Purchase expands holdings near key areas
The Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) today approved the request to purchase a163-acre parcel of land in south suburban Palos Park, bringing the total acreage of the FPCC to 69,313. The property, located at 12375 McCarthy Road, is a part of the Holy Family Villa subdivision at the intersection of Will-Cook Road and McCarthy Road.
“This is an important acquisition for the Forest Preserves,” said Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. “Protecting open land and making sure green space is available for native plants and wildlife to thrive is at the core of our mission. This new piece of property will expand our footprint in the south suburbs and contribute to the overall quality of life in the area for residents.”
Cook County is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. While the Forest Preserves comprise 11 percent of the county, there is a need for expanding that footprint. One of the goals of the Next Century Conservation Plan commissioned by President Preckwinkle is to expand the Forest Preserves to 90,000 acres over the next 25 years.
Purchasing parcels in proximity to other high quality and existing preserves is also recommended in the FPCC’s recently released Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan.
“This parcel was identified by our staff because of its strategic location,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the FPCC. “From an ecological standpoint adding land near existing preserves has several benefits. Acquiring land prevents future development which can cause habitat fragmentation which separates an ecosystem and disrupts the species therein.”
This particular purchase borders the Cap Sauers Nature Preserve; one of the FPCC’s largest natural areas and contains one of the larger mature oak woodlands not currently in FPCC holdings, as well as a diverse habitat mixture of wetland, lake and open field. Expanding land in this area presents opportunities for better connectivity of greenways and trails. Defining and filling in gaps in current land holdings was identified as a key priority in the FPCC’s 2012 Land Acquisition Plan.
Today’s board approval grants the FPCC the authority to purchase the property from the Catholic Bishop of Chicago for $5 million. The FPCC has a Real Estate Acquisition Fund which is appropriated with General Operating Funds. In 2012, the sale of General Obligation Bonds resulted in an additional $27 million earmarked for Land Acquisition.
The last major land acquisition by the Forest Preserves was the 2014 acquisition of the nearly 400 acre Horizon Farms in Barrington Hills. Since 2011, under the leadership of President Preckwinkle, the Forest Preserves have acquired 873 acres of land.
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.