To fully engage the public and restore the land, the Forest Preserves must have more financial resources. Other forest preserve districts in northeastern Illinois counties invest more per acre and per capita in their land. And our property tax contributions in Cook County don’t measure up—per person or per acre—to the amounts neighboring counties devote to their preserves. The Forest Preserves’ track record of relatively low taxes, conservative spending and light debt load position them well to consider measures that will increase revenues.
Conservation management is a complex and long-term activity. Restoration investments made today will require continuous conservation expertise to pay off in the future. The president and board have an opportunity now to make systemic changes that can enable the forest preserves to flourish for many decades to come. But in order for the public to feel confident that a long-term investment will pay off with significant habitat and quality-of-life benefits, the Forest Preserves needs the advice and active participation of skilled conservation leaders who have a singular focus on the long-term ecological and financial health of the forest preserves.
SHOW ME THE GOALS & PROGRESS
Visionary conservation leaders will safeguard, expand and bring increased resources to the Forest Preserves.
Thanks to recent reforms and thoughtful leadership, the Forest Preserves’ operational efficiency is increasing. But to achieve this plan’s ambitious goals for a vibrant future, the agency needs additional resources and expert guidance.
GOAL 4 Priorities
MANAGE WITH EXCELLENCE, TRANSPARENCY AND SOUND FINANCIAL PRACTICE.
Use metrics and evaluation to align operations with plan and measure progress
Align annual budget and performance evaluation with NCCP goals
These efforts will be completed in 2016.
PROVIDE ENDURING, FOCUSED CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP AND INCREASED ACCOUNTABILITY.
Provide continuous conservation leadership
Launch the “Conservation and Policy Council”
The Council was established by ordinance in 2014 and convened in 2015. It will continue to meet through 2016.
MAXIMIZE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE RESOURCES AND USE THEM WISELY TO ACHIEVE THE VISION FOR FUTURE GROWTH AND RESTORATION.
Expand non-tax resources
Launch a major fundraising campaign
Planning has begun, and the campaign will launch in 2016.
Complete a districtwide concessions master plan
This plan will be completed in 2016.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO INVEST IN THE FOREST PRESERVES
The Forest Preserves is in a good position to prepare a responsible financial plan to raise the funds needed to accomplish this vision. Compared to preserves in neighboring counties, total revenues are low, both per capita and per acre.
For example, this graph shows that Cook County’s taxpayers devote a much smaller share of their tax bill to their forest preserves than other counties.