The tallgrass prairies and savannas of Cook County are rarer and more threatened than the tropical rainforests. After nearly two centuries of urban development and farming in the region, they’ve been reduced to a tiny fraction of their former range. Even for places that have been preserved, changes to the surrounding landscape, the lack of beneficial fire, and the spread of invasive plant species put considerable pressure on the ecosystem.
Through the Forest Preserve District’s volunteer program, thousands of people each year are helping to restore our open spaces at more than 70 land management sites throughout the county, including places like Beaubien Woods, Powderhorn Prairie, the Palos Preserves, Deer Grove, Spring Creek and others. Their efforts are allowing our natural ecosystems in those areas to thrive.
The winter months present an ideal opportunity to support these precious natural lands. Activities such as clearing invasive brush attract volunteers all winter long, especially since the resulting brushpiles offer a festive opportunity to gather around a warm fire in the middle of a beautiful landscape. Volunteering during this season helps people stay active during cold months, stay connected with other community members and enjoy the nature that surrounds us.
Volunteering with the Forest Preserve District is easy. On any given weekend, there are at least a dozen volunteer workdays scheduled at locations throughout the county. We provide all tools and training. Volunteers are simply asked to dress appropriately for the weather and for outdoor work.