Descendants of Founders Attend
On February 11, 2015, 100 years to the day after its inaugural meeting, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board of Commissioners marked the once in a lifetime occasion of its centennial.
“We recognize the dedication and passion of those who created the Forest Preserves we enjoy today, as well as the tens of thousands of people who have worked to protect and improve them over the last century,” said Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle. “This kind of achievement is only possible when people dedicate themselves to a bold and democratic vision of an improved community for all, and to the idea that the preservation of nature is essential for this region to thrive.”
Members of the public and invited guests were greeted by naturalists with a small screech owl and a non-venomous snake. Panels in the fifth floor elevator lobby displayed a timeline of Forest Preserves history, as well as historic photos from the early 1900s through the present. Guests were encouraged to add their names to a poster for inclusion in a time capsule. Outreach staff were on hand to discuss current program offerings and give out commemorative posters and pins. They also handed out copies of the new “Explore the Forest” children’s activity book, which will be available at the Forest Preserves’ permits office in River Forest, at information and health fairs and at other events.
The meeting recognized the contributions of the past, including remarks from President Preckwinkle and General Superintendent Arnold Randall, as well as a resolution honoring the founders of the Forest Preserves, landscape architect Jens Jensen and Prairie School architect Dwight H. Perkins. Several descendants of the founders and their families attended the meeting, including L. Bradford Perkins, Eleanor Grumman, Cornelia Grumman, Jim Warren, David Grumman, Bruce Johnson and Marnie Wirtz.
“I am sure that my grandfather would be very pleased with the efforts to expand the preserves and to restore many of the existing acres,” said Perkins’ grandson, Dwight H. Perkins II. “I don’t believe he felt that his specific ideas and plans for them should be written in stone, and the direction in which they are evolving seems to me to be very positive.”
Former employees and current conservation partners and volunteers attended the meeting as well.
“Today’s preserves have grown to more than 69,000 acres, 11 percent of the county footprint,” said President Preckwinkle. “But we cannot take this inheritance for granted. The preserves are threatened by invasive species, climate change and other challenges. We must work harder than ever to ensure that we preserve healthy habitat for our native plant and animal communities. And we must ensure that all residents of Cook County, from all backgrounds, know about and have access to the preserves.”
“Thanks to the leadership of General Superintendent Arnold Randall, my administration has made significant progress in positioning the Forest Preserves for its second century.”
Key administration accomplishments:
- Invested millions in habitat restoration, increasing the number of crews on the ground and vastly improving the capacity to preserve wild plant and animal communities.
- Created hundreds of new activity opportunities to draw new visitors to the preserves, including archery, paddling and photography series.
- Acquired 397-acre Horizon Farms property in Barrington Hills.
- Commissioned the ambitious Next Century Conservation Plan, with implementation underway.
- Increased organizational efficiency with a comprehensive desk audit.
- Overhauled hiring process, becoming only the second local government agency to be released from Shakman oversight.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.