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The Forest Preserves Remain Open, Please Follow Social Distancing Guidelines

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Special to suffredin.org

A Message from the General Superintendent
Forest Preserves of Cook County

Trout Lily

The Forest Preserves Remain Open, Please Follow Social Distancing Guidelines

With new limits in Illinois on out-of-home activities as a measure against the spread of COVID-19, I want to let you know that the Forest Preserves of Cook County remain open as an option for fresh air, exercise and access to nature.

When Governor Pritzker announced the executive order last Friday, he was clear that the new guidelines still allow people to get out and run, hike or walk the dog. And Illinois’ executive order has specific provisions to keep outdoor recreation areas accessible to the public.

It makes sense. As health clubs and gyms close, trails and open fields remain a place to run, bike and walk. Simply being out in nature has been shown to lower stress, improve mental health and have positive effects on our physical health and wellness. That’s always been an important aspect of what the preserves offers all of us, and as we get through this uncertain time, it’s truer than ever.

At the Forest Preserves, we have made adjustments to protect against COVID-19. Not every site remains open. We have closed indoor locations and sites where it is not really possible to follow social distancing and other public health guidelines. And we have cancelled all public events, volunteer activities and permitted events through May 11.

We have made employee modifications, as well. Those who can are working from home. For the essential services we must continue in the field, including public safety, sanitation and essential building maintenance, we have established specific work rules to protect our employees from exposure to COVID-19, and we will stay abreast of best practices.

I ask you to follow new rules in the preserves too. That includes keeping apart from other people, washing your hands before and after your visit, and more. Before you arrive at the preserves, please review our full set of COVID-19 recommendations.

The health and safety of our visitors and staff is always our first priority in the Forest Preserves. To keep preserves open, it’s crucial that they are not a pathway to spreading this virus. We will continue to monitor the conditions at our sites and the recommendations of public health agencies. We will expand our COVID-19 closures if that becomes the best course of action—please keep up with the latest information on our website and via social media.

For more than 100 years, our mission has been to protect and preserve natural open space for the education and enjoyment of the public. During today’s trying circumstances, I hope that the Forest Preserves can be a resource for you and your family—to go look for wildlife, take out a canoe on the river, feel the sun on your face in a prairie, go fishing along a lakeshore, or whatever you find restores your body and spirit.

Be well and be safe,

Arnold Randall
General Superintendent
Forest Preserves of Cook County

Additional Resources

View Forest Preserves Closures & Precautions

For up-to-date information, please see our COVID-19 page for all novel coronavirus-related details, including information on permit and event cancellations, location closures and visitor precautions.

Report Large Crowds, Non-Emergency Situations
Call (708) 771-1000 to contact Forest Preserves Police to report large crowds at sites or non-emergency situations. Always call 911 in case of an emergency.

Sign up for Cook County COVID-19 Text Alerts
Text AlertCook to 888-777 on your mobile device to opt-in and receive the latest COVID-19 alerts and information from the new AlertCook Cook County public health and safety messaging service.

General Questions about COVID-19 in Cook County?
Call (708) 633-3319 or email ccdph.COVID19@cookcountyhhs.org. The hotline and email address are staffed between 9 am and 4 pm, Monday – Friday.



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