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The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

February 2023

 A pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), Photo by: Matthew Zuro
Of the seven native woodpecker species that can be spotted in Cook County, pileated woodpeckers are the largest, nearly reaching the size of a crow.

In this Issue:

  • Celebrating Black History Month
  • Winter in the Preserves: There's Still Plenty to Do!
  • Did You Know? White-Tailed Deer's Gut Flora Changes in Winter
  • Latest News: General Superintendent Presents at City Club of Chicago, Cook County Residents Invited to Comment on Des Plaines River Trail Name Change, Athletic League Permits Now Available, Forest Preserve Foundation 2022 in Review
  • Upcoming Events
  • Volunteer Opportunities
A snow-covered trail

Celebrating Black History Month

Throughout February, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is celebrating Black History Month. Join us for programs and events to learn about Black environmentalists, walk a trail that features poetry written by Black authors, and experience a self-guided journey following the Underground Railroad route connected to the Calumet Region during the mid-1800s. 

And be sure to check out our social media channels throughout the month to learn about some of our employees and the ways they help Cook County residents through their diverse roles, stories from volunteers and how they began giving back to nature, and more. 

Learn more
A woman cross-country skiing

Winter in the Preserves: There’s Still Plenty to Do!

Winter in Chicagoland is typically considered a time for staying cozy inside and drinking a hot cocoa. If families are thinking about the Forest Preserves of Cook County, it’s often reminiscing warmly about (or looking forward to) adventures during the balmier seasons. But when you and yours are in the mood for some fresh air and get away from the built environment, the preserves have plenty of fun, educational and contemplative activities to offer.

Read more
Two white-tailed deer in snow

Did You Know? White-Tailed Deer’s Gut Flora Changes in Winter

Winter is a quiet, peaceful time in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. After weeks of busy preparation in fall for the impending cold weather, many animals are enjoying a long winter’s rest. But not all animals hibernate. A frequent, year-round sight throughout our nearly 70,000 acres is the white-tailed deer. 

Throughout spring and summer, white-tailed deer enjoy a diet comprised largely of green plants, happily grazing on leaves, shrubs and grasses. Come fall, deer will ramp up their intake of higher-fat foods to increase reserves for winter. But what happens in winter, when most greenery and other food sources are scarce? 

Learn more

Latest News 

General Superintendent Arnold Randall Presents at City Club of Chicago on February 21

Join General Superintendent Arnold Randall on February 21 for a City Club of Chicago presentation on the past, present and future of the Forest Preserves, including discussion of the impact of the successful passage of the November 2022 ballot referendum, plans for expanding and improving our nearly 70,000 acres of preserves, and our commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion and sustainability efforts.
Learn more

Cook County Residents Invited to Comment on Des Plaines River Trail Name Change

The Forest Preserves is initiating a name change for the Des Plaines Trail. To highlight its path along the Des Plaines River, and to align with the trail’s name as it continues north from Cook County, the trail will be renamed the Des Plaines River Trail. Cook County residents may submit a public comment at this time.
Submit comment

Athletic League Permits Now Available

Whether for adult soccer practice and youth football games, or disc golf tournaments and more unique sports and activities like Quidditch, consider booking an athletic field in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Locations are available throughout Cook County, and leagues can now submit permit applications for 2023.
Learn more

Forest Preserve Foundation 2022 in Review: Enjoy Photos from the Field, Youth Voices, Words of Gratitude and More

The Forest Preserve Foundation invites you to enjoy the 2022 Forest Preserve Foundation Annual Report. In this review of a year of renewal and reconnecting, you’ll find evidence of both hard work and fun. Photos, quotes and stats offer a closeup view of the youth Conservation Corps programs supported by the Foundation—where youth worked in teams to improve the health of the Preserves, while also gaining job skills and enjoying nature. See how restoration helps improve the quality of life for humans and wildlife. A restoration site map gives you a birds-eye view of where the work took place. And read about the annual Conservation Cup golf event, where the “fundraising and raising fun” theme raised the bar for both. 
Read more

Upcoming Events

Join our naturalists for fun, educational offerings in person and via Zoom in February! Learn about owls and winter birding; create crafts; or join Valentine’s Day-themed programs, guided fitness hikes and wellness walks, outdoor winter activities and more. Check out our online events calendar for a full schedule.

View schedule

Volunteer Opportunities

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, you might be thinking about romantic connections, but did you know that your perfect match might actually be a volunteer opportunity in the Forest Preserves of Cook County? Our mix of programs gives you many options for volunteering: Regularly or occasionally, at a nature center or in the woods, with a friend or to meet new people. Use our Match Statements and see where your heart takes you. 

Get involved
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