WBEZ | forest preserve http://www.wbez.org/tags/forest-preserve Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Forest Preserves, a hundred years from today http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/forest-preserves-hundred-years-today-107667 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/6628505003/lightbox/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6628505003_231cf19e0d_z.jpg" style="height: 436px; width: 610px;" title="Flickr/Seth Anderson" /></a></div><p>One hundred years after a small volunteer group set aside open spaces for the nation&rsquo;s first Forest Preserve, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county-forest-preserve-district" target="_blank">Forest Preserve District of Cook County</a> is redoubling its efforts to promote preservation and recreation across more than 100 square miles.</p><p>The District&rsquo;s centennial anniversary campaign officially began Wednesday with a minor name change (though still legally The Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the redesigned logo carries the admittedly less clunky Forest Preserves of Cook County) and a reiteration of <a href="http://www.nextcenturyconservationplan.org/" target="_blank">the Forest Preserves&rsquo; vision for conservation, habitat restoration and trails</a>.</p><p>New master plans in each of those areas &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/forest-preserve-looks-revive-camping-cook-county-104972" target="_blank">as well as camping</a>, <a href="http://fpdcc.com/recreation-master-plan/" target="_blank">recreation</a> and <a href="http://fpdcc.com/downloads/FPDCC2012LandAcquisitionPlanFinal.pdf" target="_blank">land acquisition</a> &mdash; will keep the Preserves on track for the next century, its authors said. The urban sprawl foreseen by the organization&rsquo;s founders has come to pass, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/new-orland-grasslands-trail-stirs-environmental-concerns-106058" target="_blank">threatened to encroach</a> on lands that make up roughly 11 percent of Cook County, while <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/invasive-species" target="_blank">invasive species mount an existential risk</a> to biologically unique northeast Illinois. Governance, too, has faltered in the past. But <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/18051658-474/editorial-in-shakman-ruling-cook-county-forest-preserve-district-gives-patronage-the-pink-slip.html" target="_blank">the February dismissal of Shakman litigation</a>, which dealt with political patronage in hiring, was widely regarded as a vote of confidence in new management.</p><p>Toni Preckwinkle, whose <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/20159461-761/toni-preckwinkle-rips-emanuel-says-cps-closure-plan-weakens-our-public-schools.html" target="_blank">forthright criticism of controversial city programs</a> and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-10/news/ct-met-cook-county-board-president-0611-20130611_1_preckwinkle-commissioner-john-fritchey-scott-kastrup" target="_blank">professionalization of county government</a> have earned her praise from within and outside the Forest Preserves, admitted she didn&rsquo;t realize her position included President of the District until after she had already begun her campaign for Cook County Board President. Her only encounters with the Forest Preserves before that, she said, were events that her predecessor Todd Stroger sometimes held in Sand Ridge at 159<sup>th</sup> and Torrance.</p><p>Emboldened by initial success in increasing visits to the Forest Preserves, Preckwinkle said Wednesday improving public access to those 69,000 acres remains a priority <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CC8QFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fboard-president-preckwinkle-seek-second-term-107642&amp;ei=w-m4UcW7O8ONygGnqIGQDg&amp;usg=AFQjCNGKSsW9bVrA9X4PmgyBPYGiSJBtJA&amp;sig2=mIzMM_xu" target="_blank">as she gears up for reelection</a>. General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves Arnold Randall agreed.</p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dharma_for_one/7390767964/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/eagle.jpg" style="height: 381px; width: 235px; float: right;" title="Bald eagles, like this one seen in a Lake County Forest Preserve, recently returned to northeastern Illinois. (JanetandPhil via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>&ldquo;We want people to be as fiercely protective of the Forest Preserves as they are about the lakefront,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>As a massive network of nature preserves abutting one of the nation&rsquo;s largest cities, the Forest Preserves <a href="http://www.humansandnature.org/how-is-nature-critical-to-a-21st-century-urban-ethic--question-8.php" target="_blank">navigate a complex relationship between ecology and the built environment</a>.