In This Issue

Saturday, March 11 * 11 am
Thatcher Woods Pavilion, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest
Join us for a free showing of the Emmy Award winning Forest Preserves of Cook County film "Chicago's True Nature" at Thatcher Pavilion, 8030 Chicago Ave. Meet some of our featured animals afterwards. For festival details, visit
Thurs., March 16 * 11 am - 2 pm
Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem, River Forest
Join us to celebrate the start of spring! Learn how real maple syrup is made and participate in a variety of family-friendly activities. All ages. No registration required.
Sunday, March 19 * 11 - 3 pm
River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
Celebrate the arrival of spring with a special day of activities including crafts, games, tree tapping, and maple syrup history with syrup samples to taste. Call for more information.
Wed., March 22 * 4:30 - 7:30 pm
Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago
Come celebrate the start of the spring season with us! Learn how to make a plant press and start your own native plant collection. Make your own compost bin for your kitchen. Create and take home a decorative terrarium in a reusable jar using twigs and other natural materials. In addition, learn about the birds of the Forest Preserves during guided spring-themed hikes and then make your very own birdfeeder.
Tues., March 28 * 10 am - 2 pm
Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve, 11N260 Rohrssen Rd, Elgin
Spring Breakout Adventures offer the chance to practice archery, explore the bountiful wildlife and plant species as well as improve your navigation skills. All ages. No registration required. For general information or available bussing for groups of 25 or more, call  312-415-2970.
Wed., March 29 * 5:30 - 7 pm
Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin Rd, Palatine
Camping 101 is a hands-on workshop series designed to teach basic camping skills. Learn tent set-up, campfire cooking, camping fun, dressing for camping, camping etiquette and more. No registration required. Free.

Conservation@Home Events
Saturday, March 4 * 10:30 am
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland
Join University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners for a program on incorporating native plants in your home landscape to provide habitat for native pollinators and wildlife. 
Saturday, March 18 * 1 pm
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111h St, Lemont
Native plant seeds have specific requirements for germination and growth. Learn how to start your native garden indoors. Adults and interested teens only. Registration required.

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

Forest Preserve Foundation Adds Two New Board Members
The Forest Preserve Foundation recently added two new members to its board of directors: Claire Williams of Environmental Design International and Mark Lester of JP Morgan Chase. The Foundation's board is comprised of civic leaders from throughout Cook County who are passionate about conserving our natural habitats and enabling all people to enjoy and experience the great outdoors. Click here to learn more.
Participate in Dan Ryan Woods Public Planning Open House
The Forest Preserves is continuing planning improvements at Dan Ryan Woods and wants to improve the Preserves' connection to the Major Taylor Trail. A community open house is being planned for later in March, if you would like to be invited, please send your contact information to Kindy Kruller via email or by calling 708-771-1009.
Vote for Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden!
Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden are in the running for USA TODAY's 10Best Readers' Choice travel awards! Did you know that both Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden are located on Forest Preserves of Cook County land?
Brookfield Zoo is a 200-acre zoo located in Cook County's west suburbs, and hosts more than 2,000 animal from all over the world. The zoo provides visitors the opportunity to experience the native wildlife of Asia, South America, Africa and beyond. The Chicago Zoological Society, which operates the zoo, also conducts a variety of important conservation research and outreach.   Click here to vote for Brookfield Zoo.
Within Chicago Botanic Garden's serene 385 acres, visitors can walk through 26 different gardens and four natural areas. There are numerous displays, including a Japanese Garden and an English walled garden, as well as a variety of inspiring exhibits and events throughout the year. Click here to vote for Chicago Botanic Garden.

Join an Achaeological Site Tour
Join the Illinois State Archaeological Survey and the Forest Preserves of Cook County for archaeological site tours. These guided tours will highlight the sites' archaeological and historical past
World War II Prisoner of War Camp Skokie
Oak Forest Poor Farm and Prehistoric Sites
Sunday, April 16 * 1 - 3 pm
Oak Forest Heritage Preserve, Oak Forest
Registration is required. The tours are free, but space is limited.


