Cook County is the second most populous county in the United States and includes the City of Chicago. Within this diverse urban metropolis, the Forest Preserves of Cook County protects 70,000 acres of forests, prairies, wetlands, woodlands and other natural areas including rare habitats that offer plant and animal diversity on par with the rainforests of the world. Thanks to dedicated restoration and conservation efforts, native plants and wildlife—including North American river otters, blue spotted salamanders, native orchids, and birds such as bald eagles and bobolinks—continue to return to or flourish in the preserves. Each year, the Forest Preserves receives an estimated 62 million visits, as people use these lands and facilities to enjoy nature, bicycle, hike, fish, cross-country ski, picnic, canoe, or simply relax. Facilities located in the preserves include nature centers, boat rentals, equestrian stables, golf courses and driving ranges, and aquatic centers. Among the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County are the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden, two world-class institutions located on the district’s land.
About the Department of Planning and De...velopment
The Planning & Development Department plans, designs and constructs capital improvements to make the Forest Preserves more welcoming and accessible. In recent years, the P&D Department has managed significant investment in campgrounds, regional trails and popular recreation sites as well as major renovation of existing buildings and infrastructure to improve life safety and accessibility. P&D staff coordinate interdepartmental committees to review third party request for trail improvements or connections. The P&D Department also coordinates interdepartmental committees relating to land acquisition and land-use licenses. It maintains maps, geographic information, real estate records, design standards for signs and other built structures in the preserves, and information on the condition of Forest Preserve buildings, parking lots, paved trails and other infrastructure.