Updated: March 1, 2013 9:20AM
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is looking for suggestions from the public about how to improve its services to the community in the months ahead. To further that aim, District 5 held a public forum Wednesday night at the Naperville Municipal Center so that ideas about the future direction for the District could be shared.
Commissioner for District 5 Mary Lou Wehrli said that a meeting scheduled next month for March 12 for all six Forest Preserve District Commissioners was the trigger for the forum she organized Wednesday.
“It’s the Naperville way when there is information to share and input needed to have a public forum, so I wanted to offer this opportunity for people to get educated about the District as well as hear the ideas people here have,” she said. “As far as my own ideas about the District, I feel there has been a lot accomplished in the past few years, but there are things like the Oak Cottage and the Barn located at Hobson and Greene Road that are very much on my radar.”
Wehrli said that a number of policies and plans need updating as well including the District’s policies related to historic structures, which dates back to 1986. The strategic plan also needs an update, she said.
“These meetings are a two-way street in that they allow us to educated people but also learn about and share ideas we can bring back to our March 12 meeting,” she said.
The six districts that make up the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County manage over 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands, wetlands and facilities. District 5 is located in the southwest corner of the county and includes Springbrook Prairie, Country Lakes, Egermann Woods, McDowell Grove, Night Heron Marsh forest preserves as well as a
number of preserves jointly-owned with the Naperville Park District including Burlington Park, Pioneer Park, Goodrich Woods, and West Branch Riverway.
Director of planning for the Naperville Park District Eric Shutes appeared Wednesday night and said “there is strong communication between the Park and Forest Preserve Districts.
“The ‘Riverway’ trail was a significant joint project that involves both Districts as well as the city of Naperville and has provided a huge linkage,” Shutes said. “Looking to the future, there are no imminent projects, but there is still land of the Forest Preserve District that we maintain and we want to be good stewards.”
Naperville resident Joe Suchecki was one of the first to arrive Wednesday. A volunteer steward at Springbrook Prairie, Suchecki clearly had a vested interest in the District’s future, given that he has volunteered for the past 18 years.
“I do a lot of work with vegetation management and my feeling is that there should be an emphasis on ecological restoration,” he said. “We always are in need of that and I also feel that an educational component about wildlife and our natural resources is necessary.”
Win Wehrli, brother of Mary Lou Wehrli, appeared Wednesday as a member of the Westside Homeowners Association and said that he believes the future of the Forest Preserve lies in maintaining its transparency.
“One of the things I’ve learned during the last campaign was that all of the actions here need to be open to the public,” he said. “I’m not saying that they haven’t been but the District fulfills a lot of important functions and services. We need the Forest Preserve District to continue to reconnect people here with the environment and the services that are good for the county.”
Those unable to attend the meeting and wishing to offer feedback may do some by visiting the District on line at www.dupageforest.com or call District 5 Commissioner Wehrli at 630-420-2282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org