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President's Letter: Explore the Forest Preserves Throughout Spring

Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie, Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at Beaubien Woods for Chicago River Day 2021

I made a visit to Sagawau Environmental Learning Center last month, where I chatted with two Forest Preserves naturalists to learn about our spring ephemerals. Standing before a stunning display of brightly colored marsh marigold, I learned how important these brief bloomers are to the ecosystems where they grow. I also heard how spring wildflowers are a visual reminder of the impact of healthy, restored habitats.

This past weekend I went to Beaubien Woods on Chicago’s South Side to welcome and thank volunteers at the annual Chicago River Day Clean Up with our partner, Friends of the Chicago River. The efforts of our volunteers who remove trash, restore ecosystems to health and more are an invaluable part of the work to create the beautiful and welcoming vistas visitors experience while out in the Preserves.

One of my favorite aspects of serving as Cook County Board President during the past ten years is enjoying opportunities to get out and explore all the Preserves have to offer. From camping and taking peaceful walks to learning about cultural history and enjoying programs, I’ve discovered how many different ways you can get out and enjoy nature in the Preserves.

Since the start of the pandemic, having access to nature has been more important than ever before. Like for so many of us, the Forest Preserves have been a respite for myself and my family. Whether I’m at an event in my official capacity or as another resident of Cook County, I value these opportunities to immerse myself in the beauty of our natural lands.

As we continue into spring, when you’re at the Preserves, you may spot a variety of colorful native and migrating birds, or our native plants beginning to flourish. And as Covid-19 cases continue to decline, there are more and more opportunities to attend programs and join our volunteer efforts. I encourage everyone—whether you’ve been a visitor all year or are new to exploring the Preserves—to get out and enjoy our nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful.