The Case for Plan C at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

Plan C is a citizen-based initiative to provide an alternative to the ill-conceived Concept Plans A & B being advanced by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

What is exceptionally appealing about Plan C is that it is the only option that has a proven track record of success. Plan C is close to the status quo of what the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is today and has been for the last 3 years. And this has proven to be a very popular and huge success. Plan C builds on that success. It needs your support.

Plan C Supports Public Access & Grassland Habitat

Plan C Map of Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
Plan C retains the 80 car parking lot and the successful grassland habitat. Click to download & view the larger PDF image.

Principal tenets of Plan C

  • Retain the existing 80 car parking lot.

The existing hard-pack 80 car parking lot enables centralized walking access for the elderly, handicap and families with young children to the lake, southern ravines as well as the grassland trails. Citizen-collected data indicates that an 80-car parking lot meets the parking needs of the Preserve more than 90% of the time. LCFPD has no data on parking requirements. Their plans are based on guesses and political objectives.

  • Maintain the grasslands.

The successful grasslands are home to nesting grassland birds, species whose numbers have diminished largely due to loss of habitat. Plan C also supports additional study prior to any consequential negative impact. Additionally the open space panoramic prairie view is one of the favorite features of the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve with visitors. All LCFPD data has been provided by citizen scientists. They have no data of their own on the success of this grassland.

  • Plant trees along the western end of Fort Sheridan.

This will help deaden the traffic noise from Sheridan Road and block the visual sightline of buildings and traffic for those in the Preserve thereby improving the natural environment experience.

  • Plant new trees in existing stands where trees are in decline.

Rejuvenate existing wooded areas that have been diminished through natural events and the absence of proactive management.

  • Proceed with proposed Parade Ground enhancements.

Plan C supports both Concept A & B proposals to naturalize the perimeter of the historic Parade Grounds as well as to complete the walking trail loop

  • Improve picnic area in the existing main parking lot.

Provide picnic areas near the parking and restroom facilities.

  • Upgrade toilets in the existing main parking lot.

Replace existing portable toilets with evaporator type toilets and locate near existing main parking lot and near Cemetery parking lot.

  • Add platform for Natural Viewing Area & Hawk Watch.

Build a permanent platform near the existing main parking lot in cooperation with the nascent Hawk Watch station.

  • Add two additional litter stations for dogs.

Enhance dog management by adding on-leash signage and dog waste stations near the main parking lot and the Cemetery parking lot.

Plan C Addresses Management Issues

Plan C is also the only option that explicitly recognizes the problems that have emerged at the Preserve and need to be addressed. These include:

  • Unauthorized entry to Lake Michigan along the non-swimming lakeshore
  • Degradation of the bluff due to off-trail foot traffic
  • Identification and preservation of plants of concern
Identification and Protection of Plants of Concern

The Preserve is fortunate to be host to several plants of concern. These plants and their habitats will be identified, cordoned off, labeled. Educational programming is proposed to draw attention to these plants and encourage their preservation and continued development consistent with the LCFPD 100-year Vision to restore the area to ecological health.

Bluff Protection

There are multiple bluff protection strategies that can be deployed individually or in combination. These include:

  • Nature-scaping the bluff with shrubs that deter foot traffic,
  • Signage at the bottom & top of the bluff  identifying the threat to the bluff
  • Physical restraints such as roping the area
Lakeshore Management

Lakeshore management is a seasonal enforcement matter. Prominent signage, assessment of fines and periodic enforcement sweeps along the lakeshore at strategic times will send the message that this shoreline is not for public swimming.

Plan C Needs Your Active Support

Tell the Lake County Forest Preserve that your support Plan C by going to their website and submitting your comments on their form. It does NOT matter if you are a Lake County resident or not. Please share your opinion.

Tell them you support:

1. Retaining pubic access and the existing 80 car parking

2. Retaining the successful and popular grassland habitat

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6 thoughts on “The Case for Plan C at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

  1. If you really want to keep people away from the beach the only way you will ever succeed is to detonate a bomb on the shoreline there and the fear of unknown explosives must be published.

    Also God seems to be taking care of this beach access issue for you. I was just there yesterday July 25, 2015 and noticed significant eroding of the beach area. This is also a perspective from visiting there year round for the past 6 years. The home owners should be warned and prepare to prevent the lake engulfing there yards next year.

    Otherwise the beautiful grass lands, thriving community of birds, dragonflies, and God’s gorgeous views of the lake will keep calling nature lovers to this location.

    I will be sad and hope you do not throw away the gift of the thriving grasslands by filling it with trees.

    Also we all know when it comes to nature God is the ultimate designer. Be aware of the eroding shore line or you will be wasting good money in an futile attempt to change the landscape.

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    1. Hi Jean,

      Thanks so much for your comment. We are on the same page. It is VERY important that you express your sentiment to the Lake County Forest Preserve District. Much more important than posting a comment on this blog.

      Although the County does not have a publcly approved plan and sentiment is running heavily against their actions, they have already committed our tax dollars and entered into contracts to plant trees on the prairie. Unless there is more vocal opposition, this will begin in October, 2015. Also, they intend to close the parking lots and move them to less accessible locations. That is their very clear intention unless people speak up. Please do. Write the following people: AMaine@lakecountyil.gov and akovach@lcfpd.org and express the very thoughts you have written here.

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  2. trying to post in support of plan c, but site states “topic is now closed.” thought this was open until midnight tonight. any info?

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