Master Plan

We're Planning For the Future


The Forest Preserve District invited DuPage County residents and forest preserve fans to help it determine which projects and initiatives to address over the next five years as part of a master plan. We sent surveys to randomly selected DuPage households, offered an online survey and hosted community meetings. We also accepted comments by email.

Our online survey closed mid-December 2017, and we heard from more than 6,500 individuals.

Our Planning department provided the Board of Commissioners a presentation about gathering input from the public (PDF) in February 2018.  

The department presented its Community Survey and Assessment Summary (PDF) in April 2018. This summary contains results from the surveys and community meetings, which were administered by a consultant. A complete summary of all input gathering activities is compiled in the Community Input Summary (PDF).

Planning provided the Master Plan Analysis (PDF) update in June 2018. This overview includes national trends, state and local priorities, and a peer agency comparison.

A draft of the master plan goals and objectives (PDF) was proposed in July 2018, and the Board of Commissioners approved the goals and objectives in early September 2018.

Staff presented the master plan goals, objectives and tactics, which was approved by the Board of Commissioners on February 12, 2019.


Master Plan Goals, Objectives and Tactics

Approved February 12, 2019 

Goal 1: Preserve, protect and restore open spaces

Objective 1.1 Allocate additional resources to maintain existing high-quality natural areas and create new ones

Tactic 1.1a Focus on priority projects that will have the greatest positive effects on natural areas

Tactic 1.1b Use volunteer support to restore natural areas

Tactic 1.1c Focus law enforcement training and responsibilities on protecting high-quality natural areas

Tactic 1.1d Continue to reduce mowed turf areas by converting them into natural ones

Objective 1.2  Promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species

Tactic 1.2a Continue to propagate threatened and endangered species, partnering with organizations where appropriate

Tactic 1.2b Provide the public with information on threatened and endangered species and related recovery programs and integrate that information into educational programs

Tactic 1.2c Increase efforts to find and record threatened and endangered species in new locations

Tactic 1.2d Maximize existing and pursue additional laboratory space available for the species recovery program

Objective 1.3  Collaborate with other organizations to further countywide restoration of natural areas

Tactic 1.3a Pursue partnerships and agreements with government agencies, advocacy groups and other organizations to restore natural areas and promote the importance of restoration efforts

Tactic 1.3b Pursue management partnerships with organizations that neighbor the forest preserves

Tactic 1.3c Pursue partnerships that create stewardship sites suitable for long-term management by volunteers 

Tactic 1.3d Communicate with landowners adjacent to the forest preserves to promote the fact that flora, fauna and hydrologic systems do not have boundaries

Objective 1.4 Focus future potential land-acquisition efforts on high-quality natural areas from willing sellers      

Tactic 1.4a Identify and characterize all public land and privately held natural areas

Tactic 1.4b Create a new framework for evaluation

Tactic 1.4c Formulate a new acquisition strategy

Goal 2: Help people cultivate a lifelong enthusiasm for nature by offering meaningful, first-rate outdoor recreation and learning experiences

Objective 2.1 Improve the preserve experience by modernizing amenities

Tactic 2.1a Develop a plan that identifies new and refurbished amenities and ones to be removed

Tactic 2.1b Provide new amenities for convenience or comfort

Objective 2.2  Create trail links that connect key recreational sites and regional trails to major residential, commercial and institutional areas

Tactic 2.2a Develop an overarching vision for the Forest Preserve District’s trail system

Tactic 2.2b Create a trail plan that identifies and prioritizes opportunities for trail connections, partnerships and funding

Objective 2.3 Complement and expand existing recreational offerings with increasing participation rates and more social interaction

Tactic 2.3a Increase and improve places for water-based activities, where appropriate

Tactic 2.3b  Improve existing campgrounds

Tactic 2.3c  Develop agreements with other organizations to deliver recreational programs to an expanded audience 

 Tactic 2.3d Use nontraditional buildings as centers for educational nature programs and for expanded, more diverse recreational activities 

 Tactic 2.3e Develop a special needs recreational plan

Objective 2.4  Enhance and promote unstructured nature exploration

Tactic 2.4a  Develop web content and signs to support the value of unstructured outdoor play 

Tactic 2.4b Explore options for creating designated nature play spaces in the preserves

 Tactic 2.4c Promote the forest preserve system as a destination for nature play 

Goal 3: Improve preserves to increase access, use, efficiency and productivity

Objective 3.1 Improve education centers and recreational sites

Tactic 3.1a Evaluate existing plans for education centers and recreational sites to capitalize on opportunities and remedy deficiencies

Tactic 3.1b Create a comprehensive identification, regulatory, wayfinding and interpretive sign plan

Tactic 3.1c Develop a vision and plan to renew exhibits at the education centers 

Objective 3.2 Evaluate and invest in maintenance and operations buildings as well as infrastructure

Tactic 3.2a Make structures more energy efficient

Tactic 3.2b Improve program support buildings and structures to increase efficiencies

Tactic 3.2c Manage nonlandfill-related disturbed areas and regional infrastructure obligations (dams, storm sewers, detention basins, reservoirs, etc.)