by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle

With unseasonably warm weather speeding our rush toward spring and days becoming longer, our excitement for the official change of seasons grows. As we enjoy the seasonal change, be sure to visit the Forest Preserves and see plants starting to bloom and migrating birds beginning to appear throughout the County.
In this issue of the Forest Way, readers will learn how students ages 15-19 can become involved with Student Conservation Association and Friends of the Forest Preserves' Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps program. This six-week service-learning experience trains participants to work as a team to perform ecological restoration and trail maintenance work in the Forest Preserves. Applications are being accepted through Friday, April 21.
Also in this issue is an article about Illinois' newest Land and Water Reserve: Jens Jensen Grassland and Woods. This 220-acre parcel hosts myriad habitats including woods, grasslands and wetlands, and supports a variety of plants and wildlife. It's located within the Jens Jensen Forest Preserve, adjacent to Deer Grove Forest Preserve. Plan a visit this season.
If you're a film lover, be sure to head to Thatcher Pavilion, 8030 Chicago Ave. in River Forest, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, for a One Earth Film Festival screening of the Emmy Award-winning documentary " Chicago's True Nature: The Forest Preserves of Cook County." After the screening, attendees can participate in a discussion about Cook County's forests, as well as those of the world, and meet with some of Trailside Museum's resident wildlife.
Finally, our spring schedule is now available and is filled with numerous fun and educational ways to experience the great outdoors with family and friends. Schedules can be picked up at Forest Preserves' events or any of our six Nature Centers, or it can be downloaded from the FPCC events page at

We hope to see you in the Preserves!
Toni Preckwinkle, President

The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) are a well-known destination for human visitors but they are also popular rest stops for thousands of visiting migratory birds. The FPCC's 2016 Big Year Competition recording more than 250 bird species in the Forest Preserves. Many of these rare birds take refuge here during their winter and spring migratory journeys.
The Busse Woods Big Year team, The Buffleheads, took home first place in the nine-month-long effort to record the most bird species. The Buffleheads recorded nearly 200 species at Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village. A total of 21 teams throughout the preserves recorded their findings at Forest Preserves sites between March 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.
While spotting the most species of birds was one component of the Big Year competition, participants were also judged by which team could attract the most new birders. Orland Grassland led with 87 new birder visits, while the Bemis Woods team hosted 28 new birder visits.

Applications for Student Conservation Association and Friends of the Forest Preserves' six-week Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps (CCLC) program will be accepted beginning Monday, March 6 through Friday, April 21.
CCLC is a paid service-learning experience in which students (who will be 15-19 years old by program start date and enrolled in high school or are a 2017 high school graduate) work together on a 10-12 member team to perform ecological restoration and trail maintenance projects in the Forest Preserves. 


The March calendar photo of the month, Refuge taken by Peter Pekarek, features a trio of river otters in the Forest Preserves' Northwest region. Did you know the Northwest region is home to several designated Illinois Nature Preserves and Illinois Land and Water Reserves? To view some of Cook County's most incredible native ecological diversity, spend a day exploring Spring Lake Nature Preserve, Deer Grove Nature Preserve, Jens Jensen Grassland and Woodland Land and Water Reserve, Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve, Shoe Factory Road Prairie Nature Preserve, Baker's Lake Nature Preserve or Busse Forest Nature Preserve.

On January 24, 2017 the  Illinois Nature Preserves Commission dedicated the Jens Jensen Grasslands and Woodland Land and Water Reserve. This 220-acre mosaic of woods, grasslands and wetlands is located within the 624-acre Jens Jensen Forest Preserve (also known as Deer Grove East) in northwest Cook County, and is adjacent to Deer Grove West Forest Preserve. Together, these parcels total 1,800 acres of Forest Preserves land

Dedication of a site as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve provides a high-level protection for land in Illinois, and is granted only to natural areas of important ecological quality.

Learn more about Jens Jensen Land and Water Reserve...

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting a free screening of the Emmy Award-winning documentary, " Chicago's True Nature: The Forest Preserves of Cook County," as part of the 6th Annual One Earth Film Festival.
On Saturday, March 11, film lovers are invited to watch the hour-long documentary, which explores the vastness of the Forest Preserves through the eyes and experiences of the people who care for it and those who enjoy it. Following the screening, attendees can join in a discussion, led by professional trainer and coach Susan Lucci, bridging themes of local Chicago-area forests with those of our global, "intact," Great Forests around the world.  


The 2017 Spring Schedule is now available on the Forest Preserves' Events page, and can be picked up at our Nature Centers, FPCC events, as well as at some local municipal offices and libraries. The downloadable brochure includes information on some of the spring programming available at the  Nature Centers, as well as special events hosted at preserves throughout the County, and information on camping, aquatic centers, the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course and more.