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  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.

Letter to the Editor: Protecting land

Saturday, October 03, 2009
Chicago Tribune

In direct contrast to the spirit of this year's Burnham Plan Centennial, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is negotiating an agreement that would allow Hinsdale to control 26 acres of our preserves for its own purposes. The district has accomplished a great deal since it was established in 1914 to acquire and protect the "emerald necklace" of natural areas that Daniel Burnham envisioned around the county.

Its mission is to preserve these 68,000 acres for the public.

Hinsdale wants to transform part of our preserves at Bemis Woods South, west of the Tri-State Tollway, into a village park for its own large-scale recreation events, festivals and concerts.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County would both undermine its core mission and violate its own land-policy ordinance by allowing Hinsdale to control and manage the preserves for its conflicting park district and municipal purposes.

By carving out a piece of the preserves for Hinsdale, the district would set a dangerous precedent, opening up all protected land to those who would rather appropriate our preserves than plan and purchase land for the specific needs of their residents.

The goals of local governments should be to increase the overall amount of land for people to enjoy recreation and wildlife.

The district was created to safeguard our preserves. It is a coveted treasure to be enjoyed by residents and visitors to our county that should never be used as a land bank.

In the spirit of Daniel Burnham, Openlands sincerely hopes that the Board of the Forest Preserve District will honor this legacy and vote no to Hinsdale's proposal at its upcoming meeting on Wednesday.
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-- Gerald W. Adelmann, executive director, Openlands, Chicago

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