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Science in Support of the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Developing the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan

Forest Preserves of Cook County logo and program images

January 12, 2015

The Institute’s Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, and Illinois State Water Survey are collaborating with the Forest Preserves of Cook County to develop a comprehensive Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan for the Forest Preserves. According to Toni Preckwinkle, Forest Preserves President, “This plan will provide strategic guidance to ensure the diversity of our natural heritage is sustained in the next century.”

The Forest Preserves of Cook County manages more than 69,000 acres of public land, approximately 11 percent of Cook County. These lands include some of the country’s most biologically diverse flora and fauna as well as archaeological sites that provide insights to cultural history and the people who have lived on these lands. The Master Plan will be completed in December 2014 as part of the Forest Preserves’ 100th anniversary celebration.

The role of the Prairie Research Institute is to:

  • compile the known ecological and archaeological data on the forest preserves and make that information available for use by Forest Preserves staff,
  • identify gaps in information,
  • fill critical gaps in data using rapid field surveys,
  • collaborate with Forest Preserves staff to engage constituents and build consensus,
  • develop landcover maps and prioritize areas for natural and cultural resource conservation, and
  • provide management recommendations for preserving and enhancing natural and cultural resources into the future.

The Prairie Research Institute is well suited for this project. “They were the ideal partner for this project”, said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. “They have a breadth of expertise and an ability to organize and protect sensitive information. This partnership gives the Forest Preserves access to more than 600 scientists and technicians with knowledge of Illinois resources unavailable anywhere else.”

Scientific Surveys

Illinois Natural History Survey Building

Illinois Natural History Survey

Since 1858, the INHS has been the guardian and recorder of the biological resources of Illinois — the State's biological memory. With a staff of over 200 scientists and technicians, it is recognized as the premier natural history survey in the nation.

Illinois  State Archaeological Survey Building

Illinois State Archaeological Survey

Formed February 1, 2010 as a new Division in the Prairie Research Institute, ISAS investigates, protects, preserves and interprets the rich archaeological heritage of Illinois through ITARP, the ATAM program, education, and outreach to meet long-term public needs. Drawing on more than eighty years of research at the University of Illinois, ISAS documents and preserves cultural resources within the context of sustainable economic development.

Illinois State Geological Survey Building

Illinois State Geological Survey

The ISGS is a premier State Geological Survey serving the needs of Illinois with earth science information relevant to the State's environmental quality, economic vitality, and public safety. Some 200 scientists and technical support staff conduct basic and applied research in geology, compile geologic maps, and gather and manage the state's geological data.

Illinois State Water Survey Campus

Illinois State Water Survey

The ISWS has flourished for more than a century by anticipating and responding to new challenges and opportunities to serve the citizens of Illinois. Today, the ISWS continues to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability by developing new programs, while continuing to provide long-standing services upon which Illinoisans have come to rely.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Building

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

ISTC is a change agency that performs research, spreads awareness, and facilitates implementation regarding practices, technology and systems that improve sustainability. The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (formerly the Waste Management and Research Center) has been providing assistance to Illinois businesses and the public since 1985.

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A video overview of the applied research of the Prairie Research Institute premiered during the National Council for Science and the Environment’s (NCSE) Conference on Energy and Climate Change, January 27-29 in Washington, D.C. View the seven minute video

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