Chicago Park District

FAQ

FAQ Categories

Artificial Turf Fields

Advisory Councils

Program Registration

Permits

Dog Friendly Areas

Prescribed Burns

Beaches

Emerald Ash Borer

Questions And Answers

Artificial Turf Fields

Why is the Chicago Park District installing artificial turf fields?

 

Chicago Park District athletic fields are heavily utilized and artificial turf is a good sustainable solution. Artificial turf fields are a good replacement for natural grass fields because they extend the playing season and lower maintenance costs. Because the fields are in high demand and heavily utilized, shutting a field for a year to restore a natural turf field would displace users. Industry recommended average is 50 games (about 4 games per week) a season. The Chicago Park District may see up to 50 games a week on these athletic fields. Strategic placement of artificial turf fields allows for additional resources to maintain and reseed or sod the existing fields.

The benefits of artificial turf fields include continuous use of the fields in all weather and seasons and decreased maintenance costs.   Artificial turf fields provide the ability to use recycled materials such as stone underneath the field and crumb rubber infill that would otherwise be disposed of in a land fill. 

back to top

Are artificial turf fields safe for users?

 

Yes, for both adults and children. Numerous peer reviewed, in-depth studies, have been completed on the artificial turf surface materials, backing, yarns and infill materials used for most professionally installed artificial grass solutions worldwide. Results, to date, do not conclusively prove that synthetic grass and any of the selection of infill materials (including crumbed recycled tire rubbers - SBR or ambient crumb rubber) adversely affect the players on sport field surfaces; professional or school fields, or the environment. The most recent study was a comprehensive two-year evaluation of the health and environmental impacts associated with artificial turf fields containing crumb rubber infill. 

back to top

Are artificial turf fields bad for the environment?

No. The infill material of artificial turf fields may be constructed with recycled materials using up to 10 tons of ground-up used tires, rubber pebbles and/or granules.  Crumb used tire rubber has been used in fields since 1997.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) states that scrap tires are not a hazardous waste and recommends using crumb material.  This is a way to reuse old tires that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Artificial turf fields may use recycled stone aggregate under the fields. And the artificial turf fields themselves are recyclable at the end of their life. Air quality is improved because of the reduction in maintenance hours and power equipment needed to maintain a grass field.  Natural turf does little to combat airborne pollution because it is so close to the ground, unlike trees which do filter air pollution. Artificial turf is generally placed in larger parks, thereby not negatively impacting bird or animal habitat

back to top

Do artificial turf fields impact water?

 

No. The environmental impacts of an artificial turf fields are negligible.  Artificial turf fields substantially reduce water usage traditionally utilized to maintain natural turf fields.  The artificial turf fields have an extensive stormwater system beneath the surface that filters rainwater into the ground and storm sewer system. Additionally, artificial turf fields do not adversely impact habitat in the surrounding park area. 

back to top

I heard that artificial turf fields contain lead that may be harmful. Is this true?

 

No.  An evaluation done by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, found that while low levels of lead were associated with artificial turf fields, “young children are not at risk from [the] exposure.” Furthermore, a test result from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed that lead chromate levels are well below the level that can cause harm to children and athletes using the surface. In fact, the results showed an average 7 year old child would have to consume 100 lbs of synthetic turf to be at risk of absorbing enough lead to equal the minimum threshold of elevated blood lead.

back to top

Are there other toxic substances in artificial turf that I should be concerned about?

 

No.  In November 2009, the U.S. EPA released a report entitled “A Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds.” The report concluded “concentrations of Particulate Matter (PM) and metals (including lead) measured in air above the turf fields were similar to background concentrations.

  • All PM air concentrations were well below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM (150 micrograms per cubic meter).
  • All air concentrations for lead were well below the NAAQS for lead (150 nanograms per cubic meter.)
  • All volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were measured at extremely low concentrations which is typical of ambient air concentrations.

The average extractable metal concentrations from the infill, turf blade, tire crumb infill, and tire crumb material were low. Although there are no standards for lead in recycled tire materials or synthetic turf, average concentrations were well below the U.S. EPA standard for lead in soil (400 parts per million.)

back to top

What about the heat? Does an artificial turf field get hotter in the summer in comparison to a grass field?

 

Yes. Several studies have looked at the temperature of artificial turf fields on warm summer days as well as the temperature around the field. Most studies find elevated temperatures on the artificial turf surface. The Chicago Park District recommends people stay hydrated and take breaks when engaged in exercise or other activity during the summer, particularly on hot days. 

back to top

Can players get a bacterial infection from playing on artificial turf fields?