</p><p>To help strike that balance between use and preservation, Randall and Preckwinkle said improving access to and knowledge of the Preserves through <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/today%E2%80%99s-mighty-acorns-tomorrow%E2%80%99s-environmentalists-105347" target="_blank">environmental education</a>, transportation and other means would remain a priority, especially for the many Chicagoans who live their whole lives in the city without any idea of the Preserves.</p><p>&ldquo;We want everyone to experience the wonders of nature,&rdquo; Randall said, &ldquo;right here in our county.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1lSYZlpZ2eTm7sz2A88czySQ7QydUDtH7zdDRFccbvO8/viewform" target="_blank">Contribute your ideas for the Forest Preserves&#39; Next Century Conservation Plan here</a>, and watch a video from the Forest Preserves:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/WRHrEYlgOjk" width="610"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 22:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/forest-preserves-hundred-years-today-107667 Closure after double murder comes for community, not son http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/closure-after-double-murder-comes-community-not-son-107366 <p><p>A brutal murder in a Cook County forest preserve gained widespread attention a few years ago.</p><p>The victims, an elderly couple from Hammond, Ind., were known for their strong community spirit.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/StoryCorps Theodore headshot-V.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Theodore McClendon. (Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)" />Their son, Theodore McClendon, came to the StoryCorps booth in Chicago to remember them.</div><p><strong>Theodore: </strong>We grew up in the era of civil rights. There was a consciousness among people that America was in turmoil, but it&rsquo;s growing into something. And my parents wanted us to grow into what America could become.</p><p>He described his parents, Milton Wayman McClendon, and Ruby Dean McClendon, as &ldquo;upstanding&rdquo; people.</p><p><strong>Theodore: </strong>My dad would fix kids&#39; bikes. He would coach Little League, he counseled troubled kids. My mother was a den mother for Cub Scouts, and they cared about the community.&nbsp;</p><p>Then one night, two teenagers came knocking at the door, saying they were in trouble.</p><p>To find out what happened, listen to the audio above.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival. </em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 19:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/closure-after-double-murder-comes-community-not-son-107366 Today’s Mighty Acorns, tomorrow’s environmentalists http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/today%E2%80%99s-mighty-acorns-tomorrow%E2%80%99s-environmentalists-105347 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34610267@N05/sets/72157632687648819/with/8446261684/" target="_blank"><object height="458" width="610"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632687648819%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632687648819%2F&amp;set_id=72157632687648819&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632687648819%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632687648819%2F&amp;set_id=72157632687648819&amp;jump_to=" height="458" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="610"></embed></object></a></p><p>Part of the conservationist Aldo Leopold&rsquo;s classic &ldquo;<a href="http://home2.btconnect.com/tipiglen/landethic.html">land ethic</a>&rdquo; was the idea that you cannot act ethically toward something that you do not &ldquo;understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Your true modern is separate from the land by many middlemen, and by innumerable physical gadgets,&rdquo; he wrote in 1948&rsquo;s <em>A Sand County Almanac</em>. &ldquo;He has no vital relation to it; to him it is the space between cities on which crops grow.&rdquo;</p><p>For many children growing up in a metropolis like Chicago, that may be the case. Indeed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/chicagos-hispanic-neighborhoods-farther-nature-study-shows-104838">some communities are consistently deprived easy access to nature</a>. But Chicago&rsquo;s famous stockyards and steel-framed skyscrapers are not as isolated from Leopold&rsquo;s land as the city&#39;s middlemen and gadgets might suggest.</p><p>Twenty years ago, The Nature Conservancy started&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mightyacorns.org/ourstory.html">Mighty Acorns</a>, an environmental education program&nbsp;that introduces Chicagoans to nature when they are young, hoping to recruit (or awaken) life-long stewards of the land.</p><p>Before they joined the program, for example, some students from the <a href="http://agcchicago.org/">Academy for Global Citizenship</a>, a charter school near Midway airport, might not have know about the rolling hills and forests less than 10 miles down the road at Arie Crown woods in southwest suburban Countryside, Ill.