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Green Practices Applauded with Esteemed Award

September 13, 2023 10:47 AM

The Lake County Forest Preserves earned a prestigious award in the Best Green Practices category of an Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) contest.

“The IAPD Best Green Practices Award is presented to a park district, forest preserve, conservation, recreation or special recreation agency that has taken the initiative to incorporate and encourage environmentally friendly business practices and policies,” according to the association.

IAPD is a nonprofit service, research and education organization that serves park districts, forest preserves, conservation, municipal park and recreation and special recreation agencies. “The Lake County Forest Preserves is considered one of the elites in the state in green practices,” IAPD leaders said.

“Over the years, we have placed sustainability at the center of every aspect of our work," said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. "Our goal is to raise the bar and set the example for others."

“We’re thrilled by this recognition,” said Executive Director Alex Ty Kovach. “It’s a testament to the talent and dedication of our hardworking staff and to the visionary leadership of our elected board of commissioners.”

For decades, the Forest Preserves has been committed to ensuring all 31,000 acres function at their highest ecological level, said Kovach. More recently, the agency dedicated itself to ensuring new and retrofitted facilities will be models of long-lasting, energy-efficient design. Four net-zero energy Forest Preserve buildings are complete, under construction or in the engineering phase.

Other initiatives range from reducing mowed turf, transitioning to hybrid passenger vehicles, and introducing electric light-duty maintenance vehicles, to purchasing only compostable cups at the wildly popular Beer Garden at Independence Grove. The latter effort alone will divert an estimated 40,000 cups annually from landfills.

District leaders have devised ingenious ways to recycle, from railroad ties to industrial boilers. "We are preserving the region's remnant native habitats, restoring former agricultural lands to high-quality natural areas, holding stormwater on the landscape to prevent flooding, improving water quality, and bringing safe, open, natural lands into Lake County's underserved communities," Kovach said. "All of these efforts set the stage for a greener future."