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Cook County intends to keep most of its forest preserves open during the state’s stay-at-home order, but that could change quickly if visitors don’t abide by safe distancing and other public health guidelines, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Sunday.

The majority of the county’s 70,000 acres of preserves remain accessible, though all public buildings, restrooms, visitor centers and campgrounds are closed. All programming and permitted events have been canceled through May 11, and the forest preserve district’s five nature centers have been temporarily shuttered, officials said.

Preckwinkle said forest preserve staff and police are keeping a close eye on the preserves to make sure people aren’t gathering in groups.

Read more here.

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The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has added the following to their website:

“Buildings, grounds, trails and bathrooms at Nature Centers are closed to the public until May 11.

All public Forest Preserves events are also cancelled until May 11.

This message can be found on the Crabtree Nature Center website here.

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Park districts and forest preserves are facing a coronavirus quandary: They’ve touted the outdoors as a mental boost and antidote to cabin fever, but crowds are still failing to heed public health warnings to practice social distancing.

Those failures have brought more restrictions to outdoor gathering spaces, a crackdown gaining traction after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed the city’s lakefront, 606 trail and Riverwalk.

The Lake County Forest Preserve District is installing more signs with a plea to adhere to social distancing so its properties can stay open.

“Right now, it seems to be OK, but we’re watching it very closely,” Executive Director Ty Kovach said.

Read more here.

Related: Cook County closes Crabtree Nature Center, Horizon Farms

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A Barrington Hills police vehicle outside remained parked outside a home on Old Sutton Road on Sunday morning as investigators continued to search for clues in a deadly shooting there during a house party early Saturday morning. (Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer )

Authorities continue to investigate the fatal shooting of a man killed early Saturday morning during a house party at a rented Barrington Hills home, but they offered no new details about the slaying or the victim’s identity Sunday.

A Barrington Hills police vehicle and a truck from the Cook County Major Case Assistance Team stood guard behind yellow caution tape Sunday morning outside the residence in the 300 block of Old Sutton Road, a secluded area of large homes and sprawling fields.

Officers called to the home at 3:22 a.m. Saturday on a report of shots fired arrived to find the dead man, police said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office on Sunday said the man died from multiple gunshot wounds and ruled his death a homicide,

A preliminary investigation revealed that a large party was being held at the home by people who live outside Barrington Hills and had rented the property on a short-term basis, reportedly through Airbnb.

Read more here.

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Sneak away from the big city for a peaceful stay at ‘Solitude Ranch,’ a vacation rental in Barrington! This ranch is one-of-a-kind, offering 3,567 square feet of space complete with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, an upscale kitchen, sunken den, wall-to-wall windows, and even an indoor pool! When you’re not on the 6.5 acres that overlook a forest preserve and lake, horseback ride at Barrington Hills stables, explore the many local parks, tee off at Makray Course, or take a tour in Place de la Musique!

For more information, click here.

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More than 500 people attended Citizens for Conservation’s harvest fundraiser, Ignite the Night, Sept. 14 in Barrington Hills.

The event at the Barrington Hills Park District featured live music by Beamish, food and beverages, stargazing with professional-grade telescopes, flashlight walks, close-up encounters with raptors, a raffle and horse-drawn wagon rides, all capped by a spectacular bonfire.

Citizens for Conservation hoped to divert as much material from the landfill as possible. Thanks to the assistance of the group Mindful Waste, all packaging used at the event was compostable, recyclable or reusable.

Mindful Waste volunteers were on hand to educate and help with the sorting process, and after recycling 154 pounds of bottles, cans and cardboard; upcycling 11 pounds of plastic film; composting 315 pounds of food waste, paper plates, cups and napkins; and donating 60 pounds of extra corn, only a six-pound bag of landfill waste remained.

All proceeds from the event will support Citizens for Conservation’s preservation and restoration work in the Barrington area. Supporters of the event included the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the Barrington Hills Park District.

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Get outside and walk with us!

Starting at Penny Road Pond in Spring Creek Forest Preserve, Friends of the Forest Preserve staff and local land managers will lead our group through one of Cook County’s most unique grassland preserves. The walk will include information about native plants and wildlife, local hiking opportunities, a brief stop to collect wildflower seeds, and all the beauty of an Illinois prairie!

This walk is approximately 2.5 miles and begins at noon, October 19th. While not a very difficult trip, it will involve a hill and mowed grass trails. Please be prepared with sturdy footwear, long pants, and water bottles.

To register click here, or for more information, please contact Peter Whitney at peter@fotfp.org.

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