Yesterday I attended a conference in celebration of 100 years of the Cook County Forest Preserve District. When I first moved to the Chicago area, I was impressed by how much land had been set aside in the forest preserves. The conference provided an opportunity to learn more about just how much land is involved and how the preserves got their start.
This infographic from the forest preserve district gives a sense of how much land is involved.
From the Forest Preserves of Cook County:
One of the goals in establishing the forest preserves was to "preserve the flora in its primeval state." The early founders may have been a bit naive about the idea of preservation, thinking of it as simply setting aside land, but we are greatly indebted to their efforts today. Without their work, much of this land would likely be developed today.
Management has come a long way since 100 years ago. Whereas forest fires used to be seen as a major threat, today prescribed burns are a major part of keeping forests, savannas, and prairies healthy. Here's Hidden Pond Woods this spring after a manged burn:
One of my favorite forest preserves to visit is Black Partridge Woods, which is a little north of Lemont. On a recent visit, hillsides were covered with woodland phlox, shooting star, may apples, and wild ginger.
So if you are in the Chicago area, take the opportunity to get out and enjoy some of the 69,000+ acres of forest preserves!
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I'm a biology professor at Trinity Christian College. I'll be using this page to share interesting stories related to ecology and conservation at Trinity and in the Chicago area (although I might be tempted to expand my geographic focus upon occasion).