 

No. In the fall of 2003, there was an outbreak of Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph) bacterial infections among St. Louis Rams players. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study which showed that the skin infections were likely spread among players because of poor hygienic practices and not the artificial turf. More recently, in September 2006, researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences conducted a study that found no trace of Staph bacteria in any of the 20 synthetic turf fields tested at various locations in Pennsylvania. These studies and other studies indicate that the artificial turf is a “symptom” not a cause of bacterial infections. Infections are due to poor hygiene practices in locker rooms and by athletic staff and players. A Pennsylvania State University study in 2006 looked at this issue and concluded “players are not getting the Staph from the (artificial turf) field.”

back to top

Are players who use artificial turf fields more likely to get an abrasion or injure themselves?

 

Possibly. In the past, the concern of artificial turf was ankle and leg injuries. Current research on various health issues includes a recent National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) study comparing injury rates during the 2003-2004 academic years that showed the injury rate during practice was 4.4% on natural turf and 3.5% on artificial turf. A National Football League (NFL)panel found that certain serious knee and ankle injuries happen more often in games played on the most popular brand of artificial turf than on grass. While the report has yet to be published, news accounts indicate that the report examined the 2002 through 2008 NFL seasons, comparing games played on grass to those on FieldTurf. It found a higher rate of anterior cruciate ligament injuries on FieldTurf games. More research is needed on issues such as whether players are wearing the right types of shoes on artificial turf.

In October 2010, a study conducted by the state environmental officials for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery found that college soccer players suffer more skin abrasions when they play on artificial turf than with natural grass. It recommends working to prevent those abrasions, in part through protective clothing and equipment. 

back to top

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issue a warning about artificial turf?

 

Yes.  In June 2008, the CDC issued a low-level public health advisory, due to the extensive publicity surrounding artificial turf fields. The Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated reports of lead contamination from artificial turf and, in July 2008, concluded that “young children are not at risk from exposure to lead in these fields.” Neither agency has issued additional information on this topic since the advisory or report.

back to top

What did the recent risk assessment in Connecticut find?

 

Released in July 2010, the study found no elevated health risks from outdoor artificial turf sports fields made with crushed rubber. The study was commissioned by the University of Connecticut Health Center, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection. The $245,000 study tested for 200 chemicals at four outdoor fields and one indoor field. It says chemical levels at outdoor fields were comparable to levels commonly found in outdoor air, while levels at the indoor field were higher but not harmful. Concerns have been raised across the country about artificial turf’s safety because of industrial chemicals in crushed rubber tires. 

back to top

What about the California study?

 

Released in February 2010, the study made positive conclusions about artificial turf, except on heat.The University of California, Berkley released a report entitled “Review of the Impacts of Crumb Rubber in Artificial Turf Applications.”  The report found that artificial turf provides equal or better “playability” than natural turf and provides between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of playing time annually compared to natural turf fields which provide between 300 and 816 hours of playing time annually. The report also found artificial turf fields can become hot and uncomfortable to play on in warmer months. And the report found that while artificial turf contains elements that could be toxic to humans, ordinary use does not expose players to levels considered dangerous.

back to top

Do artificial turf fields contribute to the urban heat island affect?

 

No. Artificial turf does not contribute to the urban heat island effect (UHI). UHI is a phenomenon where the overall temperature of the city in the summertime heats up during the daytime. The structures in the city, in particular dark colored structures, retain that heat during the daytime and radiate it out at night, never allowing the city to cool off in the nighttime. While it is true that artificial turf will be much warmer on a summer day than the surrounding surfaces, artificial turf does not hold this heat for a significant period of time and therefore does not contribute to UHI.

back to top

I recently saw an artificial turf field being installed by the Park District. There was a warning label on the silica product being applied to the field that said it could cause cancer. Should I be concerned?

 

No. Silica is sand. Silica dust warning labels are attached to the bags of sand being delivered to the field.  These types of labels are on any type of sand one buys – even if it’s play sand from a big box retailer. Respiratory health issues associated with crystalline silica dust are primarily from daily occupational exposure over many years from activities such as sand blasting or mining where the sand particles are fractured into tiny dust particles (less than 10 microns) that are invisible to the naked eye.  The infill sand that is used has been screened and washed to eliminated fine particles and achieve a uniform grain size of between 900 and 400 microns, which does not present an inhalation hazard.

back to top

I live next door to an artificial turf field. Should I be worried about chemicals coming from the field and harming me?

 

No. In 2009, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Department of Health conducted a study to assess potential public health impact from air release of chemicals and the potential impact on ground water from leaching of chemicals from crumb rubber used in artificial turf fields.  The findings conclude that the crumb rubber material used in synthetic turf fields poses no significant environmental threat to air quality or water quality and poses no significant health concerns.  A similar study by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment also concluded that is not a serious health risk to animals and plants living in the vicinity of artificial turf fields with crumb rubber infill.

back to top

Advisory Councils

What is an Advisory Council?

