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President's Letter: Experience the Health Benefits of the Forest Preserves Throughout Winter

By February, Cook County residents have already experienced months of cold weather. The falling snow and dropping temperatures may have you feeling “cabin fever.” The cure? Plan a trip out into the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Throughout winter, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the Forest Preserves and get a little healthier, too. Within Cook County’s nearly 70,000 acres of natural lands, you can change up your winter exercise routine while enjoying the mental health benefits of being out in a peaceful landscape.

When there is ample snow, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great options of exploring the preserves. A run or a casual hike along a trail offers fresh air, exercise and a chance to relax. Or join the workout enthusiasts who use the Swallow Cliff limestone stairs to get their heart pumping.

Although it may not seem like it yet, spring and summer are just around the corner. Read in this issue about how group leaders can plan ahead and learn how to lead kayaking excursions. Through the Forest Preserves’ Greater Maywood Paddling Program, individuals are trained on kayaking, use and care of kayaking gear, and how to lead a trip on the Des Plaines River.

This issue also covers efforts to protect oak habitat through the Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan. Oak trees support a vast number of insect and animal species, while also providing many benefits to other plants. The Forest Preserves is proud to work with partners to help private landowners protect and support their oak trees.

We hope to see you in the preserves!

Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County