Enjoy nature, but be responsible
Nature has never been more important than it is right now. People are looking to it to reduce stress, stay healthy and find solace. Many in the Chicago region are flocking to our greatest natural asset, the Forest Preserves of Cook County. We applaud President Preckwinkle, General Superintendent Arnold Randall and his team for their commitment to keep the preserves open just when they are needed most and when many other public spaces are closed. At the same time, we are troubled by reports of illegal and unacceptable behavior by a very few -- crowding, going off trail, picking wildflowers, trampling sensitive vegetation, letting dogs run rampant.
We are so glad people are discovering -- or rediscovering -- these extraordinary landscapes and the more than 350 miles of trails they include. The ability to be active and outside with family members is a blessing. But the privilege of free access to the Forest Preserves carries a responsibility, too, especially in this time of extreme and necessary social guidelines.
That means respecting the space of other visitors, obeying preserve rules and honoring the habitats of animals and plants for whom the preserves are home. It's an opportune time to visit a less well known preserve -- maybe a place you've never been before -- or to visit at a less crowded time. Check FPDCC.com before you go.
We invite you not only to visit, but to join us in protecting and restoring the natural habitats of the preserves. (See, for example: https://fpdcc.com/volunteer/ or https://northbranchrestoration.org). Once we emerge from this challenging time and restrictions are lifted, consider joining thousands of volunteers who give their time, energy and expertise to help make nature in our preserves even more healthy, diverse and welcoming.
Board Members of the Cook County Forest Preserves Conservation & Policy Council
Wendy Paulson, Chairman