An advisory council is a voluntary group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to support the effective functioning of the park. A council works with the park supervisor and other Chicago Park District staff, advising them on the needs and concerns of the community and making recommendations and suggestions regarding its respective park.

back to top

What do Advisory Councils do?

Advisory councils promote ways for the community to better utilize the Chicago Park District's programs and facilities; provide communication to the Chicago Park District on matters relating to their parks; increase community awareness of Chicago Park District projects; provide the community with a vehicle through which park information can be shared; and assist in locating alternate funding sources to enhance park facilities.

back to top

What is the time commitment?

The Chicago Park District asks that councils meet at least once annually. Many councils either meet monthly or quarterly; meetings on average last about 1 to 1 ½ hours. In addition to meetings, some councils sponsor fundraising events and other activities that require additional time commitment.

back to top

How many people make up the group?

A minimum of three (3) members are required. However a larger number of members is encouraged so there is a greater representation from the community. Depending on the size of the park, ideally councils would have 10 -15 members.

back to top

How are Advisory Councils run?

Advisory councils are separate and independent entities from the Chicago Park District. The officers of the council have the responsibility of monitoring the actions and activities of their park advisory council.

back to top

What are the benefits of Advisory Councils?

  • recognition as an organization that can effectively relate your community's goals and visions for its park to the Chicago Park District
  • appropriate space (where/when available) for advisory council meetings at local parks
  • a mailbox at the local park
  • events featured on the Chicago Park District website (see form below for submitting event information)
  • invitation to the annual Advisory Council Appreciation Day event

back to top

How do I join an existing Advisory Council?

Contact your local park supervisor and/or the advisory council president. Click here to view a list of advisory council presidents

back to top

How do I start a new Advisory Council for a park that doesn't currently have one?

Contact the park and ask for the park supervisor or area manager and schedule a date and time for the initial meeting. This meeting should be held at the park, or if no park space is available, at the nearest public facility. The park staff will post a notice of the initial meeting and work with you to notify the community of the intent to form a new park advisory council.

back to top

List of Parks with Advisory Councils

View a list of parks with advisory councils, and get meeting dates and contact information.  If you don't see a park listed, then they may have a council set up that is not currently registered, or they do not have an advisory council at all.

back to top

Revised Advisory Council Forms (effective August 2008)

All existing and newly formed advisory councils and those interested in becoming an advisory council, must review and complete the forms below. Fax the completed Application, Registration Form, Partnership Pledge and By-Laws to the Chicago Park District Community Relations Division at (312) 742-6098.

back to top

Form for Posting Events Online

Officially registered advisory councils interested in posting their events on the Chicago Park District website, should fill out the form below. Once completed, this form should be submitted to the park supervisor.

back to top

Advisory Council Events

Click here to see the advisory council events currently listed on the Chicago Park District website.

back to top

Contact Us

If you have any further questions about Chicago Park District advisory councils, please contact Dana Andrews at dana.andrews@chicagoparkdistrict.com or (312) 742-4762.

back to top

Program Registration

What are the program registration dates for this year?

View registration dates.

back to top

Can I view activities without registering for an account or logging into my account?

Yes, you can always browse through the activities without registering for an account or logging into an established account. Click View Activities button from the registration home page. Logging into your account is required to add an activity to your wish list or to register for an activity.

back to top

How does the wish list work?

The Park District encourages everyone to create a wish list and save the program(s) for which you want to register. Please note that you are saving only the program in your wish list, not actual slots in the program. When you are ready to register and you click on the program from your wish list, at that time you can order multiple slots in the program by entering multiple names. Creating your wish list prior to the first day of online registration will save you time on that first day, which gives you a better chance of getting a spot before they fill up.

back to top

How do I register online for an activity?

In addition to reading the steps below, please view the screen shots to view the complete registration process.

Once your account has been established, registration for activities is easy:

1) Click the Login button OR the Activities button on the registration home page.

2)   If you clicked the Login button on the home page:
On the next screen, enter in your login and password to sign-in.  On the following screen (Account Options), select Register for an Activity/Event/League, under Other Services. 
      If you clicked the Activities button on the home page:
You’ll be taken to the Activity Search & Registration Page. You will be prompted to enter your login information further along in the registration process.

3) On the Activity Search page, select the activity that you would like to enroll into by clicking on the underlined activity name.

4) On the Activity Detail page, Click the "Add to My Cart" button* if you wish to register for the activity. *If this button is not available, the selected activity is not available for online registration.

5) You’ll be prompted now to enter your login and password to sign-in, if you haven’t yet logged in.

6) On the Participant Information page, choose a participant and click Continue.  You are only able to select a person that was previously added to your account.  You may add to your account by clicking on the Add Family Member link.

