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Press Release: Forest Preserves of Cook County Dedicates Milestone 25th Illinois Nature Preserve

Harms Woods Nature Preserve raises Forest Preserves total to 7,248 acres, the most of any local agency in the state

The Forest Preserves of Cook County will dedicate 169 acres of Harms Woods Forest Preserve as Harms Woods Nature Preserve—a milestone 25th Illinois Nature Preserve—during the October Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22. The site brings the Forest Preserves’ total Illinois Nature Preserves-designated protected land to 7,248 acres, with habitats that range from a rare peat bog to a remnant black soil prairie. The celebration includes five guided walks at FPCC Illinois Nature Preserves across Cook County.

Harms Woods Nature Preserve offers an incredibly varied spring woodland wildflower display, including wild geranium, trout lilies, blue cohosh and white trillium. These abundant wildflowers feed butterflies and birds from spring to fall. Visitors can hear frogs call from small ponds and see birds like great crested flycatchers, chestnut-sided warblers, and Cooper’s hawks—and maybe even glimpse a mink as it splashes into the North Branch of the Chicago River.

Located in unincorporated Cook County near Glenview, Harms Woods Nature Preserve is part of an extensive network of Forest Preserves that lie along the North Branch Trail System. Natural communities within the site include mesic woodland, mesic upland forest and floodplain forest. Nearly 400 different plant species have been recorded at Harms Woods Nature Preserve, including several that are endangered or threatened in the state.

“Protecting and restoring our natural lands is vital to ensuring these spaces are available for the public to enjoy for many generations to come,” says Forest Preserves Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Without the Illinois Nature Preserves System and the Forest Preserves of Cook County, many of Illinois’ plants, animals and ecosystems would be lost forever.”

Dedication of a site as an Illinois Nature Preserve provides the highest level of protection for land in Illinois, and is granted by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission to natural areas of exceptional ecological quality. These important natural areas represent the few remnants of the landscapes that evolved after the last ice age 13,000 years ago.

“The Illinois Nature Preserves in our system provide critical habitat for native plants, animals and migrating birds, and these are wonderful places to visit. Harms Woods Nature Preserve and the adjacent Harms Flatwoods Nature Preserve are examples of how these sites have benefited from years of dedicated volunteer stewardship, as well as concerted land management and restoration efforts by Forest Preserves staff, partners and contractors,” says Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall.

Within the Forest Preserves are also four designated Land and Water Reserves, another state designation which provides special protections to a natural area, though at a lower level than a nature preserve. Between Illinois Nature Preserves and Land and Water Reserves, the Forest Preserves of Cook County manages nearly 10,000 acres of protected land. The Forest Preserves’ Next Century Conservation Plan seeks to designate and register 20,000 acres with the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission.

Celebrating 25 Illinois Nature Preserves in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

In honor of the dedication of the Forest Preserves’ 25th nature preserve, the public is invited to attend guided walks at five of the Forest Preserves’ Illinois Nature Preserves.

Busse Forest Nature Preserve is one of the richest and most diverse natural areas in the Forest Preserves, supporting sensitive ferns, hop sedge and blue flag iris.
Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 • 9 am
Meet at Busse Forest-North – Grove #2, E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd

Harms Woods Nature Preserve, a mesic oak woodland, is bisected by the North Branch of the Chicago River and features stunning seasonal wildflower and fall foliage.
Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 • 9:30 am
Meet at Glenview Woods, located on Harms Rd, south of Glenview Rd in Glenview.

Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve, a rare remnant black soil prairie, is home to more than 360 native plant species, including the beautiful blooms of prairie dock, Indian plantain and prairie phlox.
Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 • 9 am
Meet at Wolf Road Prairie, on 31st St, west of Wolf Road

Cranberry Slough Nature Preserve, cradled by rolling upland woods, is one of a few peat bog ecosystems in the state, a habitat typically only found north of Illinois.
Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 • 12 pm
Meet at Country Lane Woods, 95th St, east of Flavin Rd/Willow Springs Rd.

Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh Nature Preserve—the only state-dedicated nature preserve within Chicago’s city limits—protects about 250 plant species, 2,500 insects and numerous bird species in a rolling dune-and-swale landscape.
Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 • 12 pm
Meet at Powderhorn Lake, S Brainard Ave, east of S Burnham Ave/S Ave O in Burnham.


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.