The Forest Preserve District’s Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet will be closed as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
A portion of the building will remain open until 7 p.m. to serve as a polling place for the primary election. After that, the building will not be open to the public, which means all five Forest Preserve visitor centers will now be closed until further notice. Staff will continue to work, and members of the public should call 815-727-8700 for assistance or fill out a Contact Us form online at ReconnectWithNature.org.
Also, the sale of wedding, picnicking and camporee permits will be suspended through April 30 due to state and federal health guidelines about limiting gatherings.
The District’s remaining four visitor centers have been closed since March 13: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon; Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville; Monee Reservoir, Monee Township and Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township.
The 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.
Forest preserves, trails and all six dog parks remain open for the time being. However, members of the public are being advised to use their best judgment when considering a visit to a dog park. 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.
During the visitor center closures, members of the public can continue to obtain camping and dog park permits online via the Camping and Dog Exercising pages. One-day dog park permits will not be available during this time because they must be purchased in person.
The vestibule at the Forest Preserve’s police headquarters will remain open so people can pay tickets between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The vestibule will be staffed most of the time during business hours. However, if there isn’t a staff member present, 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 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.
Forest Preserve officials urge everyone to protect their health and safety by following state and local pandemic measures as well as 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.
For any questions about Forest Preserve program cancellations or building closures, please call 815-727-8700.