for our Camping Master Plan, saying that the winners of the award exemplified “community building, sustainability, dynamic neighborhoods, public/private partnerships and how our built environment can foster dynamic relationships, and innovative problem solving.”
These awards are outward signs of this administration and staff’s commitment to not only improving the preserves, but connecting them to the community and unleashing their potential to improve the quality of life in this region.
We hope that these and other groups, who serve a valuable role as watchdogs and standard-setters, will be inspired to issue many more awards in the coming years as we deliver on our ambitious plans.