CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Forest Preserves of Cook County announced Thursday a series of changes to coincide with the move to Phase Three of the Restore Illinois plan.
Created in consultation with the Cook County Department of Public Health and informed by discussions with state and local officials and other local forest preserves, the policies reopen many amenities within the latest COVID-19 health guidelines.
“I am glad that conditions in our region are allowing us to increase access to the preserves and what they offer. This is a step toward returning to more of what people expect and enjoy in the Forest Preserves, even though we’re far from being back to business as usual,” said Arnold Randall, the general superintendent of the Forest Preserves, in a statement.
Starting June 4, the Forest Preserves will reopen camping at four of its five campgrounds in a limited capacity - at Camp Reinberg, Camp Sullivan, Camp Shabbona Woods and Camp Bullfrog Lake - from Thursday through Sunday for tents and cabins and throughout the week for RVs.
All 10 golf courses are open with the extended Phase Three state rules for play in effect, and the three Forest Preserves off-leash dog areas are scheduled to reopen on June 6.
The Forest Preserves is also scheduled to reopen its Rolling Knolls disc golf course on June 12, and the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course with ziplining will open with modified operations for COVID-19 on June 13.
Busse Lake Boating Center will re-open on Mondays and Thursdays with limited rental capacity, and starting June 8, Maple Lake Boating Center is open for concessions only, Monday through Thursday. Volunteer activities for groups up to 10 participants are being reinstated.
Due to ongoing concerns about crowding, shared surfaces, and physical distancing, some limitations remain in effect, the Forest Preserves said in a statement. Ongoing closures include Forest Preserves public buildings, Nature Center buildings and grounds, aquatic centers, and the Swallow Cliff stairs. Weekend parking closures at six preserves will continue, as well. Public restrooms are closed, and picnic tables are not in commission. Visitors cannot bring in grills or coolers, or set up sports equipment like goals, nets or cones.
“When the weather turns warm, it might feel like any other summertime trip to the preserves. But we need you to arrive prepared for the 2020 world. Check our website to be sure your destination is open, and consider visiting a new location that is less popular. Time your visit knowing that our public restrooms are closed. Bring a mask. Remember that you must physical distance from people who don’t live in your household,” General Superintendent Randall said, in a statement. “I promise we are working to open as much as we can. Please help us by helping to keep the key indicators for COVID-19 trending down.”
For updated information on site closures, event cancellations, a list of recommended visitor precautions, and more, visit the Forest Preserves COVID-19 web page.