</p><p>Monday morning was the fifth graders&rsquo; second visit to Arie Crown woods. In just a few hours, the group spotted a coyote and a Cooper&rsquo;s hawk, as well as plenty of deer tracks in the fresh snow. They also got a crash course in ecological restoration, learning to identify and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/restoring-prairieland-calumets-industrial-corridor-104751">clear buckthorn, an invasive species that crowds out native oaks</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/acorns3-610px.jpg" title="Kids cut up buckthorn, an invasive species. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s the best kind of education: getting out and experiencing things,&rdquo; said Ruth Jetton, a teacher whose fifth grade class seemed especially adept at reading animal tracks &mdash; and initiating the occasional snowball fight.</p><p>Teachers who once turned to textbooks for far-flung environmental case studies now teach sustainability from Chicago&rsquo;s backyard.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it gives the kids some ownership,&rdquo; said another teacher, Joe Phillips. &ldquo;They know about wildlife already but they don&rsquo;t have the same sense of it until they visit.&rdquo;</p><p>Other exercises focused on adaptation and interdependence. Students mocked up a &ldquo;web of life,&rdquo; donning nametags like &ldquo;mushroom,&rdquo; &ldquo;mouse,&rdquo; and &ldquo;hawk,&rdquo; and then literally stringing out the relationships of their adopted identities using orange rope.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/acorns16-610px.jpg" title="The “web of life” exercise, wherein kids map out ecological relationships using orange rope, is interrupted by the flight of a Cooper’s hawk overhead. Cheryl McGarry of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, points to the bird. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>The Forest Preserve District of Cook County serves the most children per year of the two dozen <a href="http://www.mightyacorns.org/Partners.html">partner organizations</a> that make up the Mighty Acorns consortium.</p><p>The environmental challenges that these kids will face are incredibly complex, inherently political and potentially very costly. So an awareness of nature and basic ecology is only the beginning of a real environmental education. But an early connection to the land can set the stage for lifelong growth, teachers say.</p><p>Congress even gave this idea a vote of confidence in 1990 by passing the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/pdf/neea.pdf">National Environmental Education Act</a>. And Aldo Leopold knew the value of education, too.</p><p>&ldquo;The objective is to teach the student to see the land,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;To understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 09:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/today%E2%80%99s-mighty-acorns-tomorrow%E2%80%99s-environmentalists-105347 Forest Preserve looks to revive camping in Cook County http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/forest-preserve-looks-revive-camping-cook-county-104972 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BD0A7378.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="General Superintendent Arnold Randall announced the masterplan Saturday at Camp Sullivan, one of the new campground sites promoted in the report. (Forest Preserve District of Cook County/Cristina Rutter)" /></p><p>Decades ago, camping was popular among patrons of Cook County&rsquo;s forest preserves. So popular, in fact, that a 1956 report by D.H. Burnham Jr. and Robert Kingery fretted about picnickers and campers who &ldquo;came and went wherever they pleased, littering the ground and marring the beauty and serenity of the woodlands.&rdquo;</p><p>The advent of the automobile had apparently unleashed the full clamor of human activity on the county&rsquo;s natural areas, prompting a 1929 committee to begin restricting recreational use. Outings for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were okay, but &ldquo;the prevailing practice of letting people build and own cabins in the public preserves was to be terminated.&rdquo;</p><p>Now the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is encouraging camping again with <a href="http://www.fpdcc.com/camping">a new campground masterplan</a>, which is meant to foster appreciation for the natural areas in Chicago&rsquo;s backyard &mdash; especially among those who now travel out of state for a taste of nature, or those who might not otherwise experience it at all.</p><p>&ldquo;Camping is one of those ways we&rsquo;ll get a whole new generation of environmentalists,&rdquo; said Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the Forest Preserve District. &ldquo;As well as a new generation of people interested in our Forest Preserves.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There will be aggressive outreach to kids and families in Chicago who wouldn&rsquo;t otherwise go camping,&rdquo; Randall said Tuesday. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re not going to Michigan, and certainly not to Colorado or California.