Saturday, September 24, 2005

Forest preserves are probably the most important source of open space that a suburban/exurban area like Elgin requires. City parks are also important, but they are typically small and offer different forms of recreation. The health of a county's forest preserve system is, in my opinion, an important barometer of the quality of life and environment in that area. So how do we fare in Elgin? Elgin is lucky that on the east it borders the Poplar Creek Forest Preserves of Cook County. On the other borders, I think much more can be done.

Cook County has 67,000 acres of forest preserve. Dupage County has 24,000, as does Lake County. Where does Kane County stand? Kane County has only 14,200 acres of forest preserve. This is the smallest of the comparable surrounding counties. Even rural McHenry County as 20,000 acres of forest preserve.
A full 11% of Dupage County's landmass is forest preserve. Cook County claims that 11% of its landmass is forest preserve, but according to my calculations, that figure is only 6.4% How about Kane County? 4.2%

When I suggest that the Stony Creek project become a forest preserve project rather than a subdivision project, it's because there is a need for more forest preserve land in Kane County. We lag the other counties in the preservation of open space, which is both important to the environment and to quality of life. Thousands of people use the forest preserves for biking and hiking, fishing, riding, skiing and so on, while teachers use it to give students and children a first-hand look at ecology and science.

The fact that Campton Township felt the need to go out and raise their own money and buy properties like Corron Farm indicates that Kane County is not moving fast enough to protect our natural resources. Examples like Stony Creek suggest that the county is being outmaneuvered by developers.

The recently-approved $75 million bond offering will be helpful, but is expected to buy only 4,000-5,000 acres, whereas we need about twice that acreage in order to be in line with surrounding counties. I hope that in the future, we hear as much about new forest preserves as we do about new subdivisions.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lake County Forest Preserves is the second largest Forest Preserve system in the Chicago area in terms of acreage. Current acreage is 25,484.

9:36 AM  

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