In This Issue


Friday, May 10 * 5:30-7:30 pm
Rolling Knolls - 11N260 Rohrssen Rd, Elgin
Join us as an instructor leads in creating a spring painting using a large tree slice as the canvas. Materials provided. Ages 21 & up. BYOB (no glass). $20/person. Registration required, call 708-386-4042.
Friday, May 10 * 6-8 pm
Camp Reinberg - 1801 N Quentin Rd, Palatine
Learn to make meals over a fire using cast-iron and basic campfire cooking techniques. Ages 14 & up. Registration required, email for info. 

Saturday, May 11 * 1-3 pm
Camp Reinberg - 1801 N Quentin Rd, Palatine
Join us for fun-filled afternoon exploring our trails on foot and bike. Registration and adult supervision required. Email for info.
Camping with the Birds
Friday, May 11 * 4 pm - Saturday, May 12 * 9 am 
Camp Reinberg - 1801 N Quentin, Palatine
Join Chicago Audubon Society for a camping trip with an owl walk, campfire sing-along, and a morning bird walk with breakfast. Contact 312-636-9750 for more info or to register.

Saturday, May 4 * 9 - 11am
Willow Rd Dam - Willow Rd and N Forestway Dr, Winnetka
Bring your canoe or kayak and celebrate the legacy of canoe legend Ralph Frese by paddling the Chicago River from Willow Road Dam to Linne Woods in Morton Grove. A free shuttle bus runs 8am to 2pm from Linne Woods to Willow Road Dam. Official launch is 9am.
Open House: Des Plaines Trail Railroad Crossing Improvements
Thursday, May 16 * 5:30-7:30pm
Learn about options for improvements along the Des Plaines River Trail at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing between Golf Road and Central Road.

Saturday, May 18 * 9-11:30 am
LaBagh Woods - Grove 1, Cicero just north of Foster, Chicago
Watch scientists band and release birds migrating from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Enjoy crafts, snacks, bird walks and more.
Sun., May 19 * Race starts 8 am
Dam #2 - 906 River Rd, Mount Prospect
Race begins at Oak Springs Road in Libertyville and ends at Dam #2. Free for spectators. Activities at Dam #2 begin at 11 am. Register at

Sunday, May 5 * 11 am-3 pm
Trailside Museum of Natural History - 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Celebrate spring with a day of activities for all ages including animal encounters, kids' tree climb, guided wildflower walks, seed planting, building a bird house to take home and more. Call 708-366-6530.

Friday, May 17 * 11 am-12:30 pm or 3:30-5 pm
Trailside Museum parking lot - 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Introductory class prior to a short paddle along the Des Plaines River. Perfect for new kayakers; ages 5 & up. Registration required, call 312-533-5751.
Thursday, May 30 * Noon-2 pm
Thatcher Woods - Chicago Ave west of Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Try your hand at a new or old pastime. Enjoy a brief nature hike while you wait for your next turn. Ages 18 & up Groups of 10 or more, registration required.


Saturday, May 4 * 10 am-Noon
Swallow Cliff Woods South - LaGrange & 119th, Palos Park
The Palos Preserves are a top priority for restoration. Hike roughly 1 mile with an ecologist to learn why and enjoy the spring wildflower display.
Saturday, May 18 * 10 am
Vollmer Road Grove - Vollmer Rd, west of Crawford Ave, Matteson
Take a fitness hike and enjoy the natural beauty around you.
Tuesday, May 21 * 5:30-7:30 pm
Camp Bullfrog Lake - 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs
Free, hands-on workshop series teaching basic camping skills. No youth groups. All ages; children 16 & under w/adult.
Wed., May 29 * 10 am-2 pm
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center
Visitors of all abilities are invited to celebrate nature through accessible activities.


Wednesday, May 8 * 2-4 pm
Dan Ryan Woods Central - S Western Ave, south of W 83rd St, Chicago
Learn a new skill or hone an old passion. Equipment provided. Ages 18 & up.
Chicago River Day Clean-up Paddle
Sat urday, May 11 * 9 am-Noon
Celebrate the 27th Chicago River Day on the Little Calumet River. All ages. Limited number of boats available for water portion. See for details.
Saturday, May 18 * 10 am
Eggers Grove - E 112th St & S Ave E, Chicago
Take a 2-mile interpretive hike and enjoy the natural beauty around you.
Saturday, May 18 * 11 am-3 pm
Eggers Grove - E 112th St & S Ave E, Chicago
Get your hands dirty with land restoration or relax with games, biking, walks and more. All ages. Limited bikes available. Registration required for groups of 20+. Call 708-386-4042.
Wednesday, May 22 * 4-7 pm
Sauk Trail Woods Central - Forest Preserve Dr, south of W 26th St, South Chicago Heights
Learn the basics of archery. Ages 10 & up. Equipment provided.

