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Illinois continues to recognize urban green spaces with Nature Preserve designation for Glenview’s Harms Woods

Monday, October 21, 2019
Chicago Tribune
by Cindy Dampier

OCT 21, 2019 | 8:20 AM
A great crested flycatcher, one of the birds you might see in Harms Woods, our newest Illinois Nature Preserve.
A great crested flycatcher, one of the birds you might see in Harms Woods, our newest Illinois Nature Preserve. (BirdImages/Getty Images)

Woven through the landscape of the second most populous county in the United States, the green patchwork of the Cook County forest preserves represents not only a place to fish, bike, picnic or walk the dog, but a remnant of the wilderness. On Monday, the Forest Preserves of Cook County will celebrate that wild heritage by announcing that the Harms Woods preserve near Glenview will become the Harms Woods Nature Preserve, achieving Illinois Nature Preserve status.

Since implementing a new conservation plan in 2015, the Forest Preserves has sought to certify more urban green land as Illinois Nature Preserves, a designation given to highest quality natural areas, many of which shelter our state’s endangered and threatened plant and animal species. Harms Woods represents the 25th Illinois Nature Preserve designation granted to the Forest Preserves, making the agency responsible for more Nature Preserves than any other land management agency in the state.

Harms, like many of the preserves, has its share of challenges. “It’s a highly developed area,” John McCabe, Forest Preserves director of resource management says, pointing out that the preserve is surrounded by roads, homes and a golf course, “so it’s a real feather in our cap to have a natural area of this quality in an area like this.

The designation, which requires a rigorous scientific survey conducted by the state to assess the quality of the natural ecosystem, recognizes areas in which threatened native landscapes have been restored or maintained to support rich biodiversity. Conservation efforts of that kind are the central goal of the plan for the 70,000 acres of Cook County preserves. Much of that work, McCabe says, is done by volunteer conservationists. “Volunteers do a lot of the work,” he says, noting that the Forest Preserves administration has been practicing active natural area restoration for less than two decades. “Prior to that, our volunteers were really responsible for doing much of the conservation work. If it wasn’t for those volunteers, some of these areas would have been lost. They are a key reasons these places are functioning at the high level they are today.”


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