We work hard to be good friends to the Forest Preserve District by making recommendations for change. Our studies provide concrete solutions to problems facing the forest preserves.
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County: Study and Recommendations
In 2002, Friends of the Forest Preserves teamed up with Friends of the Parks, Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the National Audubon Society, to release a joint study of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Its purpose was to review the District’s operations, structure, and budget and to assess how the District can better carry out its mission. Many of the specific recommendations in the study have been implemented and continue to guide District decision-making today.
Phase I: Forest Preserve Study, March 2002
Phase I of the study found that the Forest Preserve District of Cook County had lost sight of its mission, to acquire and manage natural lands for us and future generations. Land acquisition funds were secretly transferred to cover operating costs. Commissioners allowed politics, not science, to determine land management policy and placed a moratorium on land management. Meanwhile, the health of the natural lands continued to deteriorate.
Phase II: Forest Preserve Study, October 2002
Phase II of the joint study examined the board, staff, and budget of the Forest Preserve District. We found that the District was deeply in debt, many employees demoralized, and that the Board had not asked for accountability. The report highlights in depth interviews with Forest Preserve Board members and staff leadership.
Election 2010: Green Paper on Key Conservation Policy Issues
After the February 2010 Primary Election, we knew for sure that the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board would have a new President and several new Commissioners (there are 17 in all). In preparation, Friends of the Forest Preserves’ Executive Director Benjamin Cox partnered with the heads of Audubon-Chicago Region, Friends of the Chicago River, Friends of the Parks, Openlands, and Sierra Club-Illinois Chapter, to deliver the Green Paper on Key Conservation Policy Issues to all candidates. It has helped shape the Forest Preserve District policy of the new administration. Download the full policy paper.
Forest Preserve District of Cook County: A Call for Separate Board of Commissioners
The Board Separation Report published by Friends and The Civic Federation illustrates how the current system of governance for the forest preserves leads to conflicts of interest and a lack of oversight.