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Forest Preserve Latrines, Visitor Centers to Reopen in COVID-19 Phase Four Plan

The Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet is among the visitor centers scheduled to reopen in the coming days now that the state is entering phase four of its COVID-19 reopening plan. Latrines and water fountains also will reopen, and picnic and camping permits will be available for groups of up to 50 people. (Photo by Forest Preserve staff | Glenn P. Knoblock)

The Forest Preserve District of Will County’s latrines and visitor centers will open in the coming days now that the state is entering phase four of its COVID-19 reopening plan.

The changes also will affect programs and permits. Here are the Forest Preserve’s phase four updates:

Latrines The Forest Preserve District will reopen latrines starting June 26 on a rolling basis as crews make their rounds in the morning. Latrines do not have running water or soap, so bring disinfecting wipes and a hand sanitizer.

Visitor CentersVisitor centers are set to reopen June 29 for the Sugar Creek Administration Center and June 30 for the remaining buildings with capacity limits once plastic partitions are in place at each building’s front desk. The partitions are scheduled for installation this week. If there are delays, building openings will be postponed. Visitors will be encouraged to wear masks and use social distancing while inside the buildings. Hand sanitizer will be available.

Water Fountains: The Forest Preserve will begin reopening water fountains and hand pumps over the coming weeks. In the meantime, preserve visitors are encouraged to bring water from home if they are unsure of the status of a fountain or hand pump.


Picnics and Camping Permits: 
Online picnic and camping permits will be available starting June 26 for groups of 50 or less, the limit for public gatherings set by the state. Reservations can once again be placed in person at visitor centers when they reopen.

Monee Reservoir: Boat and equipment rentals will begin June 30. Boats and all rental equipment (trolling motors, fishing poles, personal flotation devices and boat cushions) will be cleaned and disinfected after each use. The concessions area reopened June 5 to sell bait, tackle, snacks, fishing licenses and kayak/canoe launch passes, both daily and seasonal.

Trails, Preserves and Boat Launches: Trails and preserves remained open throughout the state’s initial stay-at-home order and subsequent modifications. Parking lots and boat launches reopened May 1 and dog parks reopened June 8.

Programs: Programs will be modified to allow for up to 10 participants indoors and 50 outdoors. Indoor spaces will be sanitized before and after each program. Zoom webinars and Facebook Live programs will continue to be offered online. The online Event Calendar at ReconnectWithNature.org includes the full list of program offerings and registration details.

Events: All larger events scheduled for 2020 have been canceled including: “Food Truck Fridays,” “Arts & Nature on the River,” “Hummingbird Fest and Nature Celebration,” and “Riverview Farmstead Open House.” Other program were rescheduled. Check the online Event Calendar for the latest information.

SignsInformational COVID-19 signs have been installed at all preserve entrances and trailheads to help educate visitors on how they can protect their own health and the health of others during this pandemic.

Take Precautions: The District encourages everyone to continue to take precautions. Wear face masks if you can’t maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from others. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes when soap and water are not available. Choose to visit outdoor recreational sites that are less crowded or go at a time when there will be fewer people. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should not visit a park or a preserve, ” … if you are sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or know you were recently exposed to COVID-19.”

For more information, contact the Forest Preserve District at 815-727-8700 or fill out a Contact Us form online.


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