7) Once on the Enrollment Detail page, you have secured the spot.  Review your costs and proceed to checkout by clicking the Continue button.

8) On the Shopping Cart page, you may remove activities from your cart or view more activities and add them to your cart. If more than one family member will be attending the activity, click on the button labeled, Add Another One.  Confirm your activity name, date and time, participant and price.  When finished, click the All done Proceed to Checkout button .

9) On the Order Confirmation & Payment Information page, enter your credit card information and agree to any required waiver(s) and confirm the payer meets the age requirement of "13 Years or Older". Click Continue. This system accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. The name and address provided upon checkout must match those that are on file with your credit card company.

10) Once your payment has been approved, your receipt will display. Please print a copy of your receipt for your records.

back to top

Can I register for a program on a mobile device?

Our registration site is not currently optimized for mobile devices.  

back to top

Is there a time limit for completing my order?

Yes, once you have a program(s) saved in your cart, you have 15 minutes to complete the payment information.

back to top

What forms of payment are accepted when registering online?

The following credit cards are accepted through the new system:
Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.  The Chicago Park District is no longer using PayPal.

back to top

Is payment required for all programs?

A maximum processing fee of $2.00 is applied to all orders that have a fee associated with them.  The processing fee is charged per transaction, not program. So, if you sign up for one program that has a fee associated with it or five programs, you will only be charged a maximum of $2.00 for the entire processing fee.  A processing fee in not charged for free programs.

back to top

Can I register my friends’ or family members’ children?

The system will allow you to enter non-family members on your account, which would be required in order for you to register them.  If you choose to do this, it's critical that the contact and emergency information be accurately changed for these individuals.  Please note that registrations are not transferable.

back to top

After registering online, what do I need to do to follow-up in person at the park?

Print out your receipt at the end of your online transaction and keep a copy for your records.
When you go to the park for the first day of the program, staff will confirm your registration through the system.  You are welcome to bring in your receipt with you.

back to top

What is the Refund and Cancellation Policy?

A 15% service charge will be deducted from all refunds and cancellations. This includes duplicate and accidental registrations. All refund requests must be made in-person at the park where the program is being held, at least two weeks before the program’s scheduled start date. The Chicago Park District program receipt is required for a refund to be processed. No refund requests will be accepted after the two week point. Please allow up to six weeks for your refund to be processed.

back to top

What if the program I want sells out online right away, what can I do?

If the program is available for online registration only:
A waiting list will take effect online immediately.  Once you try to register for a program that has been sold out, you can be added to the waiting list.  Make sure to complete the registration process to confirm you’re added to the list.  If spots become available, the park supervisor will contact patrons based on their position on the list.

If the program has both online and in-person registration available:
First, try to register in-person at the park.  Parks begin in-person registration on the following Saturday or Monday after online registration begins.  Contact the park to confirm their date and time.
If you don’t get a spot at in-person registration, then ask at the park to add you to the waiting list. The waiting list doesn't take effect until the in-person spots fill up. If spots become available, the park supervisor will contact patrons based on their position on the list.

Many parks do not sell out online on the first day so we encourage you to also consider another location.

back to top

Permits

How do I know if I need a Chicago park District Special Event Permit for my event?

Any event on park property is subject to the approval of the Chicago Park District. Certain activities that require a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit include the following:

  • Events with 50 or more participants
  • Use of amplified sound
  • Any advertising or sponsorship activities
  • Selling and/or distributing food, goods or merchandise (this includes exercise classes or boot camps)
  • Liquor
  • Tents
  • Inflatables
  • Stages
  • Specific location reservations

Please consider that there are other activities or proposed event features that may require you to secure a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit. Contact the Chicago Park District Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369 to discuss availability and options.

back to top

What if groups or individuals are using the park space that I am permitted for when I arrive on my event date?

Make sure that you have your Chicago Park District Special Event Permit on hand. This permit shows that you have permission to use the space for the stated time and date. If you have any problems, please contact Chicago Park District Security at (312) 747-2193.

back to top

What are the Chicago Park District’s insurance requirements and how can I obtain the necessary insurance?

Applicants must submit two documents to satisfy insurance requirements. A (1) Certificate of General Liability Insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 naming the Chicago Park District as “additional insured” and the certificate holder for the date(s) of your event including set up and tear down dates. Applicants must also submit an (2) Endorsement document, issued by the insurance carrier. The Endorsement document is issued under the applicant’s General Liability policy of insurance, including coverage for property damage while park property is occupied by the permittee, for the event that reflects that the Chicago Park District is an additional insured for the event.
Your permit will not be issued if both the Certificate of Insurance and Endorsement document have not been received and approved 48 hours prior to an event.

back to top

Is alcohol allowed at my event if I get a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?

