Long before there was a Cook County, this region in which tallgrass prairie meets eastern forest was home to a breathtaking mosaic of landscapes. By the turn of the 20th century, with a great city growing here, civic leaders such as Dwight Perkins and Jens Jensen recognized that it was essential to preserve these native landscapes for people to enjoy for centuries to come. They worked for years to establish the world’s first forest preserve district.
In more recent history, the forest preserves have encountered a great deal of abuse and neglect. Invasive brush turned thousands of acres into impassible thorn thickets, preserve land was sold, and trash littered the landscape. Friends of the Forest Preserves was formed to rescue these treasured lands, knowing that to maintain their vast rewards we’d have to work just as hard as the visionary citizens who protected them more than a century ago.