Research in Our Natural Areas

We are eager to support and collaborate with scientists conducting research in our natural areas. Please follow these guidelines if you are interested in conducting research here.

  1. Email the managing ecologist* responsible for the natural area(s) where you would like to work. In your email, please address the following questions:
    • Which natural area(s) would you like to conduct research in?
    • What question(s) do you hope to address with your research?
    • What is the timing, level, and location of disturbance of the proposed research, including repeated visits to the same site over many days? This is especially important during the growing season and/or when the soils may be saturated—some of our natural areas are more sensitive to this than others. If you don't know the answer to these questions yet, that is OK—we are happy to discuss with you.
    • Does your research help address a needed management or conservation question? While we welcome research of any kind, if there will be disturbance involved, we will weigh the potential benefits gained from the research against the negative impacts of disturbance.
  2. Once you and the managing ecologist have agreed on a plan, you will need to complete and submit (via email) a research permit application to Rebecca Collings at the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC). No fee is involved with this permit, and FPCC requests that the application be submitted at least 30 days prior to beginning research. When you email the completed application, please be sure to copy the managing ecologist you have been working with. They will confirm that they support your research and workplan.
  3. Once you have your FPCC permit, work with the managing ecologist to coordinate access to the site and to address any technical or logistical questions that come up prior to or while implementing your research.
  4. Once your research is complete, be sure all equipment and flagging used at the site is carefully removed. You will also be asked to submit annual reports to FPCC; please copy the managing ecologist on these reports when you submit them.

*Contact Joan O'Shaughnessy for research in Dixon Prairie and the Skokie River Corridor, Matt Evans for research in McDonald Woods, and Plant Conservation Science Center Woods, and Lake Cook Natural Area, Jim Jabcon for research in Barbara Brown Nature Reserve, or Peter Nagle for research in our Lakes and Shorelines. If you have general questions about research in our natural areas, or aren't sure which managing ecologist to contact, please email Andrea Kramer.