Please note that there are incremental fee increases for all picnic and events in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Cook County is the most ecologically diverse county in Illinois. The main mission of the Forest Preserves of Cook County is to restore and protect the native habitats of our region, while also providing a place for visitors to enjoy outdoor recreation and environmental education through our trails, nature centers, waterways, and more.
We are also very proud to host thousands of events like family reunions, parties, festivals and other large-scale gatherings at our picnic groves and pavilions each year. However, a recent analysis showed that the rates the Forest Preserves has been charging do not fully cover the cost of making these spaces available to our users. As an agency primarily funded with taxpayer money, we believe that the use of public spaces for private/exclusive use events should primarily be paid for by the using group and not the general tax payer.
The updated fees are intended to ensure that the Forest Preserves recover more of the costs associated with hosting these private events on our property – costs such as garbage removal, event clean-up, picnic shelter maintenance, and staff time. This is an important step in helping us remain financially sustainable while still offering an array of programs and services which benefit the general public, plants and wildlife and positively impact our overall quality of life.
Are there any price benefits for Cook County residents?
Yes. Non-Cook County residents will pay a 10 percent premium to base charges for Picnics, Indoor Facilities, Special Events and Athletic Events, Hourly Athletic Field League Usage, Model Airplane Events, Day Camp, Overflow Parking, and Filming and Photography.
Are there any discounts available?
Yes. In 2017, a 25 percent discount was introduced for base Picnic, Special Event and Athletic Event charges for events booked for Monday – Thursday (excluding holidays).
Additionally, non-profit organizations with proper documentation will continue to qualify for reduced rates of 50 percent on base charges including veteran discounts.