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posted: 4/17/2012 3:02 PM

Spend Earth Day in the forest preserves

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Submitted by the Cook County Forest Preserve District

Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day, and throughout the month, there are lots of ways to give back to the land, right here in Cook County.

"Earth Day is an excellent time to take advantage of one of Cook County's most valuable treasures; the 68,000 acres of land that make up the Forest Preserve District," said Cook County Board and Forest Preserve District President Toni Preckwinkle. "From volunteering to assist with habitat restoration, to participating in free educational activities in one of our nature centers, there are opportunities for people of all ages throughout the county."

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County offers an extensive volunteer program that provides meaningful opportunities for individuals and groups to enhance the health and beauty of the preserves and enrich the visitor experience.

This Earth Day, there are a number of opportunities to volunteer at a forest preserve district location near you. Volunteer work includes removing invasive plant species, cleaning up litter, and cutting and piling brush. All tools and training are provided. Volunteers should dress for the weather.

For more details, and a complete list of volunteer workday opportunities, visit Here are some Northwest suburban highlights.

Night life, Earth Day Tales: 7-8 p.m. Friday, April 20, River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook. Celebrate Earth Month with stories and snacks by a campfire. Registration required. $2 per person. Check-in at 6:45 p.m.

Ecological Restoration Volunteer Workday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 21, Deer Grove West, Grove 5, Palatine, Dundee and Quentin roads. Join President Preckwinkle, General Superintendent Arnold Randall, the Sierra Club of Northwest Cook County, Openlands and the Deer Grove Natural Area Volunteers for this volunteer workday event.

Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration Project: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Thatcher Woods, Thatcher and Washington streets in River Forest. 7:30-9 a.m. Woodland bird watch & tutorial; 9:30-11 a.m. spring cleanup at designated areas; 11 a.m.-noon. wildflower and history walk; noon-1 p.m. prairie ecological restoration tours.

Carl Hansen Woods Restoration Workday: 9 a.m.-noon Sunday, April 22, Carl Hansen Woods (formerly Shoe Factory Road Woods), Route 59 between Shoe Factory and Golf roads, Hoffman Estates.

Earth Day Celebration: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, April 22, River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook. Celebrate with a day of hands-on activities inspired by nature to nurture your sense of appreciation for the natural world.

Earth Day, The Forest Preserve Way: Noon-4 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Road, Barrington. Enjoy recreation, restoration and recycling. Recreation: try a GPS course, bike tuneups, and casting a fishing pole. Restoration: See giant equipment in action, and try your hand at seed planting. Recycling: make paper, worm compost, and seed starters.

Also, on April 21, nearly 550 teens from 26 high schools and community organizations will participate in the Earth Day Parks and Preserves Cleanup as part of the Forest Preserve District's Teen Service-Learning Program.

The groups are primarily part of our Adopt-A-Site project and will be cleaning up their adopted sites throughout the county.