In This Issue

Friday, Dec 1 * 5 - 8 pm
Caldwell Woods, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago
Bring your family and friends for an opportunity to enjoy an evening in the Forest Preserves. Join us for a cozy fire, s'mores, storytelling, astronomy, night hikes, natural material building and other nature-based activities.
Saturday, Dec 16 * 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Camp Dan Beard, 200 Portwine Rd, Northbrook
Learn the art of wood masonry! Through a hands-on workshop, discover a natural building process that has been used in the Midwest for centuries. Participants will learn the basic principles of cordwood construction including structural design, wood choice and prep, and mixing mortar and building a cordwood wall section for permanent display at Camp Dan Beard.
Saturday, Dec 16 * 4 - 8 pm
Camp Dan Beard, 200 Portwine Rd, Northbrook
Join us as we approach the shortest day of the year and celebrate with a giant bonfire! We'll also have nature play, art making, s'mores and a food truck on site. Parking for the event is at nearby Potawatomi Woods. A free shuttle will be available throughout the event.
Tues-Thurs, Dec 26-28 * 1 - 3 pm
River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
We provide the fun, you bring the kids to explore something new each day.
Saturday, Dec 9 * 1 pm
Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills
Learn how to start your own native plants with less waste. North Cook Master Gardeners will share tips for starting columbine and milkweed plants from seed this winter to add to your home garden in the spring. The demonstration will include a discussion of ideas to make this process more sustainable by recycling common household and garden items.
Sunday, Dec 10 * 1 pm
Thatcher Woods Pavilion, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest
Make a simple musical instrument, then join the fun in a bluegrass jam circle! Bring your basses, fiddles, mandolins, guitars and banjos, too. All are welcome to join the jam. 
Sunday, Dec 10 * 11 am - 3 pm
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton Ave,
South Holland
Visit our pioneer cabins as we celebrate this joyous time of year in a simpler way with homemade toys, chestnuts roasting and popcorn popping in the open fire. Everyone is invited to make a craft to take home.
Friday, Dec 8 * 5 - 8 pm
Swallow Cliff Woods North, 10267 Calumet Sag Rd,
Palos Hills
Bring your family and friends for an opportunity to enjoy an evening in the Forest Preserves. Join us for a cozy fire, s'mores, storytelling, astronomy, night hikes, natural material building and other nature-based activities
Thursday, Dec 28 * 11 am - 3 pm
Camp Sullivan, 14630 Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest
Don't let winter weather keep you inside. Get active and embrace your time off from school and head outdoors! Youth and families, join us for winter adventure and fun with activities like snowshoeing (weather permitting), guided nature hikes, tracking, shelter building and more. Warm up with a campfire and s'mores (weather permitting). Indoor Climbing Wall included. Call 708-386-4042 for details.

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

The Forest Preserves of Cook County's Emmy Award-winning documentary is now streaming on our website. The documentary captures the sights and sounds within the Forest Preserves as we marked our 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.

2018 FPCC Wall Calendars
The Forest Preserves of Cook County's 2018 Wall Calendars will be available mid-December. The calendars feature beautiful photographs taken throughout the preserves that highlight some of the breathtaking landscapes, plants and animals that thrive locally. Calendars will be available to the public on a first come, first served basis at each FPCC  Nature Center.


