More than 50 years after first opening its doors, the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Crabtree Nature Center has undergone a $2 million transformation that will enhance visitors’ experience and reduce the building’s carbon footprint.
Cook County Board and Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle; Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall; Cook County Commissioners Kevin Morrison, Bill Lowry and Maggie Trevor; Illinois Department of Natural Resources Assistant Director John Rogner; and Crabtree Director Jeff Rapp spoke at a ribbon-cutting for the new Crabtree Nature Center.
“The Northwest region is a special part of Cook County. Crabtree Nature Center is home to more than a thousand acres of rolling, glacier-formed landscape. Thanks to this renovation and redesign, visitors today and for generations to come can explore new exhibits that focus on the unique landscape at Crabtree and experience a sense of what the land looked and felt like prior to European colonization and development,” President Preckwinkle said.
“Since opening its doors in the early 1970s, Crabtree Nature Center has been educating folks on Northwest Cook County’s unique natural and cultural assets. Thousands of local school children have visited this site to learn about prairie wildflowers, hear the distinctive sounds of calling frogs, and use the latest technology to listen for native bats. Prior to this project, the building faced a number of challenges; but with this investment, improvements have been made inside and out,” said General Superintendent Randall.
Funded in large part by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Public Museum Capital Grants program, the renovations at the nature center and grounds include:
- Crabtree Nature Center has a fully redesigned exhibit space with new interactive exhibits that explain the area’s diverse mix of habitat—including oak-hickory forest, wetlands and restored tallgrass prairie—and its impact on the cultural history, plants and animals of the area.
- A redesigned interior which allows for more flexibility and the ability to accommodate new varieties of programming including workshops and classes, hands-on activities and provide a meeting space for the local community.
- The building has received new windows and entrance doors, fire alarm system upgrades, and a full HVAC system replacement.
- The nature center is now all electric, using energy-efficient electric equipment. Design estimates target a 30 to 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- New identification, interpretive and wayfinding signage welcome visitors and help folks navigate the nature center grounds.
- ADA improvements have been made to ensure that people of all abilities can easily access the nature center and its many amenities.
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.