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President's Letter: Healthy Preserves Important to Plants, Animals and People

The Forest Preserves of Cook County benefits our communities, our region and our planet.

Our 70,000 acres protect native flora and fauna while also ensuring people can experience the beauty of northeastern Illinois’ native habitats. Committing to restoring these lands to health achieves both these goals. It also benefits both current residents and future generations to come.

Restored lands provide necessary habitat for a variety of species including migrating and nesting birds, pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies, and hundreds of plants found here in Cook County. And while healthy preserves provide innumerable benefits to nature, they are equally as important to people.

Healthy and welcoming preserves offer opportunities for exercise, de-stressing, and connecting with the natural world around us—all of which offer physical, mental and emotional benefits. As important, the lands of the Forest Preserves keep people healthy by protecting clean drinking water and filtering out pollutants from the air we breathe.

One of the main tools the Forest Preserves uses to keep our natural lands healthy is prescribed burning. Each spring and fall, burn crews head out to burn savannas, prairies and woodlands that have been identified as ready to benefit from this practice. Check out the article in this issue that takes a deeper look at what the Forest Preserves’ burn crews do, and learn why prescribed fire is such a vital tool.

Spring migration is in full swing this month, and there are plenty of birding opportunities throughout Cook County. Also in this issue is information on upcoming birding events, as well as news about a new bird conservation guide. Check out one of the family-friendly events or programs at a Forest Preserves’ nature center, or head out on a guided bird hike.

We hope to see you in the Preserves!

Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County