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Public Lands Matter

For anyone who cares about protecting public lands, the Trump administration's recent announcement that it is reducing the size of two national monuments in Utah by some two million acres is disappointing, depressing and disastrous. This is the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation's history.

Just a year ago, on Dec. 28, 2016, President Barack Obama had established the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, reserving approximately 1.35 million acres of federal lands for the care and management of objects of historic and scientific interest identified therein.

Utah may feel like it is far away, but we have our own public lands in Cook County. They're called the Forest Preserves and we have nearly 70,000 acres of these precious, protected lands.

My earliest experiences in the preserves were attending the annual corporate picnic of my father's company. Every August we would pile into the car and ride out to the Dan Ryan Woods. I remember the long, hot afternoon playing in the picnic grove and exploring the trail. But not too far, as my parents wanted to keep an eye on me.

This is a common South Side city kid's memory, going to the Preserves once a year and only knowing one Preserve site. I didn't know what I know now - that the Preserves spread across the width and breadth of Cook County, offering camping, fishing, hiking, biking, exploring and even ziplining experiences for all who desire.

The Preserves contribute so much to our health and well-being. Ringing the western suburbs, they are a green buffer, cleaning our urban air and filtering our water system. They are a place where we can go "forest bathing," a Japanese practice that has taken hold in the United States. Forest bathers unplug from the noise, distraction and pull of the virtual world by sitting still and paying attention in a natural setting. I encourage you to visit a preserve and try it sometime.

Whether it's your favorite forest preserve - Thatcher Woods in River Forest or Linne Woods in Morton Grove - or a national monument like Bears Ears, public lands matter. They were designated to be protected for a reason. It's up to us as citizens and good stewards to continue to advocate for the preservation of public lands. I urge you to consider making that part of your new year resolution for the good of everyone.

Shelley A. Davis is the president of the Forest Preserve Foundation. Links were chosen and added by Beachwood.


See also: Learn About The Cook County Forest Preserves' 600 Archaeological Sites!


Comments welcome.


Posted on December 13, 2017

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