The Forest Preserve District of Will County has extended its facility closures and program cancellations through April 30 as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic and the recent update to the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Facility and site closures
All visitor centers, including the District’s Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet, preserve parking lots, dog parks and latrines will remain closed until further notice.
Boating and kayaking/canoeing
The launching of boats will not be allowed until the preserve parking areas reopen. Kayaking/canoeing is not allowed at this time due to the closure of the parking lots and for safety reasons due to limited police patrols.
All public programs and volunteer workdays are canceled through April 30; registrants will be notified.
All permits have been canceled through April 30 for picnicking, camping and events. No future permit reservations can be placed until further notice.
Trails and preserves remain open to local visitors
Trails will remain open as long as they can be accessed safely on foot or by bicycle and people continue to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet as recommended by health authorities. Groups cannot gather in numbers larger than 10 and they will be cited by police if they do so.
Shoreline fishing allowed
Shoreline fishing is allowed (in areas where this activity is not prohibited by signage) as long as social distancing is practiced.
Police ticket payments
During this time period, police tickets can be paid by mail. Send payments to: Forest Preserve Police, 22606 S. Cherry Hill Road, Joliet IL 60434. Or they can be paid at the police vestibule drop box at that location from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Ring the call button if assistance is needed.
Flatten the curve
The Forest Preserve District’s facility closures and program cancellations have been enacted to reduce the number of visitors to preserves and trails during the new coronavirus pandemic. We are urging people to stay home and if they want to access a trail or preserve near their homes, to do so only by foot or bike and to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet as recommended by health authorities.
Preserve parking lots are closed to discourage people from congregating in the preserves and at trailheads and to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A spike in cases will overwhelm healthcare centers and workers (which is already happening in Illinois) and more people could die.
We are taking all of these actions to help “flatten the curve” to keep members of the public and Forest Preserve frontline staff healthy and safe.
Stay close to home
We believe the stay-at-home order should be taken seriously and we are acting in accordance with state and federal guidelines relating to social distancing and our government’s pleas for people to stay at home. Please do not drive long distances and park in neighborhoods or along busy streets to try to access Will County preserves. You are only putting yourselves and others in danger.
“In the best interests of everyone, stay close to home,” urged Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve District’s chief operating officer. "Be close to those who need you the most and try to appreciate the nature that exists all around you. We will reopen all of our visitor centers and preserve access areas as soon as state and health officials deem your risk of infection from COVID-19 has subsided."
Members of the public can contact the Forest Preserve by calling 815.727.8700 or by filling out a Contact Us form.
For more coronavirus information and assistance
For information on the new coronavirus in Will County, visit this website or call the Will County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, 815.740.8977, which is operational from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
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