No alcohol beverages shall be sold, brought within, given away, delivered or consumed on park property, except pursuant to Picnic level 4, Athletic  level 4 or higher, Corporate, Festival/Performance Special Event Permits, or with the Special Event Venue Rentals (with a preferred caterer). Additionally, the City of Chicago requires a special event liquor license for any alcoholic beverage service.  For more information, please call the Mayor’s Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3315.

back to top

Can I reserve Athletic areas, such as softball fields, with a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?

Athletic areas such as artificial turf fields, softball and baseball fields, soccer fields and tennis courts can only be reserved with a separate Athletic Field Permit. For more information please contact the park where you are interested in reserving an athletic area.

back to top

Are restroom facilities are available for my event? Am I required to obtain portable toilets for my event?

Public restrooms in the parks are open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Picnic levels 3 and 4 and all Athletic, Corporate and Festival/Performance Chicago Park District Special Event Permits must provide portable toilets for their participants. Location of portable toilets is subject to Chicago Park District approval.

back to top

Once I’ve obtained a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit, how can I get equipment to my site?

Parking or driving vehicles on grass or Athletic fields is strictly prohibited. If staff and supply vehicles need to be driven to the site to unload equipment or supplies, the Chicago Park District may consider granting a Chicago Park District Vehicle Pass so that the vehicles may legally access service roads, subject to Chicago Park District approval.

back to top

Can I reserve parking spaces for my event?

Parking provisions are not included in the issuance of any Chicago Park District Special Event Permit. However, public parking is available at parking lots and designated street parking throughout the parks. For more information on parking lots, please contact the Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369.

back to top

Can I have music, a DJ or a live music performance at my event?

Picnic level 3 or higher, Athletic level 1 or higher, all Corporate levels and the Festival/Performance permits allow amplified sound. Amplified sound can be added to Picnic levels 1 and 2 for an additional fee of $150. All requests for amplified sound must be approved by the Chicago Park District. Amplified sound must be directed away from residences and must comply with section 11-4-2800 through 11-4-2920 of the Chicago Municipal Code. The proposed location of the sound system, direction of sound and location of all speakers must be identified on your Site map.

back to top

Does the Chicago Park District provide tables, chairs, benches, tents, sound systems or any other equipment with a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?

The Chicago Park District does not supply such equipment. Chicago Park District Special Event Permit applicants are responsible for securing any and all event-related supplies or equipment.

back to top

May I grill in the parks?

Grilling must be confined to enclosed metal containers and may only take place within dedicated grilling areas. Hot coals must be doused with water, and ashes and coals must be properly disposed of in red used-coal receptacles. For more information, please contact the applicable region office: 
North Region:  773.262.8658
Central Region:  312.746.5962
South Region:  312.747.7661

back to top

I want to have tents and/or canopies at my event. Is that allowed?

With the exception of Commemorative Level 1 events, all other Chicago Park District Special Event Permits allow tents and canopies. Please refer to the Fee Schedule on page 10 of the Chicago Park District Special Event Permit Application for additional information regarding tent sizes within each special event permit level. Any tent or canopy larger than 400 square feet requires an approved building permit from the City of Chicago Department of Building (DOB). For more information, please contact DOB at (312) 744-3449 or the Mayor’s Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3315. Placement of all tents and canopies is subject to Chicago Park District approval.

back to top

Do I need to clean up after my event, or will the Chicago Park District provide maintenance and clean up services?

The Chicago Park District is able to provide maintenance services for lakefront parks only. These services include: providing extra garbage cans, garbage can liners, recycling receptacles and used charcoal receptacles; picking up litter left by event participants; and the collection and removal of all refuse from the site. To order these services, the applicant must complete a Lakefront Maintenance Services Application and submit payment prior to the event date. Securing an agreement for services is required for Picnic levels 3 and 4, and Athletic level 2 or higher and Corporate level Chicago Park District Special Event Permits. At the discretion of the Chicago Park District an outside maintenance vendor and maintenance plan may be required. Outside maintenance vendors and plans must meet the approval of the Chicago Park District. All agreements for Chicago Park District Maintenance Services must be arranged at least 60 days prior to your event and payments must be submitted before the day of the event. For more information, please contact the Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369.

back to top

What if I need to cancel my event?

All cancellations must be made in writing to the Department of Park Services. Permit cancellations must be received no later than 90 days prior to the event for a full refund; however, the Chicago Park District will retain 15% of the rental fee. All application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

back to top

When will my security deposit be refunded?

Upon the conclusion of your event, Chicago Park District personnel will review the event. If it is determined that there has been no damage to Chicago Park District property r equipment beyond reasonable wear and tear, the security deposit shall be refunded in full within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the permitted event.

back to top

If it rains or snows or there are other inclement weather conditions on the day of my event, can I be refunded for the event?

