View Previous Newsletters                  March 7, 2014
Dear Neighbor,  

Last month I wrote about what the County has been working on in this last year.  I am honored to also serve as Forest Preserves Commissioner, and am thrilled with the achievements and progress we've made in protecting natural areas.  Total acreage now exceeds 30,000 acres, providing trail connections, wildlife habitat, critical flood protection, and many recreational opportunities.  If you haven't visited our own Lake County Nature blog, I highly recommend it as a great way to experience and learn about our preserves.


The Forest Preserve works with many volunteers and dedicated local partners to further our shared mission.  Listed below are just some of the things accomplished by Lake County Forest Preserves in 2013, as well as some initiatives that are in process.  If you would like more information on any of the following, or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Acquisitions: 2013 was a relatively quiet year in terms of acquisition, especially in light of an extremely busy 2012.  However, there were a few notable items for 2013:

  • Pine Dunes (located along Edwards Road between Hunt Club & Old US Hwy 41): This acquisition added 324 acres, which will reduce flooding and preserve native woodlands.  An agreement with Illinois Tollway calls for $7-$9 million in improvements (at no cost to the Forest Preserves) for wetland mitigation and trail construction.  This is a significant opportunity to provide a major link for the countywide Millennium Trail, and creates multiple trails within the preserve for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.  
  • Nippersink Forest Preserve (located on the north side of Rte. 120 and west of Cedar Lake Road):  This purchase meets the goals of protecting wildlife habitat, preserving native wetlands and woodlands, and expanding trail corridors.

    connecting neighborhoods to the east.
  • Bluebird Meadow (located on the east side of IL Route 59 between Petite Lake Road and Town Line Road): Two parcels were acquired.  Acquisition of these properties would allow for the extension of the Chain o'Lakes bike path and a potential future route for the Millennium Trail.
Trail Systems:  In partnership with Lake County Department of Transportation, and through federal funding and other grants, the Forest Preserve continues to add to our 152 miles of trails, connecting pedestrians and cyclists to more communities, preserves and other trails.  Click here for a current map

Habitat Restoration: Lake County has more threatened and endangered species than any other county in Illinois.  Restoring our preserves through controlled burns, clearing, seeding, and planting is critical to their survival.  Through grants, partnerships, and budgeted monies, the Forest Preserve spent more than $1.1MM restoring and protecting important habitats.  Some areas of note for District 13: 

  • Oriole Grove: located between LFOLA and LBOLA properties in the Skokie preserve, this 84 acre parcel has been undergoing extensive restoration and is a critical ecological link, creating a 250 acre open space corridor along the Skokie River. 
  • Rollins Savanna:  over 1,000 acres dedicated as Illinois Nature Preserve. 
  • Almond Marsh: dedicated nature preserve and important sanctuary for migrating waterfowl.  Several nesting sites for great blue herons were constructed by volunteers.
Fort Sheridan:  There is an exciting opportunity to participate with the Army Corps of Engineers and other local conservation groups and governmental agencies to restore the dunes, bluffs, ravines and lakefront, improving this critical habitat for bird and fish species while maintaining public access.  Click here to download information about the Great Lakes Fish and Ecosystem Restoration Act and how it can impact Fort Sheridan.

Local Food Initiative:  Sustainable farming is beneficial to land and water health and is a priority of CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) for economic growth and creating livable communities.  To learn more about local food and its potential impact for Lake County, use these links:

Sustainable Local Food Systems Report

Video on Local Food Systems

Volunteering:  Much of the work done at our Preserves could not take place without the tireless efforts of our volunteers, worth an estimated $900,000 this year alone.  We need volunteers to help us monitor wildlife, clear brush, educate our visitors, and many other important tasks.  If you are interested in volunteering your time, please click here for a long list of opportunities.


Strategic Plan:  With the help of conservation partners, business leaders, and volunteers, we have determined our vision for the future of Lake County.  Our next steps are to lay out specific and more immediate goals to achieve this vision, which is slated to be complete by June 2014.  


I will continue to keep you informed of projects, events, and news regarding Lake County Forest Preserves.  Please don't hesitate to contact me with your concerns, interests and ideas.  


Thank you,







Sandra Hart, Lake County Board

Phone:  847.372.8934


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