One hundred years after a small volunteer group set aside open spaces for the nation’s first Forest Preserve, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is redoubling its efforts to promote preservation and recreation across more than 100 square miles.
The far south side forest preserves’ seclusion and proximity to areas troubled by gang activity once made them ideal dumping grounds for bodies. And a dense underbrush of white poplar, buckthorn and purple loosestrife, all invasive species, obscured any view of the interior from the road.
The Cook County Forest Preserve includes 68,000 acres of public prairies, forests and wetlands. Depending on the location, visitors can do many things in the preserves, from horseback riding to bird watching.