MLK Day suggested as service day in Cook County Forest Preserves

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Photo by Josh Bootsma

President Preckwinkle encourages self-led litter clean-up hikes in forest preserves

Information provided by the Forest Preserves of Cook County

CHICAGO, Ill. (January 14, 2021) – Cook County Board and Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is encouraging Cook County residents to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by committing to a day of community service in the Preserves.

“The lessons Dr. King left us about the necessity of equity and the power of community are a transcendent gift for every American. To celebrate his legacy on January 18, and every day, let’s remember those lessons and remind ourselves that we too can choose to make a difference,” says President Preckwinkle.

Self-led litter clean up hikes allow visitors to enjoy the preserves while making them a better place to visit and a better home for native plants and wildlife. For the Forest Preserves 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, members of the public can stop by any of the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers or Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center to pick up trash bags and gloves then head out to a preserve of their choice (registration required at the visitor center, see below). Or people can use their own supplies for their self-led litter pick-up hike.

“To celebrate Dr. King on this holiday, the Forest Preserves typically brings people together for volunteer environmental restoration at Dan Ryan Woods. Following public health guidelines, we’re doing something different this year. Throughout the pandemic, the Forest Preserves have provided the public with a place to safely get outside for nature, fresh air and exercise. This is an opportunity to get outside and give back,” says Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall.

The nature centers and Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center will also have activity packets available on January 18 for young children to learn about Dr. King’s life and legacy. Please call to verify availability.

On January 18 or beyond, anyone can commit to regularly volunteering in the Preserves through the Select Organized Litter Obliterators, or SOLO, program. SOLO volunteers can choose to go to a Litter Hotspot—specific locations identified for litter clean up—or any Forest Preserves site of their choosing. Volunteer information can be found on the Forest Preserves’ website at fpdcc.com/volunteer.

Nature Centers: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Crabtree Nature Center: 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills, 847-381-6592

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center: 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs, 708-839-6897

River Trail Nature Center: 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook, 847-824-8360

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center: 12545 West 111th St, Lemont, 630-257-2045

Sand Ridge Nature Center: 15891 Paxton Ave, South Holland, 708-868-0606

Trailside Museum of Natural History: 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest, 708-366-6530

Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., South Western Ave & West 87th Street, Chicago. Registration required; email [email protected] or call 312-415-2970