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Preserving our forests is our duty

Monday, May 10, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Letter to the Editor

Friends of the Forest Preserves is grateful for your editorial [May 5] supporting the review of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County's land policy. Even though the issue has been delayed another month, we are looking forward to working closely with the district board as they create a policy that applies to today. Without the protections that a new policy and ordinance will provide, our valuable natural lands will continued to be nibbled away at every turn.

Ninety-one years ago, people of my great-grandfather's generation had the foresight to know the time would come when natural lands such as those in our preserves would be in great demand in our county. And people of my grandfather's generation in 1946 and my father's in 1962 understood the need for the preserves and reiterated the need to protect them through land policies set forth then.

Now is the time for us to do the same: to continue to protect these lands for children like my 3-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son, who do not yet know the implications of decisions that we make today.

Not everybody in Cook County can travel to Yosemite or Yellowstone, or even to Michigan or Wisconsin, to enjoy the great outdoors. But, we can all do it right here in our county preserves -- for free. We can hike, bike, canoe, ski, fish, watch birds and even scramble for frogs, right here in our county. The preserves offer the opportunity to see a hawk, deer or wild orchid, not to mention more than 100 of Illinois endangered species, right here in our county.

In addition, the preserves serve a vital role as both the lungs and water storage in our county. They enhance our quality of life through recreational opportunities and by cleansing our air and water -- irreplaceable services for the county's 5.3 million residents. And we still don't have enough. Illinois ranks 48 out of 50 states in open space.

Understand that the core mission of the Forest Preserve District is to protect and preserve the natural lands, plants and animals of this county in their natural state for the education, pleasure and recreation of the public.

We as citizens hold these lands in sacred trust for ourselves and generations to come. Please, let's get out and enjoy them. And please, let's work together to protect them.

Benjamin Cox,

executive director,
Friends of the Forest Preserves

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