Camping in Cook County? Speak Up Now

Cook County Forest Preserve District wants to greatly expand camping. Read the details, and register your views in public hearings today and Thursday. You can also email them.


How would you like to go camping without the long drive to get there? 

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has drafted a plan to greatly expand camping facilities, including renovating and constructing cabins, bunkhouses and a lodge, a new Camp Pine Woods in Northbrook along the Des Plaines River, and more.

It would also expand camping to adults and families; currently only organized youth groups, such as Scouts, can use the three overnight camps.

Read the draft plan, which is in a conceptual stage, at fpdcc.com/camping.

Then make your comments to Forest Preserve District officials Wednesday and Thursday at these times and locations (The plan will be finalized in October after public comments are heard, the FPDCC noted):

·          Wednesday, August 22, downtown Chicago at 1PM (69 West Washington, 22nd Floor)

·         Wednesday, August 22, Little Red School House Nature Center at 7PM (9800 104th Ave, Willow Springs)

·         Thursday, August 23, online at 1PM (visit www.fpdcc.com/camping to be redirected to the online meeting)

·         Thursday August 23, River Trail Nature Center at 7PM (3120 Milwaukee Ave 

If you can't make the meeting, email your thoughts on camping to: kindy.kruller@cookcountyil.gov.

The Forest Preserve is requesting registration for the meetings, though it is not required. Register at: http://fpdcc.eventbrite.com.


Here are some details on proposals in the plan, from the FPDCC:

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  • Day use camping sites throughout the district that will engage youth and families through new programs and recreation opportunities.
  • Renovation of the cabins and barn at Camp Sullivan in Tinley Park and new cabins at Camp Reinberg in Palatine (existing cabins at Camp Falcon in Tinley Park, and at Camp Reinberg would be demolished);
  •  Two bunkhouses, each of which would sleep 32 people, at both Shabbona Woods (adjacent to the Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland) and the Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington (Crabtree would also hold six tent platforms).
  • Six tent platforms in Thatcher Woods (River Forest, IL), which would serve as a base for canoe/kayak trips down the Des Plaines River.
  • New primitive campsite at the Skokie Lagoons, accessible only by foot, featuring twelve tent platforms.
  • A new “Camp Pine Woods” along the Des Plaines River in Northbrook. The campground would feature 24 tent cabins arranged in pods to accommodate either groups or individuals, as well as multiple tent platforms.
  • And the creation of a “Legacy” campground site along Bullfrog Lake in Pulaski Woods (Willow Springs, IL). The proposed legacy site includes a lodge that would sleep 80 individuals, 12 family camping cabins and tent platforms.

All of the proposed campsites are accessible to people with special needs and are intended to be available for rental by the general public, as well as organized youth groups. The lodge at the legacy site would also be available for weddings, conferences and corporate retreats.

The Forest Preserve District shaped the plan based on a spring survey in which 1,300 people indicated their preferences regarding camping.

Pat Craig August 22, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Sent the following letter: I am unable to attend the public hearings on the CCFPD camping proposal, but I do have some serious concerns regarding public safety and preservation of resources. My public safety concerns are based upon the small number of Cook County Forest Preserve Police officers who will be now tasked with additional patrol duties. With such a large jurisdiction and so few officers, I believe there will be an unacceptable response time. Further, by expanding the usage to the general public instead of restricting it to organized, (and properly supervised), youth groups, there is an open invitation to improper activities which would further negatively impact public safety. I further have concerns regarding the preservation, or, more accurately the destruction of flora and fauna that is likely to occur due to campfires and the creation of infrastructure necessary to make “primitive” campsites, (as contemplated at Skokie lagoons), accessible to physically challenged campers. Fire, especially, is a hazard, so much so that the FPD eliminated the fireplaces in the shelters a number of years ago. It makes little sense to intentionally introduce a greater fire hazard into primitive areas now. All in all, although I can see where the Board might consider this as a new source of badly needed revenue, and some benefit to a small number of constituents, I also see the negatives far outweighing the positives and would strongly advocate the defeat of this proposal.


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