The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

June 2020

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly
Photo of the Month: Widow Skimmer Dragonfly Eating Another Insect, Photo by David Jacobson 
Widow skimmer dragonflies (Libellula luctuosa) are found nearly everywhere in the United States, most commonly spotted around the Forest Preserves at ponds, wetlands and lakes in the summer.
In this Issue:
- Racial Equity and the Forest Preserves
- Restore Illinois Plan: Phase Three
- Experience Live Healthy, Discover Nature Virtually
- Events
- Latest News

Racial Equity and the Forest Preserves of Cook County

From President Toni Preckwinkle & General Superintendent Arnold Randall

Last week, the Forest Preserves shared a statement in response to the most recent events in a legacy of systemic and individual racism in our country. As an agency in the most diverse county in Illinois, we work hard to welcome everyone into the preserves. But we recognize that people of color often feel unsafe and unwelcome in natural outdoor places. The Forest Preserves acknowledges that we did far too little for far too long to correct this.
After an officer in our police force failed to protect a young woman during a racist incident two years ago, we immediately understood we had more work to do. We want to give some insight into what that has meant in your Forest Preserves of Cook County.
Building on an existing commitment to equity, we had tough conversations with staff and with community leaders and developed a plan to move forward. As first step, we partnered on a new annual rally in the preserves to celebrate diversity, hosted by the Northwest Side Coalition Against Racism and Hate, and convened a summit of Cook County, Forest Preserves and community leaders around policy and training reforms.
In 2018, we launched a Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion committee to begin addressing internal structural issues. Their work to date has focused on our community engagement efforts, training opportunities and human resources processes to find ways to increase equity in these areas. We are working to strengthen our relationships to communities and increase efforts to connect with and bring in more visitors from a diversity of communities.
Through myriad programs and trainings, we work hard to help people feel inspired and confident while exploring the outdoors. A consultant has begun implicit bias training for every Forest Preserves employee, starting with our police department. And all this work is informed by a 2019 Cultural Awareness Forum for staff, held with the Department of Justice and the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
We recognize that we don’t have all the answers and we don’t cite these initiatives and programs as an indication that our work is done, or our goals have been met. Many are ongoing, and we are open and interested in other opportunities as well. But one thing remains certain: We are committed to continuously working towards equity and a world where every person truly feels welcome and safe in nature and in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Family setting up a tent

Restore Illinois Plan: Phase Three and the Forest Preserves

We’ve updated our operations and visitor guidelines based on Illinois’ move into Phase Three of the Restore Illinois plan:

  • Four of our five campgrounds reopened in a limited capacity from Thursday through Sunday for tents and cabins and throughout the week for R.V.s. We are not taking in-person or online reservations at this time. For more information and reservations, call 855-YES-CAMP (855-937-2267).
  • All ten golf courses are open with the extended Phase Three state rules for play in effect.
  • Off-leash dog areas are open.
  • Rolling Knolls disc golf course will reopen for play on June 12.
  • Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course will open with modified operations on June 13.
  • Busse Lake Boating Center is open on Mondays and Thursdays with limited rental capacity, and Maple Lake Boating Center is open for concessions only, Monday through Thursday.
  • Volunteer activities for groups up to ten participants are reinstated.

Please note that some sites remain closed due to the impact of COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 Page for a comprehensive list of Forest Preserves closures, cancellations and visitor guidelines.

COVID-19 Information
Live Healthy, Discover Nature Graphic

Live Healthy, Discover Nature Virtually

Join the Forest Preserves of Cook County and our partners for the annual Live Healthy, Discover Nature event. This year, the event will be held virtually, so “attendees” can participate from anywhere. Those who join will learn about the many ways to explore nature in the Forest Preserves and how to enjoy nature to improve health and wellbeing. There will also be programs about native wildlife in Cook County, trail safety and etiquette, DIY nature activities, bird banding and more.

Check Out the Schedule


Trailside Museum of Natural History Hosting Food Drive

Help neighbors in need by dropping off food in a safe way on Saturday, June 20. Donations benefit Proviso Partners for Health.
Learn More

Celebrate Juneteenth

Join Sand Ridge Nature Center for a Zoom presentation on Friday, June 19 with guest presenters discussing and celebrating the legacy of this day in African American history and cultural history in the Forest Preserves.
Learn More

Learn about Nature in the Northwest Suburbs

Discover local flora and fauna that can be found in your neighborhood, backyard and throughout the Northwest Suburbs of Cook County.
Learn More

Nature at Home

Enjoy the natural world in your neighborhood or backyard! Check out videos, activities and more from our naturalists and programming teams to experience the wonders of nature at home or in your communities.
Learn More

Latest News 

Forest Preserve Foundation Awards Spring Grants
During their May board meeting, the Forest Preserve Foundation awarded two grants totaling $56,000 supporting the Student Conservation Association and Free Spirit Media.
Learn More
Complete the 2020 Census
Help support our nurses and hospitals—and much more—for the next 10 years. Fill out your census today at The U.S. Census Bureau has videos in 59 languages to help you fill out the form. Visit their website to find a video guide in your native language.
Complete the Census
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