The Chicago Park District reserves the right to cancel or relocate an event due to poor weather and/or turf conditions prior to or on the day of the event that may cause excessive damage to Chicago Park District property. Chicago Park District Special Event Permits are non-transferable. No rain dates will be issued. Refunds will not be granted for inclement weather.

back to top

If my event has less than 50 participants and includes an exercise class/boot camp/running group component of Chicago Park District property, do I need a permit?

Regardless of the number of people participating, a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit is required, please reference the 2012 Chicago Park District Special Event Permit Application for more information, or call the Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369.

back to top

Dog Friendly Areas

What is the permit and tag fee?

The permit and tag fee is a total of $5.00

back to top

How long is a permit and tag good for?

Any permit and registration tag will be valid only for a single season no matter when purchased. A single season is defined as the period running from January 1st of any year through December 31st of the same year.

back to top

Will there be a sliding scale for seniors or visitors?

There will not be a sliding scale. All visitors must follow the same procedures for obtaining a permit and tag.

back to top

Where can I get a permit and tag?

Permits and tags are available at participating Chicagoland veterinary offices. If you are an out-of-state resident you have the option of contacting a participating veterinary office.   Most of the Chicagoland veterinarians will assist those whose own vets are not participating.  You should call them first to confirm that they will assist you, what paperwork is necessary to obtain the permit and tag, and to determine how much they charge for an office visit. You can also have your own veterinarian purchase the tag on your behalf from the Chicago Park District. They can contact us at 312-742-4687.  View the list of participating Chicagoland veterinary offices. http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/facilities/dog-friendly-areas/participating-veterinarians/ 

back to top

When can I get a permit and tag?

Permits and tags are available year round at Chicagoland participating veterinarians.

back to top

Will there be visitor or day passes?

There are no visitor or day passes. Any visitor wishing to bring their pet to a Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Area must follow the same procedures for obtaining a permit and tag.

back to top

What are the permit requirements?

Pursuant to regulations under the Cook County Ordinance, dog owners must show:
1.  A current dog license issued by the City of Chicago, or proof that the dog has a current rabies vaccination. 
2.  The owner must complete a Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Area Permit Application for each dog.  The owner shall provide written proof acceptable to the Park District showing that a licensed veterinarian (or other authorized person) has performed a fecal test for parasites and vaccinated any dog entering a DFA for the following diseases unless an exemption to this
requirement has been granted by the Administrator upon the written
recommendation from the Owner’s veterinarian:
a. Distemper
b. Hepatitis
c. Para influenza; and
d. Parvovirus
e. Bordetella
f.  Leptospirosis

(Current titers where applicable will also be acceptable)
After issuance of a permit, the dog owner is responsible for keeping immunizations a thru f above current.
3.   The owner must agree to abide by the Chicago Park District Rules and Regulations of a Dog Friendly Area.

back to top

Who will enforce the rules and regulations?

The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control will enforce DFA rules and regulations and issue tickets to violators.  Violators, along with the Chicago Park District, will face a possible fine of $500. Dog owners must carry their permits at all times when attending DFAs. Each DFA will have a sign posted at the entrance stating all DFA rules and regulations.

back to top

What happens if I lose my permit or tag?

If the Veterinarian has proof of original purchase, the Park District will supply a replacement tag.

back to top

Why do I need a permit and tag for my dog to enter a DFA?

Pursuant to a regulation issued by the Administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, all dogs entering a DFA must have a permit and registration tag from a licensed veterinarian. People who bring dogs into a Chicago Park District DFA must have both a permit with them and a registration tag for each dog. The registration tag must be on the dog’s collar or harness. The permit and registration tag may be used at any officially sanctioned Chicago Park District DFA.  The tag helps other users of the Dog Friendly Areas be comfortable that your dog is healthy and helps you to see that their dog is healthy.

back to top

How does the Chicago Park District determine a location to develop a dog friendly area?

The Chicago Park District does not seek out areas to develop Dog Friendly Areas (DFA).  If a community decides they wish to have a DFA, they must follow the Guidelines for Developing a Dog Friendly Area.

back to top

Is there a cost for developing a dog friendly area?

Yes.  The Community is responsible for funding the cost which is at a minimum $150,000.

 

back to top

Prescribed Burns

Why does the Chicago Park District conduct prescribed burns?

