Openlands Helps to Interpret Forest Preserve Sites

February 20, 2014

In partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Openlands is developing a new model for interpreting native landscapes to be piloted at Deer Grove East and the Tinley Creek Wetlands and Bartel Grasslands. Openlands’ design “toolkit” includes interpretive elements ranging from site maps and freestanding signage to earthen berms and trail bridges, all of which are adaptable to multiple settings and impose minimal impact on the landscape. Through the design and implementation of these interpretive features, Openlands hopes to engage visitors in the landscape while revealing the products and benefits of restoration.

The interpretive plan also includes electronic media, which will provide off-site visitors with supplementary information on the history and wildlife of each preserve. Seasonal field guides will reveal which birds, plants, and other wildlife one can expect to find at either preserve. Interpretive applications will also suggest games for families and thematic walks to enhance visitors’ interaction with each other and the landscape. Currently, Openlands is finalizing the design work and bid specifications for the interpretive model, which will be implemented at Deer Grove East and at Tinley Creek-Bartel Grasslands beginning this year. As a model for future interpretive installments, Openlands’ design toolkit will provide the Forest Preserves of Cook County with a means to effectively engage the public in the restoration and stewardship of natural landscapes.

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