All Forest Preserve District of Will County preserve access area parking lots and dog parks will close as of sunset Saturday through April 7 due to the stay-at-home mandate issued Friday, March 20, by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic.
Trails will remain open as long as they can be accessed safely and people continue to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet as recommended by federal health authorities.
Dog parks are being closed because they are gathering places that place people in closer proximity to each other, which could lead to the spread of COVID-19.
The cancellation of all Forest Preserve public programs and volunteer workdays also will be extended through April 7.
During this time period, members of the public can still call the District’s main number, 815.727.8700, or fill out a Contact Us form online at ReconnectWithNature.org. if they need assistance or have questions.
All Forest Preserve visitor centers and latrines also are closed, and the sale of wedding, picnicking and camporee permits has been suspended through April 30.
The vestibule at the Forest Preserve’s police headquarters will remain open so people can pay tickets by using a drop box between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors can push the call button for assistance. Ticket payments also can be mailed to: Forest Preserve Police, 22606 S. Cherry Hill Road, Joliet, IL 60434.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to limit social gatherings to 10 people or less and to keep a social distance of 6 feet or more from others to prevent the spread of the disease. The Forest Preserve closures and cancellations are being instituted to help reduce a possible spike in COVID-19 cases, similar to those seen in other countries affected by the virus, which would overwhelm health care providers and facilities, said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer.
The District will continue to review its operations and how they might be affected by COVID-19 on a daily basis, and updates will be posted on the Current Headlines section of the District’s website, ReconnectWithNature.org., throughout this sensitive time period.
Forest Preserve officials urge everyone to protect their health and safety by following all CDC public health guidelines at cdc.gov and to check back often to be aware of the latest coronavirus news and public health advice. Will County has established a coronavirus response hotline: 815.740.8977, which is operational from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.