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The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

April 2020

Oak Leaf
Photo of the Month: Springtime Oak Leaves, Photo by Fidencio Marbella
Oak trees (Quercus) serve as a host for more than 500 species of butterflies and moths, which is why they're considered a keystone species--a plant or animal that plays a critical role in how an ecosystem functions.
In this Issue:
- Be Healthy, Be Safe
- Native Animals to Watch for in Your Neighborhood
- Plan Your Spring Garden with Native Plants
- Latest News

Be Healthy, Be Safe

From President Toni Preckwinkle

The Forest Preserves of Cook County remain open, but we have closed public access to sites and facilities that are areas of concern due to COVID-19. The health and well-being of Forest Preserves visitors and staff are our primary concern. We know that access to nature is critical right now—for both mental and physical wellness.
 
We implore the public to help us keep locations throughout the Forest Preserves available for fresh air and exercise. If you visit the preserves, you must follow public health guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.
 
In mid-March, the Forest Preserves closed our public buildings; all six nature centers, grounds and trails; the Swallow Cliff stairs in the Palos Preserves; and all Forest Preserves campgrounds. We also cancelled all public events, volunteer activities and permitted events through May 11, following CDC recommendations.
 
At the locations that remain open, each and every visitor has new responsibilities in today’s world: stay at that six-foot healthy distance from anyone who does not live in your household, let people know when you’re passing on the trail, don’t congregate in groups, and wash your hands before your trip and when you get home. Also know that all public restrooms in the Preserves, both public and portable, are closed.
 
The Forest Preserves are keeping a very close eye on crowd conditions at the preserves that are open, particularly those that are more likely to draw many visitors. If conditions change at sites, we can and will close those locations.
 
When heading to the preserves—or anywhere outside of your home—please follow the rules. For a full list of precautions when visiting, visit the Forest Preserves COVID-19 page, which also has the latest information on closures and cancellations.

Visit COVID-19 Page
Grey Squirrel

Watch for these Native Animals in Your Neighborhood

As more people venture outside for fresh air to cure their cabin fever (while maintaining social distancing guidelines!), they’re likely to encounter some neighborhood residents they might not have previously thought about.
 
Wildlife isn’t limited to forest preserves, national parks or wilderness areas. In Chicagoland, because of urban sprawl and habitat loss, animals have adapted to urban and suburban development.
 
Read on to learn about six animals you might hear or see when taking a stroll through the neighborhood this spring.

Read more
Wild Geranium

Plan Your Spring Garden with Native Plants

While at home and with the weather getting nice, many of you may be planning your spring garden. Consider using native plants!
 
Native plantings boast numerous pollinator benefits, provide an array of colors and dimension to a garden, and tolerate droughts, lessening the need to water.

Read more

Latest News 

Finding Hope & Comfort in Nature

Wendy Paulson, chair of the Forest Preserves’ Next Century Conservation Plan Conservation & Policy Council, talks about finding hope and comfort in nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the Article
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.
Learn More
Be Counted in 2020 Census
It is more important than ever for everyone to be counted in the Census. Health clinics, schools, fire stations and more vital services that shape your community are impacted by Census data.
Learn more
High Schoolers: Design the New Cook County Flag
Looking for an art project at home? The next Cook County flag will be chosen from submissions by local high school students. You can enter online; entries are due by May 31.
Enter the Contest
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