by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle

Over the past year, the Forest Preserves of Cook County has been busy advancing its mission. From protecting the plants and animals that thrive in the wild, to offering ways for the public to create their own adventure in the Forest Preserves, there have been a number of significant contributions throughout the County. I'd like to share and reflect back on a couple of the Forest Preserves successes in 2017.
This year, the Forest Preserves dedicated Harms Flatwoods as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as well as Jens Jensen Grassland and Woodland and Bobolink Meadow as Illinois Land and Water Reserves. These designations provide some of the highest levels of protection for open land in the state. The designations also recognize the incredible work that has gone into restoring and preserving these spaces. Dedicated volunteerism and strong partnerships have helped the Forest Preserves work towards an ambitious goal of increasing the acreage of high-quality open land in Cook County.
2018 also marked the release of " Flora of the Chicago Region: A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis," an encyclopedic listing of the region's plant communities which advances the scientific understanding of the Forest Preserves' rich biodiversity. The book was co-authored by Forest Preserves Wildlife Biologist Laura Rericha-Anchor and Dr. Gerould Wilhelm, director of research at The Conservation Research Institute.
The Forest Preserves also continued working to connect more people to nature. Two new visitor centers were opened in 2017: a facility at Dan Ryan Woods where visitors can purchase permits, as well as a new facility at Rolling Knolls, which also offers a disc golf course. Additionally, the popular North Branch Bike Trail extension was completed, further opening up the Forest Preserves to thousands of Chicago residents.
These are just a few of the many ways the Forest Preserves of Cook County has been working hard to protect and preserve nature, as well as to provide incredible opportunities for Cook County residents to relax, explore and learn about our local ecosystems. We look forward to continuing these efforts in the years to come.

See you in the Preserves!
Toni Preckwinkle, 
Forest Preserves of Cook County  

Online and in-person permit sales for 2018 will begin at 8 am on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Remember: You can save time by booking online at Visitors can apply for permits in person at the Forest Preserves General Headquarters, located at 536 N.Harlem in River Forest. The entrance to the parking lot is one block west of Harlem Avenue, off of Bonnie Brae. In-person sales will also be available at the Dan Ryan Visitor Center, located at Dan Ryan Woods-West, 87th Street & Western Avenue in Chicago. 

Our  web map  and  website  now feature up-to-date alerts about closures or conditions that may impact your visit.
View the full list of closures  or keep an eye out for alerts when you plan your next trip at .

By Shelley Davis, Executive Director of the Forest Preserve Foundation

Since its inception, the Forest Preserve Foundation has granted more than $980,000 to programs that support and enhance the Forest Preserves of Cook County. We help young people who work as paid interns in the Forest Preserves. We support restoration volunteers. And we fund programming for youth and families to have fun in nature. 

As we enter the holiday season, we at the Forest Preserve Foundation are reflecting on our impact, and we are planning for the future. We are grateful for our supporters. We recognize and extend our gratitude to our donors, whom you will find listed in the Foundation's recently published 2017  Annual Report .


It's fall prescribed burn season in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Prescribed burning is an important land management tool that mimics wildfires that our native prairies and woodlands have adapted to over millennia.
Each spring and fall, trained crews conduct prescribed fires on thousands of acres when conditions are right for safety, smoke management and burn type needed for specific habitats.
Fire and heat suppress woody vegetation and invasive species, allowing our native ecosystems to flourish. Other benefits include accelerated nutrient cycling in the soil and decreased fuel loads that reduce the likelihood of wildfire.


This past October, the Forest Preserves of Cook County hosted a Bird the Preserves Big Month Birding Competition. Eighteen teams adopted a forest preserve for the month-long event, and collectively spotted nearly 170 bird species of the 283 species featured on the Forest Preserves' birding checklist.


While some may think nature is self-sufficient, the truth is that ensuring our natural lands thrive takes work. A lot of work.
The Forest Preserves are fortunate to have dedicated stewards at sites throughout the county, each hosting numerous volunteer workdays during the year. If you're looking for a fun and easy way to give back to nature, consider joining a workday.


The December Calendar Photo, "Bur Edge Trail," was taken by Bob Fontana at Crabtree Nature Center. Did you know there are numerous winter recreation opportunities to enjoy throughout the Forest Preserves? Many of the Forest Preserves' Nature Centers offer free snowshoe lending, and Sagawau Environmental Learning Center visitors can enjoy miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. There are also several sledding hills throughout the county, as well as designated ice skating and ice fishing lakes. Click here to learn more about winter recreation in the Forest Preserves.