Cook County Forest Preserve District Board is Looking Forward to an Exciting New Year as a Result of the New Tax Dollars
Cook County Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners Meeting
October 17, 2023
Observer: Deborah Halpern
Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) Board Meeting
at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center
May 23, 2023
A tribute to Shelley Spencer was on the agenda. In 2015 she produced “Chicago’s True Nature” an Emmy award-winning documentary on the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPDCC).
She has been on the FPDCC’s Conservation and Policy Council taking part in the Council’s Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee.
The Friends of Northbrook Forest Preserve was organized in 1998 and received recognition for their volunteer work in Somme Woods, Somme Prairie Nature Preserve, and Somme Prairie Grove Nature Preserve in northeast Cook County. The groups “hands on” restoration includes brush control, prescribed burns, chainsaw safety, and invasive species control. Over decades this group has contributed thousands of work hours to restoring the health and biodiversity of the preserves.
Commissioner Dennis Deer was reappointed to the Board of Directors of NeighborSpace, an affiliate partner of the Forest Preserve along with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District. NeighborSpace is a nonprofit urban land trust in Chicago that supports gardens with dedicated community groups. NeighborSpace has acquired vacant lots and provides basic insurance, access to water, protection of land from development, links to resources, and technical assistance so community groups can focus on gardening.
A brownfield is a property that is underutilized or vacant that may have environmental issues that prevent redevelopment. The Cook County Dept of Environment and Sustainability will provide American Rescue Plan Act funds up to $1.5 million to the preserves in Brownfield Program demolition, environmental assessment and environmental remediation services for an estimated 65 structures. The plan is to increase green space for outdoor recreation.
Illegal dumping of garbage such as construction debris, tires, hazardous waste, household appliances, electronics, landscape waste on forest preserve land, waters, beaches or down storm sewers is an ongoing pollution problem when perpetrators won’t use legitimate waste disposal and FPDCC has to bear the cleanup costs. It is hard to monitor 70,000 acres for this “fly dumping” as a lot of dumping happens at night. Three agenda items were referred to the Finance Committee that proposed to raise the uppermost fine to $750 from $500 for each offense. Violators caught will be held liable for the cost of legal waste disposal as well as the cost to replace or repair the property damage from the illegal dumping.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center is in Lemont IL and has 2.6 miles of walking trails which in the winter are groomed only for cross-country skiing. Sagawau offers ski lessons and rents equipment. Sagawau Canyon has the only natural exposure of bedrock in Cook County- guided walks can be scheduled. The visitor center has many exhibits and its website lists many events and programs.
Observer - Michele Niccolai
Cook County Forest Preserve Commissioners Board Meeting
January 24, 2023
Results of a 15 week customer service survey by the Forest Preserves had a 25% response rate. Results indicated:
Observer: Laura Davis
Forest Preserve District (FPD) of Cook County Board Meeting
July 26, 2022
A long awaited report was shared today with the Cook County Forest Preserve Commissioners. The coyote living at the River Trail Nature Center has been determined to be well cared for and healthy. Recommendations suggested such as increasing the size of the enclosure, creating a more natural environment and increasing enrichment opportunities will be pursued. Many public speakers, including during this meeting, suggested moving the coyote to a Wildlife Sanctuary in Colorado. The Wildlife Sanctuary responded to the Cook County Forest Preserve that they turn down as many animals every year as they take in. Furthermore, it would be very stressful to move this animal to the sanctuary. The coyote will stay and live in an enhanced enclosure and continue to broaden the learning opportunities for the over 10,000 preserve visitors, field trip attendees and school children. The enclosure will have improved interpretation and messaging and a camera is planned to be installed.
Another topic of interest discussed was the amount of capital improvement ongoing in the Preserves. The list included:
* improvements to boat docks
* repair of Nature Centers
* meeting ADA access needs
* parking lot removals and restoration
* repair of bike trails
* culvert removal and repair
* water filtration related to picnic areas
* replacement of FP Police vehicles
The Forest Preserves discussed expansion of the Conservation Corps which has worked to restore and conserve 400 acres so far. Money from the federal infrastructure bill will allow the FPD to put in electric car charging stations.
The Cook County Forest Preserves was awarded the “Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award” for the 14th year in a row. “The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting and represents a significant accomplishment by a local government. The award is given by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) upon its review of the Forest Preserves’ Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) for FY 2020.”
Observer - Laura Davis Meeting Length: 2 hours virtually on Facebook
Forest Preserve District (FPD) of Cook County Board Meeting
June 14, 2022
Observer: Carolyn Cosentino
Cook County Forest Preserve District Board Meeting
January 26, 2021
A successful rollout of a vaccine site has opened in the Tinley Park Convention Center. The challenge is having enough vaccine to meet the demand.
Written public comment from Benjamin Cox, Friends of the Forest Preserve, requested that the board set up live video for public speakers, similar to other government units. Commissioners agreed to pursue this option.
Observed online by Laura Davis Meeting length: 2 hours — 10am to 11:57am
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.