New Forest Preserves Chief Wants Land Buy To Protect Ecosystems
CHICAGO (WBBM) – Moving quickly, one week into her first term as President of the Cook County Board, Toni Preckwinkle has appointed two transition team members to head the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the nation’s largest.
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The new District head, Arnold Randall, says he wants to assess what natural lands Cook County has now, and then determine what it might purchase to protect endangered eco-systems and provide outdoor experiences for county residents and visitors.
Randall will be the new Superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserve District. He’ll work with Mary Laria, who’ll be the assistant superintendent.
Preckwinkle also approved the district’s new sustainability doctrine which sets the pattern for future district land use.
Open lands advocate Benjamin Cox, Executive Director of Friends of the Forest Preserves, says the sustainability doctrine will essentially preserve for public use the natural lands the district now has. He also says it will discourage the district from bending to political winds and letting pieces of district natural areas be turned into local parks, parking lots or roads.
Randall has been working at the University of Chicago community relations office and worked on Chicago’s 2016 Olympic Bid.
Currently, about 11 percent of land it Cook County, about 67,000 acres, is in the Forest Preserve District which is authorized to acquire up to 75,000 acres.
Its land acquisition plan set up in 2000 has designated several Lake Calumet area wetlands for eventual purchase.