 

Prescribed burn management is utilized in Chicago Park District Nature Areas to achieve several objectives:

  1. Reduce the spread of weeds and undesirable woody vegetation
  2. Promote the growth of native plants
  3. Enrich and return nutrients back to the soil by burning off dead vegetation on the ground
  4. Encourage plant germination by allowing sunlight to warm the dark soil. This management technique is used widely by land managers throughout the Midwest and the country by federal, state and local municipalities. Without fire, nature areas are likely to become thickets of shrubs or weeds with little variety of plant and animal life.

back to top

Does the Chicago Park District notify the public of prescribed burns?

The Chicago Park District notifies neighborhood groups, city officials and park councils at least two weeks prior to the burn season if a burn is planned in their district. In addition, signs are posted at the nature area entrances prior to the burn. On the day of the burn, the Park District notifies the fire departments and city officials. Fire departments are called at the beginning and end of each burn.

back to top

What is the process for a prescribe burn?

The Chicago Park District Department of Natural Resources carefully assesses the needs of each nature area to determine the management needs of that site. Once the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the City of Chicago grant a permit to the Chicago Park District to carry out the prescribed burns, a professional prescribed burn manager prepares a burn prescription plan specific to each individual site. The burn plan includes areas targeted for the burn, ignition patterns, and the location of firebreaks. A firebreak is anything, such as a road, a mowed path, or a burned strip of land, which will stop a fire and contain it to a controlled area. The burn plan also specifies ideal weather conditions, number of staff, and type of equipment needed and the ecological goals of the burn. Only professional, well-equipped, fully trained burn crews carry out the prescribed burns under the supervision of the prescribed burn manager. On the day of the burn, the crews carry cell phones and two-way radios. Ample portable water tanks and a water truck are also present the day of the burn.

back to top

What happens to the plants and animals during the burn?

Fire does not harm native herbaceous plants because their root systems extend far into the ground – often more than twice the length of their foliage above ground. Native grasses have buds that are located beneath the soil surface, where they are not harmed by the flames. Some trees such as oaks and hickories grow a thick bark that protects them from fire. Animals stay safe by retreating to burrows, flying away or simply moving to another area. Burns are also scheduled to occur before spring bird nesting occurs.

back to top

Does fire cause air pollution?

Prescribed burns temporarily produce some air pollutants; however, a healthy native ecosystem adapted to fire will remove more carbon dioxide and produce more oxygen in the years following the burn because the vegetation becomes fuller and more productive. To put in perspective, fewer emissions are produced from a prescribed burn than are produced from frequently mowing a comparable area of turf grass.

back to top

When do burns occur?

 

Burns are conducted in the early spring and late fall. To ensure safety and to minimize smoke emission, trained crews carefully time the burn for a specific range of temperature, wind direction, wind strength, humidity, barometric pressure, and ground moisture conditions. The exact date and time is subject to change depending on whether or not optimal conditions for a safe yet effective burn are available. 

back to top

How will the area look after a burn?

Recently burned areas initially have blackened earth, but the sites green up very quickly in the spring. The season following a controlled burn the vegetation is lusher, the flowers are more radiant, and seed production is more plentiful. 

back to top

Can members of the public and nature stewards be involved in the burns?

All burns in Chicago Park District nature areas are conducted by professional, licensed contractors. Nature stewards will be notified when a prescribed burn is scheduled for their site. Stewards are welcome to attend and observe the burns as well as assist the Chicago Park District in notifying and educating the surrounding community about prescribed burning.

back to top

Beaches

Which beaches have accessible beach walks?

View the list of beaches which includes ADA accessibility information, along with parking information, distance swimming areas and amenities.

back to top

What causes swim advisories??

 

Swim advisories are issued for potentially hazardous weather or water quality conditions. The Chicago Park District follows United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) guidance for testing of recreational waters and tests for indicator bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the collected samples.  

back to top

What are indicator bacteria?

 

Although the type of E. coli that is tested for at beaches is not itself harmful, it is used as an “indicator bacteria” for potentially harmful germs (bacteria or viruses).  This means that that if E. coli is found, there is a statistical likelihood that other germs may be present.

The sheer variety of germs that could be found in the environment and their low concentrations make it very difficult and expensive to test for each individual organism.  To protect public health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted studies that provide a statistical link between the risk of getting sick and the presence of E. coli above certain concentrations.      

back to top

What causes high levels of indicator bacteria?

 

There are many unknown sources that can cause high levels of E. coli in the water.  Studies have shown that potential sources include waste from gulls, pets and wildlife, high temperatures, severe weather, storm water runoff, bacteria from the sand, and low lake levels. Research has suggested a strong link between high E. coli levels and fecal droppings from ring-billed gulls and other birds, which is why feeding birds at the beach is prohibited and gull harassment techniques have been implemented at some sites that have a history of high levels of E. coli. The Park District also provides numerous lidded containers for trash and recyclable materials to decrease the available food source for these "nuisance species". Additionally, the Chicago Park District Department of Natural Resources cleans each beach daily. 

back to top

How often is the water tested?