&rdquo;</p><p>The Forest Preserve&rsquo;s board of commissioners approved the masterplan Tuesday, but the process of drafting it started more than a year ago. After soliciting public feedback and convening focus groups, the District selected eight potential sites for camping.</p><p>They include three new sites &mdash; Shabonna Woods in South Holland; Bullfrog Lake / Pulaski Woods in Willow Springs; and Camp Pine Woods in Northbrook &mdash; and a revitalization of existing Camps Reinberg and Sullivan. The plan also calls for more modest investment in secondary sties at Camp Kiwanis and along the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers on the North Shore.</p><p>The plans are just concepts now. Architectural and engineering work will flesh out the actual site details &mdash; campsites won&rsquo;t be open until 2014 &mdash; but the goal is to make the programs revenue-neutral. The District will likely collect user fees and devote that money to maintaining the sites.</p></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 06:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/forest-preserve-looks-revive-camping-cook-county-104972 Cook County Forest Preserve head hopes to lead district out of the woods http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-17/cook-county-forest-preserve-head-hopes-lead-district-out-woods-93186 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-17/IMG_1433_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The <a href="http://fpdcc.com/">Cook County Forest Preserve</a> 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. But an <a href="http://fpdcc.com/downloads/desk-audit-report.pdf" target="_blank">independent audit</a> that was released last week revealed some serious problems at the Forest Preserve District. Many of the district’s more than 400 employees reported issues ranging from outdated technology to safety concerns. Cook County Forest Preserve General Superintendent <a href="http://fpdcc.com/general-superintendents-blog" target="_blank">Arnold Randall</a> discussed the findings with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Wooden Shjips, "Rising" from West (Thrill Jockey)</em></p></p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-17/cook-county-forest-preserve-head-hopes-lead-district-out-woods-93186 Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle discusses first 100 days in office http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-28/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-discusses-first-100-days-of <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-27/toni preckwinkle flickr kodama.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;I expected to find a lot of inefficiency and a lot of inappropriate behavior, and we&rsquo;ve found it,&rdquo; said new Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle with a laugh, speaking of her first 100 days in office. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what to say. Am I surprised? No. I haven&rsquo;t been surprised. But it is a little discouraging.&rdquo;</p><p>Preckwinkle spoke with <em>Eight Forty&ndash;Eight</em>&rsquo;s Alison Cuddy on Monday about the recent investigations into the forest preserve facilities in Lyons, IL, as well as the future of Oak Forest Hospital that has been scheduled to close.</p> <p>Preckwinkle took over for former Board President Todd Stroger in December 2010. A recent Cook County Inspector General&rsquo;s report alleges that during Stroger&rsquo;s administration, employees of the Lyons facility stole money, had sex at work and provided alcohol to minors.</p><p>To combat these issues, Preckwinkle cited new leadership that her administration has brought in, specifically <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-28/general-superintendant-discusses-future-cook-county-forest-preserve-8434">new General Superintendent Arnold Randall</a>, to fight concerns with how it was being managed. She pointed to specifics such as the termination of several summer employees, as well as changes in the cash management system.</p><p>Responding to questions over whether or not governmental bodies like the Forest Preserve should even be under her jurisdiction, Preckwinkle said, &ldquo;Give us a chance to try responsible government before you decide we should be independents.&rdquo; She also pointed out that Illinois already has the most elected officials and separate governments of any state in the nation.</p><p>On the issue of the future of the Oak Forest Hospital, Preckwinkle said that she hopes that when the Illinois Health Facilities and Service Review Board meets in May, it will agree to support the county&rsquo;s recommendation to close the facility.</p><p>Last week,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county/state-board-rejects-cook-county-plan-close-oak-forest-hospital-84053"> the Board rejected the County&rsquo;s plans to close the south suburban hospital</a>. Board members pressed county health officials about where nearby residents would go to seek medical attention if the hospital were closed.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 04:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-28/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-discusses-first-100-days-of