July 4th Community Resources > Learn More

Natural
Areas

Into the Wild!

Our Park District manages more than 350 acres of prairie, woodlands, ravines and wetlands provide residents with more than just open space.  They are places for wonder, learning and emerging science. Few towns host ten distinct natural habitats, ranging from the cool-water ravines of the Lake Michigan shore to rare Northern Flatwood communities to the Sedge Meadows of Skokie Valley, each with its distinct community of wildflowers, wildlife, trees and shrubs.  In community parks such as Fink and Cunniff, we use native plants in raingardens, on shorelines and in ponds to provide beauty, help manage flooding and control erosion.

Did you know that the Park District of Highland Park was one of the first Park Districts in Illinois to adopt an Environmental Policy?

Our parks and natural areas departments are trailblazers in reducing the use of pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Our outreach programs foster a sense of stewardship for our natural areas, ravines, and lake in our community. We are active participants in Great Lakes research projects with scientists from the Shedd Aquarium and work with Highland Park High School and District 112. Students visit our ravine streams to learn about watershed ecology, water monitoring practices, macroinvertebrate, and fish studies. Our ongoing partnership with the Trout in the Classroom project allows students to raise rainbow trout in their classroom then release the fish into Lake Michigan. We hope that these fish will return in a few years to spawn in our ravines. If they do, that will indicate that the ravines are a healthy habitat for local wildlife. 

We are proud of our tradition of environmental education that allows us to bring outdoor science to our youngest residents and help adults of all ages build their resumes and find careers in the emerging green industries.

Join a Workday!

Most Fridays at Heller Nature Center from 9am to noon.  For information, contact our volunteer coordinator at 847.571.7740.