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The Forest Way Newsletter

Monday, January 11, 2021
Special to

The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

December 2020

Busse Woods Shoreline Covered in Snow

Photo of the Month: Busse Woods By Maria Sacha, November 2018
Busse Woods includes ancient upland forests, one of the largest fishing and boating waters in Cook County, nearly 13 miles of paved trail, an elk pasture and much more--making it one of the best-used natural areas in Illinois.

In this Issue:
- President’s Letter
- Sidelined in Spring, Prescribed Burns Back This Fall
- Forest Preserves Police Welcome Two New Canine Officers
- Latest News: NCCP: The First Five Years; Commit to Day of Service in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Renew & Rejuvenate This Winter in the Forest Preserves; Learn About Conservation Corps Programs During Lunch & Learn; Forest Preserve Foundation Looks Ahead to Restoration Work in 2021
- Events

2021 is Full of Potential

From President Toni Preckwinkle

With the start of a new year comes an increased feeling of abundant possibility. At the Forest Preserves of Cook County, we have been planning on how to achieve new goals and accomplish great work. Despite extraordinary circumstances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and limited financial resources, the Forest Preserves will continue to focus on completing critical restoration work, engaging the public in educational programs and events, and providing numerous amenities for Cook County residents to enjoy.

Below are just a few of the projects the Forest Preserves has planned for this year:

  • At Powderhorn Lakein the Calumet Region, we are installing a new water control system in partnership with Audubon Great Lakes that will help reestablish a vital marsh habitat, which will bolster local fish populations and provide habitat for many species of native and migrating birds.
  • The Forest Preserves’ programming team will continue to provide a mix of virtual and in-person events and educational opportunities that open a gateway to our local natural world, with expanded efforts and partnerships to welcome and support people and communities that reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of Cook County.
  • An updated Sand Ridge Campus in South Holland will open in 2021, with new exhibits at Sand Ridge Nature Center, more information across the square mile of amenities, and an emphasis on new programming and community engagement.
  • At Schuth’s Grove in the western suburbs, the Forest Preserves will build a new, accessible canoe and kayak launch, one of nine boat launches and landings on the Des Plaines River and one of nearly two dozen on lakes, creeks and rivers across the Forest Preserves.

And, of course, we will continue to do the work every day to keep the trails open and safe, the preserves clean and well-maintained, and our facilities in top condition. With each of these specific projects—and the plenty more planned throughout the year—we’re committed to applying a racial equity lens to our work.

We hope to see you in the Preserves!

Burn crews performed prescribed burning in the Forest Preserves

Sidelined in Spring, Prescribed Burns Back This Fall

Each spring and fall, crews of staff, volunteers, partners and contractors head into the Forest Preserves to conduct prescribed burns, an important ecological management tool for natural areas which mimics wildfires that our native prairies and woodlands have adapted to over millennia. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crews were unable to conduct the spring 2020 burn season, giving invasive species a chance to continue growing. Fires crew were able to head back out into the Preserves for the fall season, successfully burning a total of 4,284 acres over 12 days, including more than half of the Preserves’ Top 10 ranked priority burn units.

Check out some photos from the fall 2020 burn season on Facebook.

Forest Preserves Police with Two New Canine Officers

Forest Preserves Police Welcome Two New Canine Officers

Last month, the Forest Preserves of Cook County Police Department welcomed two bloodhounds—a breed that is well known for their amazing tracking ability and non-aggressive behavior—who will serve as search and rescue canine officers. In the Forest Preserves’ nearly 70,000 acres, the canine officers will provide critical assistance in searches for missing or lost visitors. Additionally, Forest Preserves Police canine officers may be called upon to assist other police agencies with search and rescue situations.

Latest News

Next Century Conservation Plan: The First Five Years
The conclusion of 2020 marked the end of the fifth year of implementing our Next Century Conservation Plan (NCCP). Even during the pandemic, the Forest Preserves continued to make important progress advancing the goals of this ambitious plan. Check out the NCCP Conservation and Policy Council’s 2020 Annual Report to learn about Phase 1 progress, Phase 2 transition and more.

Commit to a Day of Service in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Stop by any one of the six Forest Preserves nature centers to pick up supplies (or bring your own) to participate in a self-led, litter pick-up hike at your favorite Forest Preserves site. The nature centers also have activity packets for young children about Dr. King’s life and legacy. Also consider joining our community of dedicated volunteers and sign up for our Select Organized Litter Obliterators (SOLO) program and give back to nature all year.

Renew & Rejuvenate This Winter in the Forest Preserves

From the tranquility of nature to invigorating exercise, make the Forest Preserves of Cook County your destination this winter. Check out our list of ideas and tips for ways to enjoy the Forest Preserves throughout the season.

Forest Preserve Foundation: Looking Ahead to Restoration Work in 2021

With the end of 2020, the Forest Preserve Foundation reflects on their impact and the resilience of their community during a year of such upheaval. They also look toward the new year in anticipation of upcoming ecological improvements in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Read about four key restoration projects beginning this year with support from the Forest Preserve Foundation.

Learn about Conservation Corps Programs, Impact During Lunch & Learn

The Forest Preserves and our Conservation Corps partner organizations bring together people of all backgrounds and demographics, with an emphasis on engaging people of color, to the conservation field. Learn more about these programs and how they serve the Forest Preserves, the participants and Cook County communities by attending a Lunch & Learn session on Wednesday, January 20 from 12-1 pm. RSVP to by 3 pm on Tuesday, January 19.

A white-tailed deer in the Forest Preserves


Join our programming teams and naturalists for fun, educational virtual offerings via Zoom and Facebook Live in January, including a photography skills workshop, presentations on native wildlife and birds, as well as seasonal nature crafts and more. Check out our online events calendar for a full schedule.




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