I want to strongly encourage all Cook County voters to support the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Wildlife Habitat Protection Referendum for the Forest Preserves of Cook County on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The Forest Preserves were founded more than 100 years ago and, in that time, have provided our urban area the opportunity to have so many meaningful experiences with nature close to home. If not for the foresight of those in the past, much of the land would have been developed into commercial enterprises. Instead, we have a network of wonderful places throughout the area that add meaning and joy to our often chaotic lives.

How many families have benefited from taking their children to the forest preserves to learn about nature and see the beauty of nature firsthand? How many have learned from treasures like the Little Red School House and Trailside Museum? How many have enjoyed programs like the Family Pond Paddle? How many have benefited from a hike in the woods when solitude was needed to take a break from problems in their lives? There is something for everyone at the Cook County Forest Preserves.

Few people realize that the Brookfield Zoo is on Forest Preserve land and will benefit from a successful referendum. This local treasure needs urgent repairs to buildings, stormwater and irrigation systems, installation of new walkways and more. Brookfield Zoo has provided an opportunity for families to connect with wildlife and nature and learn the valuable lessons of conservation.

The Botanic Garden is on Forest Preserve land and would benefit from a successful referendum as well. Plants are an integral part of life on Earth and families need to be educated on the beauty of all life.

How much would this cost taxpayers? The increase for an average homeowner would be less than $20 a year, or about a dollar and a half per month. I, for one, think this would be money well spent, and strongly encourage all Cook County voters to support the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Wildlife Habitat Protection Referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Carol Raske
Oak Park

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