Objective 3.3 Modify forest preserve facilities to accommodate a diverse range of users

Tactic 3.3a Update ADA Transition Plan and identify priorities, schedules and required resources

Tactic 3.3b Provide amenities for people with special needs

Objective 3.4  Maintain environmental protections at landfill sites and implement compatible uses for related open spaces when feasible

Tactic 3.4a Protect human health and the environment at the landfills by effectively managing leachate, landfill gases and cover systems

Tactic 3.4b Prepare long-term maintenance and end-use plans for each landfill
Tactic 3.4c Prepare a feasibility study of recreational opportunities for each site

Tactic 3.4d Complete required tasks for projects under regulatory oversight

Tactic 3.4e Provide annual reports for each landfill

Goal 4: Refocus resources by reducing infrastructures and tasks not related to the mission

Objective 4.1 Evaluate and eliminate infrastructures and buildings that do not actively support significant operations

Tactic 4.1a Inventory and evaluate all nonhistoric buildings and create an end-use plan for each

Tactic 4.1b Prepare annual reports on all Forest Preserve District–owned,
–operated or –leased buildings and facilities

Tactic 4.1c Evaluate land holdings and identify ways to reduce nonmission-driven maintenance and operations at each

Tactic 4.1d Evaluate infrastructures and eliminate or re-tool surpluses to minimize maintenance and operations

Objective 4.2 Reevaluate operations to increase efficiency and productivity and to reduce the maintenance of areas not critical to the mission

Tactic 4.2a Explore cooperative agreements to increase efficiency, productivity and reduce maintenance

Tactic 4.2b Increase or reconfigure deficient parking areas and remove or re-purpose surplus ones

Tactic 4.2c Re-evaluate standard design guidelines and modify to balance cost, benefits, aesthetics and energy efficiencies

Tactic 4.2d Continue using procedures and technologies to find or increase efficiencies that improve productivity

Tactic 4.2e Develop a long-term maintenance plan to address building and facility deficiencies that identifies priorities, schedules, funding strategies and needed resources

Tactic 4.2f Create a storage plan that consolidates items in storage and eliminates buildings where appropriate

Tactic 4.2g Re-evaluate, modify and develop maintenance standards based on use, visibility and cost

Objective 4.3  Refine programs to reflect the Forest Preserve District’s mission, research in natural resources and expertise

Tactic 4.3a Increase STEM program presence within local and regional learning communities

Tactic 4.3b Eliminate or refocus programs also offered by neighboring agencies or groups

Tactic 4.3c Partner with local park districts and businesses to offer recreational and learning programs

Tactic 4.3d Evaluate programs at Willowbrook Wildlife Center to refocus them on the rehabilitation of conservative, rare or less-common species, not common, overpopulated or invasive ones

Tactic 4.3e Increase the number of nature-based programs at the golf preserves

Objective 4.4  Evaluate and make recommendations for historic holdings

Tactic 4.4a For each historic holding, assess its value to the Forest Preserve District’s mission; the effects of its projected revenues and maintenance and operations costs; and any interest it receives from support groups

Tactic 4.4b Re-evaluate and propose changes to the Policy for the Management of Historical and Cultural Resources to define a decision-making process

Tactic 4.4c Identify and evaluate structures over 50 years old and develop an end-use goal for each

Goal 5: Foster community engagement and increase awareness of the Forest Preserve District

Objective 5.1 Engage and seek continual feedback from the public and internal and external stakeholders

Tactic 5.1a Foster community engagement by being a leader in the restoration of natural resources, protection of open space and preservation of native wildlife

Tactic 5.1b Expand and evolve use of social media

Tactic 5.1c Explore and implement new technologies to enhance audience insights and communicate with visitors

Tactic 5.1d Annually share the progress of the master plan with internal and external stakeholders

Tactic 5.1e Increase dialog between the Forest Preserve District and the public about on successes, initiatives, ongoing projects and public safety

Tactic 5.1f Give greater weight to projects that affect the public most when considering major changes or expenditures

Tactic 5.1g Host meetings with key communicator groups to cultivate relationships

Tactic 5.1h Increase the presence and visibility of staff at Forest Preserve District and community events and in professional organizations

Objective 5.2 Evaluate marketing strategies and promote consistent branding

Tactic 5.2a Evaluate the cost, use and effectiveness of printed materials

Tactic 5.2b Employ creative marketing campaigns and methods

Tactic 5.2c Use web analytics to reorganize website content based on viewership and evaluate new ways to present printed content online

Tactic 5.2d Conduct communication surveys for all stakeholders

Tactic 5.2e Promote and package fee-based, instructor-led experiences

Tactic 5.2f Explore ways to engage culturally diverse audiences

Goal 6: Use effective and innovative methods to execute the master plan while continuing on sound financial footing

Objective 6.1 Develop a long-term financial plan consistent with funding availability and financial projections to implement the master plan

Tactic 6.1a Seek alternative sources of revenue

Tactic 6.1b Continue responsible spending

Tactic 6.1c Update the Capital Improvement Plan

Tactic 6.1d Establish a dedicated fund for building and infrastructure maintenance

Tactic 6.1e Annually re-assess the amount of funds needed to cover landfill maintenance and potential future liabilities

Tactic 6.1f Minimize the reliance on landfill interest earnings to subsidize the annual operating budget

Tactic 6.1g Utilize existing bond fund proceeds and consider reasonable and responsible issuance of new debt to fund major capital and natural-resource-management projects when appropriate to achieve objectives

Tactic 6.1h Develop strategies to use future golf operations profits and landfill interest earnings to supplement capital and natural-resource-management initiatives

Tactic 6.1i Consider cost recoveries and effects on the public, operations and maintenance when prioritizing projects

Objective 6.2 Formulate short-term financial plans that incrementally implement master plan goals

Tactic 6.2a Create and approve three-year budgets that take master plan priorities into consideration

Objective 6.3 Monitor the implementation of master plan goals

Tactic 6.3a Revisit plan goals regularly to remain focused on priority projects

Tactic 6.3b Recognizing the dynamic nature of outside funding opportunities, reprioritize master plan initiatives as needed

Tactic 6.3c Use a tracking mechanism to measure performance against approved goals and regularly update commissioners and senior staff