Lake County

Lake County Threatens to Shut Down Forest Preserves If People Don't Socially Distance

The preserves' executive director is ready to close quickly if crowds become unmanageable or do not socially distance

ugc 61 Lake County Forest Preserves
Michael Heimlich

Lake County Forest Preserves may soon close if visitors do not abide by safe social-distancing rules, leaders of the forest preserves said.

"We intend to keep most of the preserves and trails open during the state’s stay-at-home order, but that could change quickly if visitors don’t abide by safe social distancing rules by maintaining a 6-foot separation between people or family groups and follow other public health guidelines," Executive Director Ty Kovach said in a release on the Lake County Forest Preserve's website.

A majority of forest preserve trails remain accessible, though all public buildings, restrooms, playgrounds, visitor centers and dog exercise areas are closed. All programs and events have been canceled through the end of April as well, according to the release.

Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully said forest preserve staff and police are keeping a close on the preserve to ensure people are not gathering in non-family groups and are staying 6 feet apart.

"By following these rules, visitors can help keep the preserves open. But if and when we see that any specific location is no longer maintainable due to the behavior of visitors, we will close those preserves," Tully said.

Kovach said he is ready to close preserves quickly if they seem to be a problem and crowds become unmanageable, according to the release.

“We understand that being outdoors and in your forest preserves provide valuable fitness and mental health benefits during this time. However, visitor safety is always our No. 1 priority,” said Angelo Kyle, Lake County Forest Preserves president.

Lake County Forest Preserves urges visitors to call (847) 549-5200 if they see anyone not following the social-distancing guidelines.

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