Category: Latest News

Habitat Restoration to Begin Near Wheeling

Forest Preserve District of Cook County Staring in December 2014, the Forest Preserves of Cook County will begin a new phase of work this month to restore 259 acres of forest preserve land near northwest suburban Wheeling. Contractors will remove a large number of trees from the Portwine, Dam #1 Woods and Willow-Sanders properties, which stretch from Willow Road in the south to Lake-Cook Road in the north. The project began last winter with smaller-scale, targeted brush clearing in more sensitive areas. This next phase will be more dramatic.

Many of the trees being removed are invasive species that encroached on previously open land in the absence of fire. Others were planted in the middle of the last century, when conservation efforts were biased toward preserving forested landscapes. As the field of conservation has evolved, however, scientists have come to understand the critical role of grasslands and other open environments in preserving our region’s complete biodiversity.

The major restoration push will continue through the winter, and aims to restore habitat for plants and animals native to our prairies and woodlands. Removing trees will increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground, encouraging the growth of grasses, sedges and wildflowers. These will provide food and shelter to a greater diversity of wildlife, as well as reducing soil erosion. In some areas, the work will leave selected trees in place, creating savanna and providing a buffer from street traffic.

“You may be using the Des Plaines Trail or driving down Dundee Road and see heavy equipment at work,” said Forest Preserves chief ecologist Chip O’Leary. “Some parts of the landscape may look fairly bare for a while. But give them a season or two, and they will rebound very well with grasses and wildflowers. By enlarging existing meadow clearings, this landscape will function much better as habitat for lots of creatures. It’ll also improve as a place to hike and explore.”

The restoration work this winter will cost $500,000, and is being paid for with wetland mitigation funds from the Illinois Tollway Authority. Also, for the first time, the Forest Preserves will be using most of the wood removed for restoration to produce lumber and firewood. (It is typically either burned or chipped onsite.) This will save approximately $235,000 over the course of the project.

“This project reflects our commitment to restoring natural landscapes through collaboration and leveraging of public dollars,” said Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall.

The work is being done during the winter, when plants are dormant and the ground is frozen and less subject to compaction. The Des Plaines River Trail will remain open during the project.


Upcoming Special Events in the Forest Preserves

Check out some of the great upcoming events in the Cook County Forest Preserves:

December 20 – March 2
Every day, weather permitting
Cross-Country Ski Trails Opens at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, Lemont
Trails will be opened and groomed as snow conditions permit. Sagawau Nordic is open daily, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. All skiers must obtain a free trail pass. Rentals available until 2 p.m. Equipment must be returned by 3:45 p.m. Call for exact opening date.

Beginner Cross-Country Ski Lessons at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, Lemont (9:30 a.m. Saturdays & Sundays through March 1)Learn to ski with a professional instructor! Ages 12 & up. Experienced paddlers – bring your canoe or kayak and ring in the New Year by paddling down the Chicago River from Willow Road Dam to Linne Woods in Morton Grove. Shuttle runs 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. from Linne Woods (Dempster St and Ferris Ave) to Willow Road Dam.

January 31
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Knock, Knock: Who’s There? at Little Red Schoolhouse, Willow Springs
Watch woodpeckers at the feeder and learn some cool facts about them! Registration required. Limit 25.
January 31
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Winter Family Class: Winter Explorers at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Plants and animals can survive outside, even in cold weather. Explore how evergreens thrive in the cold, search for animal tracks and make a snow catcher to use at home. Fee applies.
January 31
Windy City Harvest Youth Farm Facilitator Training at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Join staff from the Garden’s Windy City Harvest for a day focused on youth develoment in an urban agriculture or a school garden setting. Fee applies.
February 1
Groundhog Day Celebration at River Trail, Northbrook
Only the shadow knows if winter is over! Enjoy facts and myths about groundhogs and their shadows.

Property Tax Appeal Seminar

Northfield TWP Outreach Flyer Nov 17 2014 On Monday, November 17th, I will be co-hosting at property tax appeal seminar with Northfield Township Assessor Patricia Damisch at Northbrook Village Hall (1225 Cedar Lane). This free event, presented by Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Dan Patlak, will offer attendees the opportunity to learn how to appeal property tax assessments and fill out appeal forms for submission at the end of the event. Analysts from the Board of Review will be available to answer any questions. This promises to be a very informative event – I hope to see you there!


Connecting Cook County

ConPicture1necting Cook County is the long range transportation effort of the Cook County Department of Transportation & Highways. During November 2014, a MetroQuest Kiosk will be available at the Winnetka-Northfield Library (768 Oak Street) for residents to weigh in on transportation priorities!

Commissioner Goslin encourages everyone to take a hand in crafting the future of transportation in the county by using a kiosk or on the Connecting Cook County website.


Solar Chicago: Residential Solar Discount Program

Thinking about installing solar on your home but don’t know where to start or think it’s too expensive? Solar Chicago is here to help!

Cook County is partnering with the City of Chicago, World Wildlife Federation, Vote Solar, Environmental Law and Policy Center and others to help County residents anywhere in Cook County to simplify the process of researching solar installation options for their home. The program is launched with the goal of reducing the cost of residential solar electric systems and increasing their adoption throughout Cook County and neighboring communities.

Solar Chicago relies on two key elements:

1) Lower Cost: A discounted price (25% off) achieved by pooling the purchasing power of groups, and an additional incentive rebate that provides increasted savings as more people contract for solar electricity on their homes.

2) Smarter Decisions: A community outreach and education effort that engages municipal leaders like Cook County, local employers, community groups, homeowners, and grassroot volunteers.

Interested in learning more? Visit