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President's Letter: Preserving Resources at a New Level

Last month, we launched a major effort to ensure the continued health and diversity of the natural heritage and archaeological resources of our Forest Preserves. When it’s completed in December 2014, the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan will provide sophisticated and comprehensive guidance to our land management.

The project aims to assemble into one database critical ecological and archaeological data on the Forest Preserves’ holdings, including previously unknown or inaccessible data. Our ecologists and planners will be able to use the map-based database to gain greater insights into the land’s history and better identify trends. The plan and accompanying database will be living documents, and we’ll continue to update them regularly.

This plan will create a strategic, science-based decision-making system to help ecologists prioritize work, such as habitat restoration and prescribed burns. It will direct development and use of preserve lands to minimize impacts. It will also provide opportunities for you, the Forest Preserves users, to access selected non-sensitive data.

For this important project, we’re pleased to bring on board the Prairie Research Institute. This partnership will give the Forest Preserves access to more than 600 scientists and technicians who have expansive knowledge of Illinois resources.

The launch of the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan underscores our commitment to conserving the flora, fauna and historical sites in our care. As we celebrate our Centennial, we believe this plan will provide critical tools for the wise stewardship of the Forest Preserves throughout the next century.

Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County