Background and History
The Forest Preserve District of Will County was created by referendum on July 25, 1927, to preserve the County's fast-dwindling wilderness and open spaces for the benefit of future generations.
We are a separate, legal entity and taxing body with boundaries coterminous with those of the County of Will. In accordance with the Statutes of the State of Illinois, the affairs of the Forest Preserve District are managed by a Board of Commissioners
, who are also the current County Board members.
Use of owned lands are governed by Illinois Compiled Statutes and by Ordinances, Rules, and Regulations of the District. Download our General Use Regulations (Ordinance No. 124).
Our first acquisition was a portion of Messenger Woods
in 1930; by the end of 2014, 21,807 acres of land were owned, leased, or managed by the Forest Preserve District.
In the current climate of rapid urbanization of Will County, open land preservation is all the more difficult and all the more important.
Will County voters approved two referendum initiatives for the Forest Preserve District in 1999 and 2005, providing $165 million to the District, with $132 million going toward land preservation and $33 million devoted to site improvements. With these funds, we have acquired more than 8,600 acres of land in the past decade.
Among the site improvements funded by the referenda have been complete renovations of Plum Creek Nature Center
and Isle a la Cache Museum
, the expansion of our trail system to more than 120 total miles, and the development of the 80-acre Whalon Lake
The result has been that communities from Naperville to Beecher have benefited with increased preserved open space and amenities that have attracted tens of thousands to Will County forest preserves.Organizational Structure
The Forest Preserve District is led by an Executive Director who reports to the 26-member Board of Commissioners
. The Executive Director oversees four distinct divisions: Administration and Finance, Planning and Operations, Public Affairs and Education, and Law Enforcement.Administration and Finance
Administered by the Director of Administration and Finance, this Division includes the Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Volunteer Offices.
The Finance Office is responsible for our accounting, paying of bills, investments, and payroll. Learn more about the District's finances.
The Human Resources Office assists employees with insurance and workman's compensation claims, keeps track of personnel records, and assists employees with health and retirement benefits. Learn more about employment with the District.
The Information Technology Office coordinates the maintenance of our computer and phone systems.
The Volunteer Office provides information to potential volunteers, trains new volunteers as required, and supervises volunteer activities. Learn more about volunteering with the District.
Planning and Operations
Administered by the Director of Planning and Operations, this Division consists of the Planning and Development Department and the Operations Department.
The Planning and Development Department identifies properties suitable for preservation, negotiates with landowners, creates and implements plans for preserve improvements and developments, coordinates land restoration activities, maintains property records, and oversees property boundaries. Learn more about the District's land preservation and improvement projects
or land management activities
The Operations Department cares for our preserves with grass cutting, cleanup, and general maintenance to all preserve roadways, trails, structures, and landscaping, and maintains our fleet of vehicles and power equipment.Public Affairs and Education
Administered by the Director of Public Affairs and Education, this Division is responsible for customer service, marketing, and public and educational programs.
The Public Affairs Department creates all of our publications and promotional pieces, handles customer inquiries, communicates with the media, coordinates preserve grand openings and District special events, cultivates partnership opportunities, oversees our Web site, and issues permits at the Sugar Creek Administration Center
. Learn more about special events
, partnership opportunities
, or permit issuance
The Public Programs and Education Department plans and provides all public programs, staffs our auxiliary Visitor Centers
, and works with school groups to provide educational programs and activities. Learn more about public programs
or educational offerings
.Law EnforcementThe Forest Preserve District has its own police force, which is overseen by the Chief of Police and is made up of state-certified police officers who are also trained in conservation law. Our police patrol the forest preserves and offer assistance to preserve users. In addition to ensuring that the preserves remain safe, our police also investigate illegal activities in the preserves such as hunting, trapping, boundary encroachments, and trespassing by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles. Learn more about reporting a safety concern.
Photographs Courtesy of Glenn P. Knoblock