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Board Seeks Comments on Proposed Nature Preserves

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County invites residents to comment on the proposed designation of five high-quality habitats as Illinois nature preserve locations, which its Board of Commissioners will discuss at its May 1 meeting at 9 a.m. at District headquarters at 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton.

In October, the board directed staff to recommend high-quality areas at Des Plaines Riverway, Meacham Grove, Pratt’s Wayne Woods, Swift Prairie and West Chicago Prairie forest preserves to the state for nature preserve status. District ordinances already dictate the preservation of rich, natural habitats, but the added status would provide an extra layer of protection for future generations. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission approved all five in January, and the District’s board is now considering the merit of the designations.

Details on each location, including maps and the District’s “reserved rights,” are posted at http://www.dupageforest.com/NewsReleases/Board_Seeks_Comments_on_Proposed_Nature_Preserves.html. Individuals can submit remarks during public comment at the beginning of the May 1 meeting or can email them to forest@dupageforest.org.

If the board approves nature preserve status, the areas would join similar sites at Churchill Woods and West Chicago Prairie forest preserves. The District would continue to own, manage and maintain these areas as it has in the past, and visitors would continue to be able to enjoy their scenic beauty. As with Churchill Woods and West Chicago Prairie nature preserves, though, the status would mean that — with a few exceptions — dogs, horses, and bicycles would not be allowed within the nature preserve boundaries and that individuals who destroy natural resources or violate other regulations would be subject to state penalties. Exceptions, which are part of the “reserved rights,” would include continued on-trail use at Meacham Grove by visitors with leashed pets, horses and bicycles and site-specific uses within designated buffer zones. In total, the six nature preserves would make up roughly 4 percent of forest preserve land.

The INPC helps private and public landowners protect high-quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species through voluntary dedication. Statewide, these high-quality areas are home to more than 20 percent of Illinois’ endangered species. Details on the meaning and importance of are at www.dnr.state.il.us/inpc.

Good things happen when you explore the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s 60 forest preserves and five education facilities. For information on ways to experience conservation, education and recreation in your neck of the woods, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org.

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