Forest Way: Party for the Preserves, September Bird of the Month, Forest Preserves’ Photo Contest

by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle

Throughout Cook County, residents and visitors are surrounded by thousands of acres of public land – nearly 70,000 acres to be exact. Our county is the most diverse in Illinois, and includes different habitats such as prairies, forest woodlands, savanna and wetlands. A vast amount of native and migrating animals can be spotted throughout the Preserves, as well as an abundance of rare plant species.

On Saturday, September 24, the Forest Preserves will be hosting Party for the Preserves, a series of events to celebrate these public lands in honor of National Public Lands Day. Each of the new and revitalized campgrounds will become “party central,” offering a variety of fun activities that highlight outdoor adventure, restoration, nature exploration and cultural discovery.

In this month’s Forest Way, be sure to check out the article on Party for the Preserves for information on what to expect. Each campground will be offering a different theme for the evening, as well as the option to purchase a dinner or camping and dinner package.

Also in this month’s newsletter is a story on recent improvements made at the Forest Preserves’ General Headquarters building. A new accessible entrance has been added, providing visitors with direct access to our Permits Department. We will be hosting a public ribbon-cutting for the new addition on Thursday, September 8 at 5 p.m., followed by the final installment of the Forest Jams series at 5:30 pm. Visitors who stick around after the ribbon-cutting can enjoy group jam sessions, learn about making instruments from natural and recycled materials, and enjoy a concert by local musicians.

Finally, this month’s Forest Way includes information on the annual photo contest. Submissions will be accepted through September 15, and winning photographs will be showcased in the 2017 Forest Preserves of Cook County Wall Calendar. We look forward to seeing the many great photography submissions highlighting the Forest Preserves.

Don’t forget, the Forest Preserves 2016 Fall Schedule begins this month. Be sure to visit to view the many free or low-cost programs and events happening throughout the Preserves this season. Visitors can also download a copy of the brochure.Live-Healthy-Discover-Nature-6-9-15-presidentoutdoors-3








We hope to see you in the Preserves!

Toni Preckwinkle, President


On Saturday, September 24, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is throwing a party and everyone is invited! Join us as we celebrate our nearly 70,000 acres of public land on National Public Lands Day with our first Party for the Preserves.


At each of our five new and revitalized campgrounds, visitors of all ages can enjoy a myriad of activities. Each campground’s party is a different theme, and will include the opportunity to purchase dinner packages or camp and dinner packages. Learn more about Party for the Preserves


Black-capped chickadees are social. Each winter, these birds form curious flocks. Learn more about their social habits and where you can go see black-capped chickadees.

Each month during our 2016 Bird the Preserves initiative, we’re giving you the opportunity to see some of the most interesting birds in the Preserves.


Learn more about the September Bird of the Month…


Visitors of the Forest Preserves of Cook County General Headquarters at Cummings Square now have direct access to the Permits, Rentals and Concessions area thanks to recent remodel. In addition to better access, the remodel provides a new lobby with an accessible entrance, an elevator and reception area for visitors. Exterior improvements include updated wayfinding signs, landscaping and paving for visitors.

During a public ribbon-cutting ceremony beginning at 5 pm on Thursday, September 8, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the Forest Preserves’ historic General Headquarters as well as take a tour of the Cummings Square Nature Sanctuary, which features native savanna and prairie plants.

houseLearn more…


It’s that time of year again! We’re looking for your very best photos of Forest Preserves landscapes, close-ups of plants, insects, birds and other wildlife, pictures that highlight the seasons and shots of people enjoying the outdoors or participating in our recreational offerings.

This year’s winning photos will be showcased in the 2017 Forest Preserves of Cook County Wall Calendar, on, on Forest Preserves social media accounts, in an exhibit displayed at the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago and in various suburban courthouses. Each winning photographer will also receive 10 copies of the calendar as well as a Forest Preserves prize package.Learn more about the Photo Contest

photo contest





Dog owners and their canine companions can now purchase a 2016-2017 off-leash dog area membership to enjoy off-leash play in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Use of an off-leash dog area requires annual membership, which includes one key card to enter any of the Forest Preserves’ Off-Leash Dog Area locations.

Click here to learn more about Off-Leash Dog Areas



In May, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, in partnership with WYCC PBS Chicago, premiered its centennial documentary “Chicago’s True Nature: The Forest Preserves of Cook County.”

The hour-long documentary captures the sights and sounds within the Forest Preserves as it marked its 100th anniversary throughout 2015. Viewers will see and learn about the benefits of nature, the impact of open land to our quality of life and what lies ahead in the next century for the one of the oldest and largest forest preserve systems in the nation.

Watch the documentary on WYCC PBS Chicago:

  • Sunday, September 11 at 3:30 am
  • Thursday, September 22 at 8 pm
  • Friday, September 23 at 1 am
  • Sunday, September 25 at 8 pm
  • Thursday, September 29 at 3 am

Learn more about the FPCC documentary




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45th Ward Mom is a portal for those who live, work and raise families in Chicago’s 45th Ward. The goal of 45th Ward Mom is to keep families informed of current events, activities and issues which affect our neighborhoods and our families. By staying informed and engaged, we can work as partners to increase participation, involvement and strengthen our community. This is an interactive portal, so if you have any events or activities, please feel free to post. We’d be happy to share and spread the word!

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