Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Your Forest Preserves a Green Belt
Nature Bulletin No. 451-A   April 1, 1972
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation

We ordinarily think of an oasis as a green spot in a desert; a place where travelers find shade and water: a refuge where they can rest and refresh themselves. The forest preserves, likewise, are oases. As sanctuaries of native landscape and wildlife they are oases in a rapidly changing metropolitan area otherwise largely barren of such assets. Eventually they and Lake Michigan will remain as the only unaltered primitive features of Cook County.

These preserves are not parks but, in them, every man, woman and child has a place in the country that the richest man does not have and cannot buy. Facilities for appropriate forms of outdoor recreation, principally picnicking, have been provided along the highway borders. The interiors and the bulk of the holdings, which now total 62, 870 acres, have been preserved in their natural state as nearly as feasible. There are thousands of acres of unspoiled woodlands, meadows, marshes, placid streams and bodies of water.

Every year the preserves become more important to the public. As their hours of work per week decreases, people have more leisure time. They are becoming more outdoor-minded. There are more elderly and retired persons. Of approximately 15 million visitors each year, the majority come to picnic but many are merely seeking solitude, quiet and relief from the hurly-burly of city life. They can stroll about, fish, bask in the sunshine, or just rest under a tree. Some pursue hobbies such as nature study and photography. Others engage in more strenuous activities such as hiking or horseback riding on the trails, boating, swimming, golf and winter sports. Youngsters find fun and adventure all year around. The preserves have become an intimate part of the lives of people in many communities and innumerable families.

In a county with five and one-half million inhabitants, and as residential, commercial and industrial developments move steadily outward and finally surround the forest preserves, the problems of protecting and preserving them become increasingly difficult. The woodlands and meadows, with their wildflowers, must be guarded. They must be protected against fires. The wildlife must be safe from hunting, trapping or any molestation. The holdings must be kept intact and used only as originally intended. You can help. They are yours to use, enjoy, cherish and protect.

Our Conservation Department conducts a comprehensive program of outdoor education which includes these nature bulletins; illustrated lectures to school assemblies; naturalist service in summer day camps and school camps training courses or workshop for teachers and youth group leaders; nature centers to be visited by school classes, youth groups and the public. Children and adults thus gain an appreciation of nature and the importance of our natural resources. They are enabled to find more enjoyment in the out-of-doors and make better use of our forest preserves.

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