Forest Preserves of Cook County Natural and Cultural Master Plan
The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) is the largest preserve in the United States and encompasses almost 69,000 acres, of which almost 50,000 acres are natural lands in Cook County, Illinois. The forest preserves are home to distinct plant communities, centuries-old archeological sites, native plants and animals, and provides a reprieve from urban life for thousands of Chicagoans. Unfortunately, the preserves have not always been kept in the best condition due to a number of factors, a majority of which stem from its proximity to Chicago. In 2014, the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois developed the Next Century Conservation Plan for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. This master plan aims to expand and restore the preserves’ native landscape as well as conserve natural and cultural resources present in the FPCC.
The Natural and Cultural Master Plan offers an in-depth description of each part of the plan to preserve and expand FPCC cultural and natural resources. Natural resources include all the plants, wildlife, and other species. Cultural resources refers to the archeological sites present in the preserve, some of which hold artifacts as old as 10,000 years old. Along with a background on the history and development of the preserve, the master plan includes guidelines on how to identify and select natural and cultural resources to preserve or restore. Additionally, the plan provides a framework for future land acquisition, recreation development, capital improvement, and how to handle the ongoing threats and needs of the FPCC.
In a nutshell, this resource offers:
- A historic background to the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the cultural and natural importance of the natural land area.
- Information and breakdown of cultural and natural resources in FPCC Cook County and how they are selected and managed for preservation or restoration.
- An integrated approach on how to administer the Natural and Cultural Master Plan including outreach, monitoring and assessment, education, and maintenance.
How to use this resource:
- As an example of how to introduce a cultural resource preservation plan in another city, town, or nature preserve.
- As an example of how to simultaneously preserve natural areas in conjunction with cultural resources (such as an archeological site) without compromising one or the other.
- Conservation design and implementation recommendations based on examples in the Cook County forest preserve.
Author: Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
Date published: 2014
Citation: Prairie Research Institute. 2014. Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL.