Next Century Conservation Plan for the Forest Preserves of Cook County


Openlands and Metropolis Strategies provided staff leadership and direction for the Next Century Plan Commission–comprised of business and civic leaders–to create a strategic vision for the Forest Preserves of Cook County as they enter their second century. In January 2014, Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle formally accepted the Next Century Conservation Plan for the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

This ambitious plan lays out a set of bold actions to make Cook County a national leader in urban conservation. There are four key priorities identified in the Next Century Conservation Plan:

  • restoring native landscapes
  • making the preserves more inviting, accessible, and engaging for all
  • demonstrating and expanding the economic benefits of the preserves
  • ensuring future leaders sustain the focus on conservation and accountability

The plan was created by a blue-ribbon commission of local leaders appointed by Preckwinkle in 2013 as part of the Forest Preserves’ centennial anniversary celebration. The commission was co-chaired by John McCarter, Openlands board member Wendy Paulson, Arthur R. Velasquez, and Dr. Eric E. Whitaker.

Openlands continues to provide leadership as the Forest Preserves of Cook County conduct an ambitious implementation strategy  to address the goals and objects of the plan over the next five years. In 2015, the Conservation and Policy Council, a group of civic leaders chaired by Wendy Paulson, was appointed to advise and lead the implementation.

Read the Plan

The Next Century Conservation Plan for the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Lead funding for the Plan was provided by:

The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust

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