Parking lots at six popular Cook County forest preserves will be closed on weekends to prevent overcrowding and violations of Illinois' stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic, the county announced Friday.
The parking lot closure will be implemented on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting Saturday at Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village; Maple Lake and Saganashkee Slough in the Palos Preserves near Willow Springs; Catherine Chevalier Woods and LaBagh Woods in Chicago; and Bunker Hill in Niles.
“It’s in response to the fact that people are not observing social distancing," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said at a press conference Friday, adding, "we don’t want the preserves to be a contributor in the spread of the pandemic.”
Nature centers, restrooms and campgrounds were already closed, but picnic tables are now being turned over by staff to promote smart use of the area.
Forest Preserves General Supt. Arnold Randall said Friday his staff has investigated and found proof that people are gathering and having cookouts in Busse Woods, for example.
Preckwinkle and Randall said the decision wasn't made lightly.
Forest Preserves Police will cite violators of the ban starting Saturday at the six lots. Tickets come with fees of up to $500.