DuPage County forest district surveying residents on priorities

DuPage forest preserve officials are asking 10,000 county residents to share what they believe the district's priorities should be.

On Friday, a district survey will be mailed to 5,000 randomly selected households. In addition, 5,000 randomly selected individuals will receive the survey through email.

It's all part of the district's effort to create a new five-year master plan that can guide decisions about improving and maintaining existing facilities - and constructing new ones.

"This is going to be one of the most important ways that we're reaching out to the public," Jessica Ortega, landscape architect supervisor, said Thursday. "This random sample survey is going to help us reach people who aren't as familiar with us."

The last time the district adopted a master plan was in 1992. A lot has changed since.

In addition to installing more than 70 miles of trails and protecting 2,600 acres of high-quality habitat, officials said, the district has constructed several key buildings, including the Urban Stream Research Center and the Timber Ridge Visitor Center.

Getting public feedback is vital in creating a new master plan.

"We have a finite amount of funds," Ortega said. "So we want to find out from the public what are the most important plans, projects and initiatives that they want to see us work on."

To get some of that input, the district has hosted five community meetings where residents shared their thoughts. A final meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien.

The survey is the next step in the process.

Officials say the 25-question survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and responses are due Nov. 20. Anyone who doesn't get the survey will be able to fill it out online between Nov. 20 and Dec. 10 on the district's website at

Residents also can email comments to

Ortega said the results of the survey should be available in January or February.

However, the entire process of updating the master plan is expected to take more than a year.

"We recognize that each preserve needs a lot of detailed study," Ortega said. "The priorities that come out of this larger master plan are going to help us direct what kind of study we work on in future preserve-specific master plans."

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