Forest Preserves District of Cook County
May 28 2015
These are just the tidbits that I wrote down.
I understand that all the full presentations will be on the Forest Preserve website soon.
Arnold Randall: General Superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserves
The current administration deeply believes in the forest preserve mission. Recent accomplishments:
Buying land. Recently bought a 400 acre parcel, the biggest acquisition since the 60s.
Completed many ambitious plans.
Re-opened the preserves to camping (at one site so far).
Goal of restoring 30,00 acres to high quality woodland, prairies and wetlands in the next 25 years.
Robert Grese: Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Michigan
Jens Jensen, a founder of the preserve system, believed that support for nature was a key part of patriotism. He worked his way up from street sweeper in the Park District to park designer and landscape architect. He supplied the name to "The Prairie Club" which sponsored "Saturday Afternoon Walking Trips" to promote the idea of forest preserves. Later he organized "Friends of Our Native Landscape" to do more advocacy. The "Friends" called themselves "the do-ers."
Julia Bachrach, historian and preservationist, Chicago Park District
In he early 1900s, nature was in eclipse, but people wanted it. The Park District bought 50 or 100 squirrels and released them to restore wildlife. But they disappeared.
Elizabeth Millan Brusslan, Professor of Philosophy, DePaul University
Neither economic standing nor class divisions should be factors in who has access to sacred spaces for play. Play and preservation go hand in hand. At Deer Grove East, the Forest Preserves and Openlands collaborated on a large scale restoration that was so successful that rare species have returned or been rediscovered. These includes sandhill cranes, red-headed woodpeckers, and the northern cranesbill in a much used preserve.
Liam Heneghan, Profession of Environmental Science, DePaul University
One early hunter shot 40 owls in a day and used one as bait to trap a wolf. Another shot 68 wood ducks in an hour. Our efforts to restore the ecosystem is similar to restoring health to a sick person. We don't try to make them younger or reverse the clock. We just seek to restore them - as with the ecosystem - to good health.
Natalie Bump Vena, Fellow in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, Williams College
In early years, misuse damaged the preserves. Staff spent a lot of time protecting the land from the public - for the public. She quoted Superintendent of Maintenance Roberts Mann to the effect that hiring young men as conservation workers during the Depression was a social good. Otherwise, "They would drift toward crime, revolution, or suicide." Though grasslands were a valued part of the preserves in early years, later staff planted trees in original prairies and declared that protection of the preserves from fire "takes precedence over all other work."
Paul Gobster, Research Landscape Architect, U.S. Forest Service
He argued that "Beauty" was an important value. His slide illustrating beauty showed a very open woods with widely-spaced open-grown trees. He quoted studies showing that nature experienced made people more altruistic. A recent poll showed 80% of the public supported controlled burns but that most people still question deer culling and use of herbicides.
Chris Anchor, Senior Wildlife Biologist of the Forest Preserves
Many species of animals need more habitat and have been lost. As habitat has been protected and improved, many species have returned including white-tailed deer, coyote, bald eagle, and osprey. Species that may soon return include the martin. Martin's are "only two counties away." Their return could reduce the overpopulated raccoons.
Stephen Packard, Volunteer Steward
Since I have the slides and write this blog, I'll try to post my full comments soon.
Mary Laraia, former Deputy General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves
Forest Preserve progress requires inspired leadership. She quoted one questionable approach by Frank Lowden (who later became Governor of Illinois), "It is a greater crime to kill a healthy living tree than to kill a man." She admired the political leadership of Henry Foreman, President of the Cook County Board (1902-1904). He wrote, "... standing native forests ... if they are not secured now ... will be parceled into subdivisions. The forests will disappear, and the art of man never will be able to recreate them."