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Clear Air, Clean Water, and Wildlife Habitat Protection Referendum

Photo by Philip Walker.

Nature Wins: Referendum Passed

The Clear Air, Clean Water, and Wildlife Habitat Protection Referendum passed, thanks to Cook County voters, who overwhelmingly supported the referendum on the November 8 ballot.

On November 8, 2022, Cook County residents will be asked to vote on a referendum to bring more resources to the Forest Preserves. If approved, new funding would be used to expand and improve the benefits of the Forest Preserves, including the following:

  • Acquire and protect more natural open land for the enjoyment of generations to come.
  • Protect and restore wildlife habitat that is home to native plants and animals, some of which are threatened or endangered.
  • Increase programs and events for the public and schools, including more outreach to communities from every part of Cook County.
  • Expand and maintain trails, improve signage, and make amenities more energy efficient and accessible to all.
  • Resolve the Forest Preserves’ pension shortfall.
  • Address the deferred capital needs of the Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden.

Less than 1 percent of the property taxes that a homeowner pays go to the Forest Preserves. Across Cook County, the average homeowner pays $3 to $4 per month toward the Forest Preserves. This referendum is an opportunity for voters to decide if they want to make an investment in the Forest Preserves for the decades to come. If the referendum passes, the increase for an average homeowner would be less than $20 a year, or about a dollar and a half per month.

Since adopting our Next Century Conservation Plan in 2014, the Forest Preserves has made significant changes to how we work. We have implemented a broad range of best practices to invest our resources. Over the last decade, the Forest Preserves and its partners have won more than 100 awards.

If the referendum does pass, the Forest Preserves, Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden have an obligation to report back to the public. Each organization will develop an evaluation system to measure progress and present a public report documenting how funds have been used and the progress made to date.

Read the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Wildlife Habitat Protection Referendum overview to learn more.