A new model for interpreting native landscapes.
Openlands partnered with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore wetlands and their surrounding upland habitat in several regional forest preserves as part of the O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account. This project also coincided with the Forest Preserve’s centennial—an occasion marked by new visions, ideas, and projects for the coming century. Among them were plans to bring new and innovative forms of interpretation to preserve sites.
WKA, along with a team of graphic designers, educators, and restoration experts, worked with Openlands and Forest Preserve staff to develop a “toolkit” of interpretive elements that can be applied and adapted to a variety of nature preserve settings. The interactive interpretive plan creates an engaging experience for the community to learn about invasive plant control, seed harvesting and hydrological restoration while gaining an insight into the area’s rich ecological history. Cubic stone seats, some bearing the profiles of native animals, cluster around significant moments or carved topographic maps in 8′ diameter limestone discs at key places within the wild landscape. Folded signage and a galvanized steel bridge bearing poetic snippets connect visitors to the land.