For details and a full event listing including all regular events at our six Nature Centers, visit our Events page.
Annual event celebrates volunteers for their work in the Preserves 
Check out the recent recap by the Forest Preserve Foundation of the annual "Teddy Awards," and event hosted by volunteer stewards at Theodore "Ted" Stone Forest Preserve. The event celebrates the "Ted" Stone volunteers and their work to restore Cook County's natural lands.  Learn more .


by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle

The Forest Preserves of Cook County benefits our communities, our region and our planet.
Our 70,000 acres protect native flora and fauna while also ensuring people can experience the beauty of northeastern Illinois' native habitats. Committing to restoring these lands to health achieves both these goals. It also benefits both current residents and future generations to come.
Restored lands provide necessary habitat for a variety of species including migrating and nesting birds, pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies, and hundreds of plants found here in Cook County. And while healthy preserves provide innumerable benefits to nature, they are equally as important to people.
Healthy and welcoming preserves offer opportunities for exercise, de-stressing, and connecting with the natural world around us--all of which offer physical, mental and emotional benefits. As important, the lands of the Forest Preserves keep people healthy by protecting clean drinking water and filtering out pollutants from the air we breathe.
One of the main tools the Forest Preserves uses to keep our natural lands healthy is prescribed burning. Each spring and fall, burn crews head out to burn savannas, prairies and woodlands that have been identified as ready to benefit from this practice. Check out the article in this issue that takes a deeper look at what the Forest Preserves' burn crews do, and learn why prescribed fire is such a vital tool.
Spring migration is in full swing this month, and there are plenty of birding opportunities throughout Cook County. Also in this issue is information on upcoming birding events, as well as news about a new bird conservation guide. Check out one of the family-friendly events or programs at a Forest Preserves' nature center, or head out on a guided bird hike.

We hope to see you in the preserves!
Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County
Photo by Eric Menigat
This spring was the Forest Preserves' most successful spring burn to date, with nearly 10,000 acres burned throughout the county. Curious about how and why we burn? WTTW's Chicago Tonight recently featured an informative piece on the Forest Preserves' prescribed burn program. From site selection and notification to putting fire on the ground, Jay Shefsky offers an inside look at a day in the life of one of our burn crews.

Watch WTTW's piece about the Forest Preserves' burn program...

The Chicago Audubon Society, Bird Conservation Network and the Forest Preserves of Cook County recently released a new guide outlining bird conservation in the Forest Preserves. The guide, "Partnering for Birds," features distribution maps of birds of concern, best land management practices of various habitats for bird conservation, resources for bird monitors and volunteer stewards, and success stories. Interested in learning more? 


Camping in the Forest Preserves of Cook County offers an immersive, round-the-clock nature experience. Campers can fall asleep under the stars, awake to the sun rising over the forest canopy, and head out to explore hundreds of miles of trails, fun and educational nature centers and more. The Forest Preserves offers everything from gear rental to free Camping 101 workshops and casual camping skill lessons at the campgrounds. We even offer a comprehensive camping leadership course for leaders of large organized groups.
Interested in learning about camping in the Forest Preserves? Join us on Sunday, May 19, for a Camping Open House at Camps Sullivan, Reinberg and Bullfrog Lake. From 1-4 pm, the public is invited to tour the campgrounds, cabins, bunkhouses and facilities. Light refreshments will also be available.

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, go on a bird walk or join a Big Sit. With migration near its peak, May is a great time to #BirdThePreserves.


The May calendar photo of the month, "Blue-gray Gnatcatcher" by Tom Lally, was captured at Bunker Hill Forest Preserve, which is located along the popular North Branch Trail. Did you know? The summer breeding range of the blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) has expanded north since the early 1900s--more than 200 miles in the last 25 years alone.
Enjoy spring in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Consider joining a workday, where volunteers remove invasive brush and often conduct brush pile burns. There are opportunities throughout the county for people of all ages and experience levels.

Check out upcoming volunteer workdays...

The Forest Preserves' three Family Aquatic Centers open on Saturday, May 25. In honor of opening weekend, each aquatic center will offer free admission on Saturday, May 25. Kids can play and swim, and families can relax all summer long while enjoying 100,000 gallons of water fun. Additionally, the Forest Preserves' aquatic center management team, Swim Chicago Southland, offers a swim school, aquatic fitness programs and water rehabilitation.