I, too, have a dream. However, it’s probably more appropriate to call it a vision of what the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve should become. Having worked together with hundreds of others to reach this point where we might plan for the future of the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, we have an interest in seeing it developed for the remarkable and unique resource that it is. Here is a first cut at what that plan might be.
The Lake County Forest Preserves District is embarking on a plan for improvements and management of the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. With the cooperation of multiple individuals, we have endeavored to draft a compelling vision for the preserve that optimizes its value to each of its stakeholders including its residential neighbors, nearby communities, adjacent land uses and land owners and all Lake County residents.
This vision incorporates Fort Sheridan’s history and its location on land having rare and unique attributes.
- Showcase its unique natural features including
- Lakefront bluff
- Prairie grassland and savanna
- Cultivate a vibrant & protected grassland bird habitat
- Identify & protect environmentally sensitive areas
- Manage land subject to ecological criteria
- Provide an amenity to Lake County and the Town of Fort Sheridan
- Respect and relate to its adjacent land uses
- Contribute to the well-being of Lake Michigan
III. Criteria, Constraints & Opportunities
Decisions about Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve should be based on the following criteria, constraints and opportunities including:
- Geography – physical features and relationship to land use at its boundaries
- Flora & Fauna – existing and desired
- Public Use – permitted, facilitated and excluded
III. a. Geography
The Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is part of a network of publicly accessible land. It must be managed consistent with the overall land use and environmental well-being of the entire area, not merely the land owned by the Forest Preserve. This requires communication and coordination with other entities.
Proximate land in conservation includes the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve on the south and Lake Forest’s McCormick Woods on the north. Together this public land makes up hundreds of acres of forest, savannah, prairie grassland and over 2 miles of Lake Michigan lakefront and bluff.
- Prairie grassland, Oak Savannah, Ravines
- Prime nesting for grassland birds
- Non-motorized user access
- Restoration to pre-settlement condition – probably Oak/Hickory Savanna
- Ecologically correct biodiversity
- Identification and protection of ecologically sensitive areas
III. a. 1. Lakefront
- Manage lakefront access
- Passive use – dog walking, hiking, sun bathing
- Stormwater effluent/water quality management
- Bluff preservation, erosion management and restoration
III. a. 2. Cemetery
- Adjacent land use consistent with the dignity and quiet of the cemetery
- Connection of cemetery (open gate) to adjacent forest preserve perhaps with trails and areas for repose
III. a. 3. Openlands/McCormick Woods/Town of Fort Sheridan
- Consistent and seamless integration with adjacent land use and land development
- Remove barbed wire fence on north side of Ft. Sheridan
- Coordination with Lake Forest on trails and paths between Fort Sheridan and McCormick Woods
- Parking & traffic management
III. a. 4. Historic Ft. Sheridan residential/Parade Grounds
- Surrounded by residences of the historic Town of Fort Sheridan, the Parade Ground should be managed to complement the residential neighborhood.
- Passive use
- Planting to minimize lawn cutting/maintenance requirements
- Water retention/stormwater management
IV. Flora & Fauna
- Audit environmentally important areas (nesting areas, Red-headed woodpecker habitat, etc.)
- Management to insure sustainability of important areas
- Planting to encourage likely/desired animal species habitation
V. Public Use
- Passive Recreation
- Walking, dog walking, running, biking (dedicated areas only)
- Designated picnic areas (near each parking lot)
- Restrooms – off existing parking lots
- Transparent planning and implementation process and calendar
- Creation of Citizen Advisory Committee (Friends of Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve)
- Ongoing management plan
- Allocation of budget
This vision is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Lake County Forest Preserve District. It is for discussion only.
Comments are encouraged.