In This Issue

Thursday, Sept 7 * Pre activities start at 5:30 pm. Concert runs from 6:30 - 8 pm
Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem Ave, River Forest
Head out to our concert series and participate in group jam sessions, learn about making instruments from natural and recycled materials, and enjoy a concert by local musicians.  For more information, call 708-386-4042.
Saturday, Sept 9 * 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday, Sept 10 * 10 am - 4 pm
Columbia Woods, Willow Springs Road, South of 75th Street, Willow Springs
Look back 200 years to frontier life and enjoy food, music, crafts, reenactments, canoe races, games and more. Check out
Saturday, Sept 9 * 8 am - 2 pm
Wampum Lake, I-90/94 & Thornton-Lansing Rd, Thornton-Lansing
This annual family fishing derby is perfect for all skill levels.  Register at
Sunday, Sept 10 * 10 am - 4 pm
Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills
Watch artists as they paint along our scenic trails. Listen to live music, view additional artwork for sale and vote for your favorite artist. Try your hand at drawing or painting your own watercolor, materials and instruction provided. Children can sculpt with clay, paint or draw.
Saturday, Sept 16 * 10 am - 3 pm
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland
Join us for a day of activities to promote a better understanding and appreciation of historic Native American culture. Enjoy local Native American archaeology displays, guided hikes, activities, a traditional craft and much more.
Sun., Sept 17 * 11:30 am - 2 pm
Bremen Grove 1, 16061 Oak Park Ave, Tinley Park
Never tried archery before? Attend this session to learn all things archery: history, bow parts and proper technique. 
Migrating Monarchs Celebration
Sunday, Sept 17 * Noon - 3 pm
Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Learn about this amazing globe-trotting butterfly and trace its migration route through fun activities, crafts and displays.See how monarchs are raised, tagged for tracking and watch butterflies being released. Learn how you can help monarchs and other pollinators!

Party for the Preserves
Celebrate your Forest Preserves and all the great activities available throughout our 70,000 acres. We're kicking off the week of National Public Lands Day with celebrations at two of our campgrounds. Learn more at These festivals are free. However, some items (food, souvenirs, and materials) will be available for purchase onsite.
Sept 30 * 9 am - 3 pm
Bunker Hill, Groves 1-4, entrance at N. Caldwell/Touhy Ave. 
Come out for a fun-filled day with the Scouts! Enjoy rocket launches, making sling shots, archery, giant Jenga, games and more! There will also be opportunities to join scouts on site. Click here  or call 312-421-8800 for more information. 
Sat., Sept 30 * Check-in at 3 pm through Sun., Oct 1 * 11 am
Camp Bullfrog Lake, Willow Springs
This special overnight event for families is a great intro to camping. Basic skills training, a cookout and outdoor activities are included. Cost: $75 for family groups up to 6. Camperships are available for families with financial need. For more information and an application, call 708-386-4042. 


Saturday, Sept 16 * 10 am - Noon
Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills
Master Gardeners will demonstrate the three-bin composting technique.  Learn how composting can reduce waste from fall garden clean up and help you prepare your garden for spring.
Saturday, Sept 23 * 1 - 3 pm
Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest
University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists will share their experience of designing, planting, and caring for two gardens built for the birds! Registration required.
Saturday, Sept 30 * 10:30 am
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton Ave, South Holland
What could be better than native plants? More native plants! Learn some basic techniques of plant propagation to increase native habitat for our area. Techniques will include division, cuttings and seed balls.

For details and a full event listing including all regular events at our six Nature Centers, visit our Events page.
In Memoriam

It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to two incredible environmental champions who passed away recently.
Tom Vanderpoel was a renowned leader of Citizens for Conservation. He has left a lasting impact on everyone who knew him and worked with him in the field. Learn more about Tom Vanderpoel.
Bryant Williams was a long-time advocate of the Calumet region and stewardship volunteer.  We will greatly miss his charisma and warm spirit.

