Support forest preserves for a cleaner, healthier Cook County

Clean water, clean air, more jobs and protected wildlife — that’s what this referendum is all about.

SHARE Support forest preserves for a cleaner, healthier Cook County

Trees change color Thursday at the Dam No. 2 Woods in the Cook County Forest Preserves.

Thomas Frisbie/Sun-Times

Nature is a healer, rejuvenating our minds and bodies while replenishing our air and water. Here in Chicagoland, amongst our dense urban areas and sprawling suburbs, the 70,000 acres of forest preserves in Cook County serve as an oasis for tens of millions of visitors each year, healing local residents while restoring the world around us.

This fall, Cook County voters have a historic opportunity to approve a ballot question to bring additional resources to the forest preserves, investing in this important public asset for us and the next generation. We encourage everyone to support this critical initiative, which will provide vital funding to protect our air, water, and wildlife.

The forest preserves provide benefits to every person in Cook County every day. Millions of trees absorb pollution and clean our air, making it easier to breathe and reducing health complications such as asthma. The forest preserves’ waterways and wetlands filter rainwater, preventing pollution from entering streams, rivers, and lakes across the Chicagoland area.

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Supporting our forest preserves is an investment in cleaner, healthier communities across Cook County.

Plus, the additional resources from this ballot question will help the forest preserves add more summer jobs and job training programs, including opportunities specifically for Black and Brown communities. Especially for our young people, working at the forest preserves means earning a paycheck while enjoying the benefits of being outdoors and protecting these important assets for the entire community while learning essential job skills for future careers.

And of course, the forest preserves support countless species of plant and animal life in Cook County, the most ecologically diverse area of Illinois. Nearly 200 threatened or endangered species call the forest preserves home. Approving this referendum safeguards our wildlife by restoring and expanding forest preserve lands.

Clean water, clean air, more jobs and protected wildlife — that’s what this referendum is all about.

As a special unit of government, one of the few ways the forest preserves can raise additional revenue is by going through a referendum, which it has not done for nearly a century. This proposal asks the average Cook County homeowner to pay only an additional $1.66 a month, and there will be full public disclosure and accountability for every tax dollar used.

Nearly 170 environmental, labor, civic, business, and faith organizations across Cook County are supporting this campaign to invest in the forest preserves because we understand the pivotal role nature plays in healing our people, our environment and our world.

Join us and vote yes on the ballot question this fall, located in the middle of the ballot for Cook County voters. Together, let’s defend the natural world right here in Chicagoland, so nature can continue to heal us all.

Jerry Adelmann is president and CEO of Openlands, Benjamin Cox is executive director of Friends of the Forest Preserves and Veronica Kyle is co-founder of the EcoWomanist Institute.

The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and op-eds. See our guidelines.

The views and opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not reflect those of the Chicago Sun-Times or any of its affiliates.

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