Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, along with other city officials announced new efforts in forest preserves Sunday morning in an effort to flatten the curve on coronavirus cases in the state of Illinois.
Officials announced a variety of measures to limit crowded conditions in areas that remain open, while closing specific areas that do not allow for proper social distancing strategies during the pandemic.
Most areas of the preserves, including most trails, lakes and open fields, remain open.
During the pandemic, Forest Preserves officials have closed public buildings, as well as all public restrooms.
Officials also said that they will continue to monitor sites where park visitors are not following social distancing guidelines.
"If and when we see that any specific location is no longer tenable due to the behavior of visitors, we will add to the sites that are shut down," Preckwinkle said. "At sites where people are not compliant, we can and will close down."
As of Friday, March 27, officials posted on their official site that "due to concerns associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Forest Preserves of Cook County is cancelling all public events, volunteer activities and permitted events and closing some locations (including all public restrooms, nature centers, campgrounds, nature play areas, permit offices and the Swallow Cliff Stairs) through May 11."
According to the site, official location closures include the following:
- All public restrooms (both indoor and portable) are closed.
- Buildings, grounds, trails and bathrooms at Nature Centers are closed to the public until May 11.
- All campgrounds are closed through May 11.
- Forest Preserves General Headquarters, Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, the Volunteer Resource Center and Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center building and nature play area are closed to the public through May 11.
- Golf courses, boating centers and the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course will not be open until at least April 7, and their opening may be delayed further based on the latest information available on the spread of COVID-19.
- The Swallow Cliff Stairs and parking lots at Swallow Cliff Woods-North, Swallow Cliff Woods-South and Teason’s Woods are closed to visitors through May 11.
- Some winter land management closures have been extended until May 11. Before visiting, you can always check if a location is open on their web map or by visiting the location’s page on their website.
- The spring trout season opening day—originally scheduled for April 4—is postponed indefinitely. The parking lots and fishing lakes at Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake, Green Lake Woods, Horsetail Lake, and Sag Quarries are closed indefinitely, starting March 30.
“We are trying to keep open as many of our trails, lakes, woods and open fields as possible to serve as a respite from everything we all are facing—to provide places to listen to a birdsong, or have a bike ride, or look for wildflowers. To do so, we need your help by following social distancing and other public health guidelines,” said General Superintendent Arnold Randall.
Officials continue to urge that everyone continue to practice social distancing, at least six feet apart from individuals.