Send Postcards from the North Branch Trail

Now through October 15, Cook County bike riders, hikers and runners can participate in the Forest Preserves' inaugural trail challenge, Postcards from the North Branch Trail. Visitors can take photos in life-sized postcards located at six key trail locations, and then post their photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Participants will automatically be entered into a drawing to win prizes or discounts to rentals on kayaks, canoes or bicycles, as well as swag from the Forest Preserves. Learn more about the Postcards challenge by visiting


by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle

Although summer is winding down and fall is slowly approaching, there are still numerous ways to enjoy warm and fulfilling days in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Visitors can consider a leisurely walk along a trail, participating in a fun and educational program at a Nature Center, or paddling along one of the local waterways.
In this issue of the Forest Way, readers will also learn about an opportunity to participate in volunteer stewardship at Spring Creek Forest Preserve. Stewards will be spend the next couple of months collecting and sowing seeds. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to assist in this important work, which helps re-establish and expand native plant populations.
Also in this issue of the Forest Way is an article highlighting two Conservation Corps members who have worked their way up through the program. Experience in Conservation Corps can help young people learn the importance of giving back to their communities while also introducing them to an entirely new field of possibilities for future careers. Click here to learn more about Conservation Corps programs.
And don't forgot the Forest Preserves first-ever trail challenge, Postcards from the North Branch Trail, continues through October 15. Trail users are encouraged to step inside life-sized postcards found along the North Branch Trail. Those who follow the contest directions will be entered to win some great Forest Preserves prizes. Learn more at
Finally, this issue also includes information on joining our upcoming Big Month Birding competition, as well as our Sixth Annual Photo Contest.
We hope to see you in the Preserves!
Toni Preckwinkle,
Forest Preserves of Cook County

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 2018 Forest Preserves of Cook County Wall Calendar, on and on Forest Preserves social media accounts. Each winning photographer will also receive 10 copies of the calendar as well as a Forest Preserves prize package.

Our new web map is designed to help visitors plan trips, navigate the preserves and discover new opportunities. Developed in partnership with Smart Chicago, this map will work on your computer, tablet or mobile device.

Interested in volunteering, but not sure where to start? Consider joining a seed collecting workday with the Spring Creek Stewards at Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Barrington Hills!  We need lots of volunteers to help with our seed collecting efforts.
"Seed collecting can be a great introduction to volunteering in the Forest Preserves; it's fun, relaxing and can be enjoyed by volunteers of all ages," explains Raquel Garcia-Alvarez, stewardship program coordinator with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. "Anyone from families to a group of friends can join in on an upcoming workday, and have a great time while helping to heal the land. Best of all, no previous experience is needed." 


Every year youth and adults in Cook County are recruited to participate in Conservation Corps programs that provide paid, hands-on experiences throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
The Conservation Corps offers participants technical skill development focusing on conservation skills and certifications to pursue a career in conservation. Projects range from removing invasive plant species, building trail boardwalks, tree mulching, and cleaning up river and lake shorelines. Participants also attend experiential learning activities including green career panels and demonstrations from Forest Preserve Wildlife and Fisheries Biologists.


Fall is an excellent time to go birding in the Forest Preserves of Cook County! As migrating birds head south for the winter, birders may spot a variety of raptors, warblers and waterfowl. To encourage fall birding and add a little competition to the activity, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting a Big Month birding competition.
Teams will take to the woods, wetlands and grasslands of the forest preserves to see how many birds they can spot! As was the case for the 2016 Big Year, teams will adopt a preserve and compete against other preserves. For the Big Month, there will be three ways to compete:
  • See the greatest number of bird species
  • Have the highest percentage of bird species seen compared to the historical totals
  • Have the greatest number of checklists


Our friends at Shedd Aquairum recently released a short video that educates viewers on the importance of conservation and volunteerism for amphibians and other animals. The video, Bringing Light to Amphibians, discusses how year-round restoration helps amphibians thrive in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. 


The September Calendar Photo of the Month, "Goldfinch" by Sarah Fallon, features a Goldfinch sitting among cup plants ( Silphium perfoliatum) and goldenrod ( Solidago) at Deer Grove East in northwest Cook County. Deer Grove is home to a variety of habitats, some of which are protected within an Illinois Nature Preserve and Illinois Land and Water Reserve.  While exploring Deer Grove, visitors may spot a variety of wildlife including various birds, frogs and turtles.