Illinois state Sen. Bill Cunningham is among the sponsors of a proposed law that could help Cook County acquire more land in the suburban forest preserves.
The bill proposes to grant the Cook County Forest Preserve District the power to acquire land by easement, which would enable the district to enter into voluntary agreements with businesses, utilities and local governments to acquire open land that could be incorporated into the forest preserves.
Under existing state law, every other forest preserve district in Illinois can acquire land by easement, but Cook County has to purchase any land it acquires. Such a mandate creates higher costs for tax payers and limits the expansion of the Cook County Forest Preserves, Cunningham stated in a press release. The proposed law would enable the county to expand the preserves at virtually no cost, he added.
“Cook County is one of the most urbanized counties in the nation, “ Cunningham stated. “With this legislation, there will be a stronger effort to create and preserve open space. Protecting and expanding Forest Preserves and park land will always be among my top priorities in the General Assembly.”
The 18th Senate district stretches across the southwest suburbs and southwest side of Chicago, and includes some of Cook County’s largest tracks of forest preserve in Palos and Orland townships.