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The Forest Way
Newsletter of the Cook County Forest Preserve District

Monday, February 08, 2021
Special to
by Cook County Forest Preserve

The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

February 2021

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), Photo by: Fidencio Marbella
Great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) have powerful talons capable of breaking the spine of their prey, allowing them to hunt birds and mammals larger than themselves.

In this Issue:

  • President's Letter
  • Spotlight on Southeast Cook
  • Forts in the Forest Preserves
  • Latest News: Chicago Wilderness Event, Valentine's Day in the Preserves, IAPD Awards, Wild Things Conference
  • February Events
  • Participate in Community Science

Restoring Our Lands Now for the Future

From President Toni Preckwinkle

It might seem that with winter here, not much is happening for an organization like the Forest Preserves. After all, colder temperatures entice many more residents to stay bundled up indoors. But a lot of important restoration work occurs during these fallow winter months.

Ecological restoration is an ongoing, year-round process. Work done in winter, when the ground is frozen—like using heavy machinery to remove invasive species—sets us up for greater success during spring, summer and fall. To return landscapes to health, the Forest Preserves uses scientific knowledge and best practices to create ecosystems filled with a diversity of native plants and animals.

Each year, as we steadily and methodically work to restore the Forest Preserves, we’re ensuring that future generations can enjoy the tremendous asset that is our nearly 70,000 acres of land.

Guided by its Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan, the Forest Preserves has made efficient and effective investments in restoration. Despite financial strain only further amplified by the ongoing pandemic, restoration work has remained a clear priority for the Forest Preserves, supported in part by strategic partnerships and grant funding.

Visitors need only visit a site like Deer Grove in Palatine or Powderhorn Lake in Burnham to see how magnificent restored natural lands look and feel. They are welcoming, they benefit our community, and they provide a haven for our native plants and animals to thrive.

Want to join us in our efforts? Visit our Volunteer Page to learn about volunteer opportunities throughout the year.

People gathering around waterbody to fish and bird

Spotlight on Southeast Cook

Adding new Forest Preserves to a community can bring improved health for residents, a place to enjoy the educational, recreational and scenic benefits of natural lands; a home for native flora and fauna; mitigation against the effects of climate change; and economic development opportunities. Last month, the Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners recognized two awards for our Southeast Cook County Land Acquisition Plan, an ambitious blueprint to expand these benefits in the Southeast.

Read more
Photo of a fort built in the forest preserves

Forts Seem Fun, But They Can Really Harm Forest Friends

With so many people enjoying time in the Forest Preserves during the pandemic, our staff has been finding more and more forts and other structures among the trees. Stacking up logs and sticks for a lean-to or a mini-log cabin seems like a fun activity with kids or friends. But you might be surprised to learn how troublesome these structures can be.

Learn more

Latest News

Dr. Carolyn Finney Helps Chicago Wilderness Define a Green Vision

Join a free livestreamed conversation with Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.” On Wednesday, February 17, Dr. Finney will help the Chicago Wilderness community define a renewed Green Vision of conservation to carry us into the future. With all our region’s communities and identities represented, together we can support resilient natural ecosystems and improve quality of life for all. Bring your voice to the conversation.
Register today

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Forest Preserves

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Cook County residents may be contemplating how to plan a special day while following public health guidelines. From walks in the woods to learning about the mating habits of native wildlife, there are plenty of ways to spend time with loved ones in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
Read more

Forest Preserves Receives Three Illinois Association of Park Districts Best of the Best Awards

During IAPD’s virtual Best of the Best ceremony in November, three awards were presented to projects and people connected to the Forest Preserves.
  • Project Onward, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods and the Forest Preserves received the Arts in the Park award for their collaboration on Fresh Air, a virtual art exhibition benefitting Project Onward.
  • June Webb, a volunteer steward at Kickapoo and Whistler Woods, received the Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Award for her dedication and passion as a volunteer in the Calumet region.
  • And Hoffman Estates Park District, the Village of Hoffman Estates and the Forest Preserves received the Intergovernmental Cooperation Award for their partnership to create a trail segment that connects the Village of Hoffman Estates to the Forest Preserves’ Poplar Creek trail system.
Read more

Attend the 2021 Wild Things Conference

The 2021 virtual nature and conservation conference features workshops and sessions from regional and national experts—plus meet & greets, video content, and exhibitors—with something for everyone! Whether you want to learn about the plants and animals that call our region home or hear about new ecological research, whether you want to know where or how to get involved in conservation or meet other people passionate about nature, this is your event!
Learn more
Looking north from Willow Road Bridge the month the lagoon project began, July 1933.

February Events

Join our programming teams and naturalists for fun, educational virtual offerings via Zoom and Facebook Live in February, including workshops on creative reuse and nature art, presentations on forest preserve history and native animals, and more. There are also limited in-person events available, which require attendees to register in advance. Check out our online events calendar for a full schedule.

View the Schedule
Community scientists observe plants

Participate in Community Science

Throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County, community scientists of all ages help gather valuable information used by researchers. From monitoring birds and butterflies to listening for the calls of frogs and documenting endangered plants, there are myriad ways for Cook County residents to get involved!

Through community science programs, people share and contribute vital information about the natural world around them. This information has a lot of positive impacts; it can help document the changes that occur in nature, protect endangered species and even help address local and global environmental issues.

Anyone can become a community scientist. Whether they’re just beginning or already have some experience in nature, community scientists will receive training to help them use the same research protocols used by professional researchers and data scientists. The Forest Preserves and our partners host numerous trainings on a variety of programs throughout the year, and Forest Preserves staff are always on hand for additional support.

Interested in getting started right away? The Forest Preserves and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are hosting several Calling Frog Survey training workshops this month for both beginner and experienced community scientists. During the workshops, attendees will learn the calls of 13 local frog and toad species, identify survey sites, and discuss the monitoring protocol.

Additional training opportunities will be posted soon for the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network/Illinois Odonate Survey, Community Science in the Calumet Region, Plants of Concern, and the Singing Insects Monitoring Program. Learn more about these community science programs and watch for upcoming training opportunities on our Volunteer Monitoring Page.

Get Involved
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