Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
WTTW News
by Jay Shefsky

 

 

 

Cook County has the largest forest preserve system in the country.

Since the early ‘90s, part of managing that land has involved burning parts of it from time to time. The fires are started on purpose and carefully managed. In fact, the kind of devastating fires that happen out West could not happen here.

“The trees we have are fire-dependent species and actually like the fact that the fire is here,” said John McCabe, who is in charge of the burn program for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. “Totally different than what happens out West.”

McCabe says the burns have a wide variety of benefits, including managing invasive plant species, promoting biological diversity and improving the health of the soil.

The burns take place in the spring and fall at sites throughout Cook County. On a recent spring day, “Chicago Tonight” was invited to work alongside one of the crews.

The day started long before we suited up, with final site selection, a weather check, and phone calls to alert local authorities about burn locations. There were 11 crews out that day, burning 24 sites. Each crew has five or six people.

We’ll go to a site close to their headquarters: Busse Woods. They say it’s an easy site, with just 7 acres of restored prairie. The ground is quite soggy, which makes walking through it awkward, but the plants are dry.

Elliot Medina is our burn boss.

And while they’ve burned this site – and many others – many times over, each site, and each day’s conditions, require a careful plan. Everyone has a job and there is a clear chain of command – a critical need in case anything gets out of hand. Some crew members are assigned to communicate with the public, and some – like me – will actually start the field on fire, using what they call a “drip torch.”

Monica Mueller is an ecologist with the forest preserves. She says the burn is especially helpful to native plant species.

“It really helps to stimulate them and cause them to produce more flowers and more seed,” she says. “Our prairie plants have deep root systems, they store all their energy underground and are able to come back quickly after a burn.”

In some places, crew members snuff out parts of the fire to keep it from spreading in the wrong direction. We’re using water in backpacks. There are also water tanker trucks standing by.

And finally, they start what is called the "head fire" at the upwind edge of the site – it will be contained by the wider breaks along the perimeter we’ve already created.

And soon, what’s left is a burnt and smoldering field. McCabe says the area will grow back in two to three weeks.

And sure enough, when we stopped back two weeks later, not only was it looking pretty green, a coyote wandered by. Perhaps, to offer its approval.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

More on this story

The spring burning season is now over, and Cook County had it’s best spring ever: nearly 10,000 acres burned at 169 sites.

If you’re interested in learning about volunteer opportunities with the burn crew, email: volunteer.fpd@cookcountil.gov.



Recent Headlines

Editorial: Taxation tough love from Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi
Friday, December 13, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County’s property tax burden is shifting in the suburbs: Businesses could be hit hard, but homeowners might catch a break
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

The other financial storm threatening to capsize Illinois' economy
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

County: Higher property taxes partly a hangover from foreclosure crisis
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Glencoe District 35 increases property tax levy by 4.45%
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Niles Township Property Tax Appeal Workshops Offered In Skokie
Friday, December 06, 2019
Patch

Want to pay your property taxes early? Here's how.
Wednesday, December 04, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Column: Twitter exchange with Cook County assessor sums up outrage and exodus: Tax hikes are paying for debt, not services.
Tuesday, December 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Niles taxing bodies, including schools, set to share $3.4 million surplus of TIF district funds
Tuesday, December 03, 2019
Pioneer Press

Unknown tale: Father George Clements’s role in Cook County court reform
Monday, December 02, 2019
Injustice Watch

State panel faces Dec. 31 deadline for property tax relief recommendations
Monday, December 02, 2019
Chicago Tribune

A drop in people, a $1 billion rise in property taxes
Monday, December 02, 2019
Daily Herald

In tents and under bridges, a new Cook County sheriff’s office program helps hard-to-reach drug users
Sunday, December 01, 2019
Chicago Tribune

No pay-to-play in the Cook County assessor's office
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Dorothy Brown’s office debuts upgrade to criminal court computers to wide ridicule
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Chicago Tribune

What's happening to Chicago's safety-net hospitals?
Monday, November 25, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Health CEO ousted by board
Friday, November 22, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County OKs suburban infrastructure funding
Friday, November 22, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County Health CEO out at the end of 2019 after hospital system opts against renewing his contract
Friday, November 22, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Board greenlights 2020 budget
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP