Forest Preserve and Conservation Districts in Northeastern Illinois: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century is the result of a two-year study undertaken by Openlands and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The report highlights the underlying importance of land preservation in the region, noting the overall success in land acquisition and restoration achieved by the six forest preserve districts and one conservation district in the seven-county area. These county-based land preservation districts play a key role as they own 170,000 acres of preserved land in the region. Forest preserves and conservation areas are important sites for public education and recreation for a population of more than 8 million people.
The future presents significant challenges including growth, increased development and the rising cost of land. Continued protection of open space will require significant efforts from the forest preserve and conservation districts.
The study looks analytically at each district, reporting issues, findings and recommendations that focus on governance as well as eight areas of operation including: land acquisition; land sales, transfers and encroachments; land management and restoration; recreation; golf courses; educational programs; law enforcement; and financial management.