We All Should Vote Yes for the Forest Preserves of Cook County

For Cook County residents, here's an incredibly easy way to help fight climate change and support biodiversity. A slightly different version was published in the   Oak Park Wednesday Journal on October 18, 2022. At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of farsighted people had the novel idea to create the Cook County Forest Preserves system, the first of its kind in the country. It was a daunting task to plan, persuade people, and get laws through the legislature. Only then did the real work begin of purchasing and managing vast acreage, developing public programs, and conserving biodiversity while catering to humans. None of this was easy. Starting with an initial purchase of 500 acres in 1916, today the FPDCC comprises 70,000 acres of natural and recreational areas stretching from Lake-Cook Road south to Steger Road. Consequently, Cook County, home to over 5 million people, can also boast that it’s the most biodiverse county in the state.  In this time of global warming, en

Ecological Gardening

At one time all gardening was ecological, based on organic inputs and using mostly native plants. During the twentieth century, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and the standardized use of exotic plants, changed gardening practice to the extent that gardening could be very harmful to the ecosystem. Ecological gardening encompasses philosophy and practice that reverts to the old idea that a garden should be part of and work with nature to create beauty and grow food, using modern ecological knowledge and organic methods.

An ecological garden can be a 20,000-acre prairie restoration, a 100-acre organic farm, a 1/4-acre suburban yard, or a 25x125-foot city lot. Goals and methods may differ, but the central philosophy of managing the land while contributing to the health of the biotic community, or ecosystem, remains the same.

Some attributes of ecological gardens:
  • They are beautiful
  • They conserve, restore and repeat (echo) the local landscape
  • They are true to place and ecosystem
  • They use mostly or all native plants (except in agriculture)
  • They are sensitive to the needs of and provide habitat for other species
  • They build soil health
  • They use organic inputs and sequester carbon
  • They help manage water