The Forest Preserve District of Will County was created by referendum on July 25, 1927, to preserve open spaces in Will County, Illinois, US. The first land acquisition was in 1930. As of December 2010 [update] , the District owns or manages 21,916 acres (8,869 ha) of land. Current Will County board members make up a board of commissioners, which oversees the affairs of the Forest Preserve District.
The Forest Preserve District of Will County owns or manages land in 70 forest preserves, including 10 designated as Illinois Nature Preserves for their rare natural features. Many preserves offer amenities such as picnic shelters, campsites, canoe/kayak/boat launches, fishing access, ice skating ponds, playgrounds, and sled hills. The Forest Preserve District also operates three off-leash dog parks, which require a permit for use.
Nature preserves are not the only protected areas in Will County. Channahon State Park and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are examples of state and federal parks, respectively. Channahon lies along the Illinois and Michigan Canal and is connected to the county and national trails in the area. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is located near Elwood, Illinois.
The Forest Preserve District of Will County owns or manages more than 116 miles (187 km) of trails for biking, cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, in-line skating, running, and/or snowshoeing, depending on the trail surface. Many of the trails are part of regional trail systems, such as the Grand Illinois Trail and the American Discovery Trail.
The district's visitor centers provide information regarding historical sites and natural settings along with environmental education. The visitor centers each provide unique services and have varying hours of operation. Seven visitor centers are located throughout Will County:
In 2010, Will County's population was 677,560, 35% higher than in 2000, making it one of the nation's fastest-growing counties.As the population increases, there is a decrease in available land for open space. To preserve the limited open space, the Forest Preserve District of Will County acquires land through property sales, donations, and leases.
Once property is acquired, the Forest Preserve District implements its Land Management Program. The program involves protection, maintenance, restoration, or reconstruction of native ecosystems to preserve the diversity of native flora and fauna. This is accomplished through removal of invasive plant species, installation of native plant species, controlled burns, and other activities.
Each year, family friendly special events are hosted by the Forest Preserve District of Will County. These events range from bike rides to festivals that are attended by thousands of people.
Smaller, more frequent programming offered by the Forest Preserve District provides individuals and families opportunities to learn and experience new things year-round. Learning to kayak, bird watching with a naturalist, and talking to an historical re-enactor are some of the programs that are typically offered.
The Forest Preserve District also offers environmental, historical, and cultural education programs for students in the classroom and at visitor centers throughout Will County as well as programming for youth groups.
Will County is a county in the northeastern part of the state of Illinois. According to the 2020 census, it had a population of 696,355, an increase of 2.8% from 677,560 in 2010, making it Illinois's fourth-most populous county. The county seat is Joliet. Will County is one of the five collar counties of the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area. The portion of Will County around Joliet uses the 815 and 779 area codes, 630 and 331 are for far northern Will County, and 708 is for central and eastern Will County.
Kane County is a county in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 515,269, making it the fifth-most populous county in Illinois. Its county seat is Geneva, and its largest city is Aurora. Kane County is one of the collar counties of the metropolitan statistical area designated "Chicago–Naperville–Elgin, IL–IN–WI" by the US Census.
The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America. Historically, natural and anthropogenic fire, as well as grazing by large mammals provided periodic disturbances to these ecosystems, limiting the encroachment of trees, recycling nutrients soil nutrients, and facilitating seed dispersal and germination. Prior to widespread use of the steel plow, which enabled large scale conversion to agricultural land use, tallgrass prairies extended throughout the American Midwest and smaller portions of southern central Canada, from the transitional ecotones out of eastern North American forests, west to a climatic threshold based on precipitation and soils, to the southern reaches of the Flint Hills in Oklahoma, to a transition into forest in Manitoba.
The Des Plaines River is a river that flows southward for 133 miles (214 km) through southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois in the United States Midwest, eventually meeting the Kankakee River west of Channahon to form the Illinois River, a tributary of the Mississippi River.
The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (MNTP) is a tallgrass prairie reserve and similarly preserved as United States National Grassland operated by the United States Forest Service. The first national tallgrass prairie ever designated in the U.S. and the largest conservation site in the Chicago Wilderness region, it is located on the site of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant between the towns of Elwood, Manhattan and Wilmington in northeastern Illinois. Since 2015, it has hosted a conservation herd of American bison to study their interaction with prairie restoration and conservation.
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is a governmental commission in Cook County, Illinois, that owns and manages a network of open spaces, containing forest, prairie, wetland, streams, and lakes, that are mostly set aside as natural areas. Cook County contains Chicago, and is the center of the most densely populated urban metropolitan area in the Midwest. The Forest Preserve lands encompass approximately 70,000 acres (280 km2), about 11% of the county, providing open space within its urban surroundings. It contains facilities for recreation, as well as a zoo and a botanic garden.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is a governmental agency headquartered in Wheaton, Illinois. Its mission is to acquire and hold lands containing forests, prairies, wetlands, and associated plant communities or lands capable of being restored to such natural conditions for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauty for the education, pleasure and recreation of the citizens of DuPage County.
Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (JOAAP, formerly known as the Joliet Arsenal) was a United States Army arsenal located in Will County, Illinois, near Elwood, Illinois, south of Joliet, Illinois. Opened in 1940 during World War II, the facility consisted of the Elwood Ordnance Plant (EOP) and the Kankakee Ordnance Works (KNK). In 1945, the two were deactivated and combined forming the Joliet Arsenal. The plant was reactivated for the Korean War and renamed Joliet Army Ammunition Plant during the Vietnam War. Production of TNT ended in 1976, and the major plant operations closed shortly after in the late 1970s. The facility briefly revived an automated load-assemble-pack (LAP) artillery shell operation that was managed by the Honeywell Corporation during the Reagan administration in the 1980s before it was finally closed.
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area is a 2,537-acre (1,027 ha) state park and listed state nature preserve. More than half of the state park is a tallgrass prairie maintained as a natural area of Illinois. It is located in Grundy County near the town of Morris, approximately 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Chicago.
Pioneers Park Nature Center, established in 1963, is a 668-acre (2.70 km2) nature preserve located at the intersections of South Coddington and West Van Dorn Streets in Lincoln, Nebraska and is operated by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department.
Thorn Creek Woods Nature Center and Preserve is located in Will County, Illinois, near the municipality of Park Forest, Illinois. It is part of the Forest Preserve District of Will County. The entranceway to Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve is located at 247 Monee Road, approximately 0.25-mile (400 m) north of Stunkel Road, in Park Forest. The preserve is open 8:00 a.m. - dusk daily; the Nature Center is open 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. Friday- Sunday. At 830 acres (3.4 km2), Thorn Creek Nature Preserve lies at the headwaters of Thorn Creek and consists of bottomlands, ravines, and white-oak forests interspersed with marsh and meadows. The actual nature center is located inside of an old church right off Monee Road. It is two stories and contains a nature library and nature exhibits. The trail starts behind the church and heads east into the woods. The topography varies. The trail starts off on high land before dropping down into the Thorn Creek River Valley. It then crosses the creek and goes up and out of the valley, again. The terrain is pretty rugged, especially near the river and its tributaries, because they have cut many gorges and ravines.
The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center is a municipal nature preserve on the north-eastern corner of Austin, Minnesota, comprising more than 500 acres (200 ha) of restored and remnant prairie, hardwood forest, wetlands and meandering streams. Purchased with municipal, state, and private donations, the nature center is administered by the Austin municipal government through the Parks and Recreation Department. Named in honor of Jay Catherwood Hormel, the son of Hormel Foods Corporation founder George A. Hormel, his private estate forms the original land of the park.
The Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center is a multi-campus nature preserve and educational center in Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The NWDC is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt corporation which includes a 611 acres (247 ha) mountain park, lodge, gift shop, and museum in Beulah, a small museum and educational center as well as an open-space park on the Arkansas River in Pueblo, and an adjacent raptor education and rehabilitation facility.
The J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, located in Cherokee County, Oklahoma is privately owned and managed by the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy. The preserve contains 17,000 acres (6,900 ha) of forest and grassland. Spring-fed creeks meander amid a rugged topography of steep slopes and narrow valleys harboring a mosaic of oak-hickory forest, lofty pine woodland, and a diverse mix of savanna, shrubland, and prairie. Elk have been reintroduced at the Preserve
The Douglas-Hart Nature Center, located in Mattoon, Illinois, is a nature reserve that offers visitors different Illinois habitats, field programs, environmental educational classes, and volunteer opportunities for all ages.
Revis Hill Prairie State Natural Area, also known as Revis Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, is a 412.7-acre (167.0 ha) state park located six miles south of Easton in Mason County, Illinois. It is operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as a tallgrass prairie nature preserve and as a fish and wildlife area managed for deer hunting.
Citizens for Conservation is a nonprofit organization, centered in Barrington, Illinois, established in 1971. CFC's motto is Saving Living Space for Living Things through protection, restoration and stewardship of land, conservation of natural resources and education. It is a member of Chicago Wilderness and the Land Trust Alliance.
The Hobart Nature District is located in the City of Hobart, Indiana and encompasses over 1,000 acres of scenic parks, wetlands and floodplains, winding rivers, peaceful lakes, open prairies, oak savannas, old-growth forests, and undulating ravines.
The Friends Creek Conservation Area is a 616-acre (2.5 km2) natural area in the U.S. state of Illinois, located in Friends Creek Township near Cisco in northeastern Macon County. The conservation area, located 18 miles (29 km) north of Decatur, preserves creek woodlands and has regrown some tallgrass prairie and oak–hickory forest. It serves the people of the Decatur metropolitan area.