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posted: 1/15/2013 1:41 PM

Cook County unveils camping improvement plan

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Submitted by Cook County Forest Preserve District

Priorities in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County master plan for upgrading camping options include upgrading Camp Reinberg in Palatine with eight new tent cabins, 20 new tent sites and a toilet/shower facility in addition to the existing dining hall.

Architectural and engineering plans will be developed for each of the priority sites in the spring of 2013. Work is expected to begin in the summer, with the initial sites completed by the end of 2013.

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The plan is available online at www.fpdcc.com/camping.

"Through camping, we hope to introduce the next generation of nature lovers to the natural wonders that are just outside their backdoor," forest preserve President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Among the other improvements, the plan calls for a new camp near Northbrook. Camp Pine Woods, located in an open site between Beck Lake and the Des Plaines River, would include a new bunkhouse, eight new tent cabins, twenty new tent sites and new toilet/shower facilities. The camp will provide an alternative for Boy Scouts to Camp Dan Beard, which will be closed. A new canoe launch and activities, such as a ropes courses, may also be built.

Major projects also are planned for sites in south suburban South Holland, Tinley Park and Willowbrook.

More modest investment would occur at "second tier" sites. The plan foresees more primitive, less developed and low-impact seasonal camps along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River. These camps would promote paddling or hiking along river banks with the possibility of overnight multiday excursions. Possible camp locations include the Skokie Lagoons on the Glencoe/Winnetka North Branch of the Chicago River. The island in the lagoons offers a unique overnight experience for low-impact, seasonal camping. Tent pads of varying sizes would accommodate one to three tents in clusters.

Public comments on the district's five-year capital improvement plan are being accepted through the forest preserve website until Jan. 21.

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