A great joy in representing the 4th District on the Will County Board is that one of my responsibilities as a board member is to serve as commissioner on the board overseeing the Forest Preserve District. The district is responsible for operating several learning and visitors’ centers, maintaining miles of trails, overseeing proper land management, sponsoring public programs, and, – naturally – keeping up the 70 preserves that the district owns or manages, which offer amenities such as picnic shelters, campsites, watercraft launches, fishing access, ice skating ponds, playgrounds, dog parks, and sled hills.

Will County is fortunate to have thousands of acres of beautiful land, both improved and unimproved, managed by the Forest Preserve District for the enjoyment and appreciation of our residents. From fens to prairie, wetlands to forest, people can explore the wide variety of flora and fauna that populate our Illinois grasslands area. In addition to providing educational opportunities for students and citizens of all ages, careful management of our preserves ensures that the rich heritage (like our rich, black dirt) of the lands and waterways that have fed and supplied our region, our nation, and the world will be available to all who want to study and enjoy its serene majesty.

While much of the work done on the preserves is maintenance in accordance with what mother nature already handles so ably, adjusting for humans’ intrusion on those natural cycles, sometimes more intervention is required to change the normal course of events. One such improvement was just completed at Whalon Lake with the installation of a bridge over a newly-created floodwater diversion channel.

The project is an excellent example of how Will County and its departments work in partnerships to better provide opportunities for county residents and visitors to explore and enjoy the area safely. In this case, the diversionary channel was financed by Elmhurst-Chicago Stone Co., whose quarries have an agreement to pump (clean, safe) groundwater into multiple bodies of water in that area. Whalon Lake, in fact, is a reclaimed quarry itself. The construction and placement of the bridge was included in the project (as well as an extension of the DuPage River Trail) to facilitate the connection of Whalon Lake to the Greene Valley Forest Preserve, tying into the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. All of this intergovernmental and public-private partnership activity reinforces the interconnectedness of the citizens, companies, and civic groups of Will County, and the success of this particular project shows the good things that can be accomplished through their efforts.

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