If you’re a regular preserve visitor, there are plenty of things you can do — big and small — to keep these public spaces free of trash. One easy way to make sure anything you bring into the preserves doesn’t end up as litter is to adopt the pack it in, pack it out philosophy.
Quite simply, whatever you bring into the preserves you should bring out. If you packed a picnic lunch, pack up all your waste to dispose of at home. If you packed a backpack with some drinks and snacks for a long walk or hike, make sure the drink containers and any food wrappers make the trip home with you to be thrown away. If pack it in, pack it out isn’t an option, make sure to place all your trash in a trash can at the preserve.
Of course, this pack it in, pack it out philosophy applies to any public spaces you visit, not just the preserves. Packing a lunch for a trip to your neighborhood playground? Pack it in, pack it out. Visiting a state park for a long hike? Pack it in, pack it out. Taking a trip to a national park? Pack it in, pack it out.
If there’s a preserve that’s special to you, or one close to your home or neighborhood that you think can use a helping hand to keep it clean, consider adopting it through our Adopt a Preserve program. Through the program, community groups, families and even individuals can adopt a preserve or trail section and commit to spending time each month to keep it clean.
Adopt a Preserve participants go through Forest Preserve volunteer training and commit to spending four hours per month working in their adopted area. That four hours is total for the group, so two people spending two hours each or four people spending one hour each on cleanup duty fulfills the requirement. After a three-month commitment, a sign can be installed in the adopted preserve or trail honoring the group’s or individual’s commitment.
If you have a group that would like to help with a cleanup in a less formal way, that’s an option as well. Groups of about 15 or more, including school groups, community groups and even family groups, can contact volunteer services supervisor Emily Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about setting up a cleanup day at one of our preserves or along one of our trails.
Anglers can help us keep preserves clean and safe for wildlife by always properly disposing of their used fishing line. The District provides monofilament recycling containers at several of its premier fishing spots. If there isn’t a container handy, make sure to cut your line into short pieces, about 6 inches to 12 inches long, before placing it in a trash can with a tight-fitting lid. If possible, take your line with you to recycle later.
The Forest Preserve District also regularly holds “Fishing for Trash” programs throughout the warmer months at Monee Reservoir. Through the program, visitors can get a pair of gloves and a bag from the concession window and then pick up any trash they find during their visit. When the bag of trash is turned in, participants receive a token gift.
You can take the idea of “Fishing for Trash” a step further by bringing along gloves and a bag on your next walk or hike and picking up any trash you find along the way.
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