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updated: 12/1/2012 9:51 AM

Portions of Oak Forest preserve now open to public

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Associated Press

OAK FOREST -- Portions of the new Oak Forest Heritage Preserve are now open to the public.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County says it acquired the 176-acre site in suburban Chicago from the county two years ago because of its ecological, cultural and historical value.

An archeological investigation in the 1950s uncovered the first Native American village found in northeastern Illinois.

The site later served as a poor farm, a tuberculosis treatment center and a burial site for the county's indigent residents. The burial areas remain closed pending final design of restoration efforts.

The preserve is on 159th Street, east of Cook County's Oak Forest Medical Center campus.

Future improvements include trails, interpretive signs and more site restoration work.

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