October 06, 2009

Cook County: Wheeling and Dealing With Our Preserves

This year the Chicago region is marking the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham's plan for Chicago that included a proposal for the Cook County forest preserve system, among other visionary features (like our open, green lakefront, to name another.)

Unfortunately, some on the Cook County board are prepared to mark the occasion by chipping away at the precious "emerald necklace" of forest preserves that rings Cook County and offers all of us a brief break from the pavement. On September 2nd, the Real Estate Committee of the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to allow the clearing of 26 acres of Bemis Woods and to negotiate a long-term lease on the forest preserve property.

On Wednesday, the full Cook County Board will consider the Real Estate Committee's recommendation. Hundreds of Sierra Club members have been contacting their Commissioners, and we expect a close vote at the meeting. On Monday, the Chicago Tribune weighed in with a strong editorial against the proposal. If you live in Cook County, you can help keep our forest preserves intact by:

1) contacting your Cook County Commissioner and urging them to vote no on the lease at Wednesday's meeting; and
2) attending a Friends of the Forest Preserves rally Wednesday morning before the vote:

9 a.m. Wednesday, October 7,
outside of the County Board Room,
118 N. Clark St., 5th Floor

We are all the beneficiaries of visionaries like Burnham who planned and sacrificed so that we can enjoy these natural areas, and pass them on to future generations. In tough times like these, we especially need places nearby when our kids and all of us can experience nature, even if we can't afford to get out of town to bigger, more pristine parks and preserves far away.

Let's show the Cook County Board that these are not their preserves to be making deals with - they belong to all of us, and to the future.

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