 

EPA guidance calls for municipalities to test recreational public beach waters at least once every week. The Chicago Park District tests beach waters for bacteria a minimum of five days per week, or more when high levels of E. coli area found. To help decrease E. coli levels, the Chicago Park District uses an integrated approach of best management practices in an effort to minimize various sources of the bacteria. 

back to top

How can I learn more about the current water conditions before heading to the beach?

Check the website at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/beaches or you can also learn about current water conditions by calling 312-74BEACH, texting (312) 715-SWIM and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

back to top

How does predictive modeling work?

The Park District has developed predictive models for water quality to provide more current and accurate information to the public.  Predictive models use weather data to predict bacteria levels in real-time.  Weather data is continuously collected by buoys and weather stations on the lakefront.  These data are then plugged into a mathematical equation that provides the predicted bacteria value.  This method provides a more accurate representation of current water quality than using test results from the previous day.

Work to develop predictive models was funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Substantial support was also provided by the US Geological Survey.

back to top

Emerald Ash Borer

What is EAB?

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, is a beetle native to Asia. In North America it is seriously invasive pest species.

back to top

What do emerald ash borers look like?

The adult beetle is dark metallic green in color, about half inch long, with a torpedo-shaped body.

EAB_penny

Photo courtesy of City of Elgin. 

back to top

Where did the emerald ash borer come from?

EAB comes from eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea. Before June of 2002, it had never been found in North America.

back to top

How did EAB get to Chicago?

EAB was first discovered in the US near Detroit in 2002, and probably came to the US from Asia in the early 1990’s. It is speculated to have come in ash wood used for stabilizing cargo in ships or for packing or crating heavy consumer products. Moving firewood from an infected area to an uninfected area caused the majority of the spread, despite the fact the insect can fly about half a mile.

back to top

What types of trees does the emerald ash borer attack?

In North America, it has only been found in ash trees, trees of the genus Fraxinus. Trees in woodlots as well as landscaped areas are affected. Larval galleries have been found in trees or branches measuring as little as 1-inch in diameter. All species of North American ash appear to be susceptible.

back to top

Is EAB Just in Chicago?

No. EAB infestations have been found in 19 states from the East Coast to the Midwest as of 2013

back to top

What is the most noticeable sign of infestations?

The most noticeable sign of an infestation is crown dieback, a reduction in the fullness at the top of the tree. Higher branches will die from a lack of nutrients, afterwhich epicormic branching, or low level atypical branching, may occur. Bark slits and small D-shaped emergence holes may appear where the adult EAB leaves the tree.  Wood pecker damage is common on infested trees.

back to top

What is the life cycle of this borer?

Recent research shows that the beetle can have a one- or two-year life cycle. Adults begin emerging in mid-to-late May with peak emergence in late June. Females usually begin laying eggs about two weeks after emergence. Eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks, and the tiny larvae bore through the bark and into the cambium - the area between the bark and wood where nutrient levels are high. The larvae feed under the bark for several weeks, usually from late July or early August through October. The larvae typically pass through four stages, eventually reaching a size of roughly 1 to 1.25 inches long. Most EAB larvae overwinter in a small chamber in the outer bark or in the outer inch of wood. Pupation occurs in spring and the new generation of adults will emerge in May or early June, to begin the cycle again. 

back to top

How is this pest spread?

We know EAB adults can fly at least 1/2 mile from the tree where they emerge. Many infestations, however, were started when people moved infested ash nursery trees, logs, or firewood into un-infested areas. Shipments of ash nursery trees and ash logs with bark are now regulated, and transporting firewood outside of the quarantined areas is illegal, but transport of infested firewood remains a problem. PLEASE - do not move any ash firewood or logs outside of the quarantined area.

back to top

Does it only attack dying or stressed trees?

No.  Healthy ash trees are susceptible. When EAB populations are high, small trees may die within 1-2 years of becoming infested and large trees can be killed in 3-4 years.

back to top

How big a problem is EAB?

EAB is now considered the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America. The scope of this problem will reach the billions of dollars nationwide if not dealt with. State and federal agencies have made this problem a priority. Homeowners can also help by carefully monitoring their ash trees for signs and symptoms of EAB throughout the year. 

back to top

Does EAB always kill the Ash tree?

Yes.  Once a tree has an EAB infection, it will likely die within a few years, depending on the health, size of the tree, and the size of the EAB population. 

back to top

How many ash trees are in Chicago’s parks?

The Chicago Park District has between 25,000 and 30,000 ash trees, about 10% of all trees in the parks. They are all expected to have EAB within the next decade.

Aware of the impending effect of EAB for more than six years now, the Chicago Park District has been already aggressively planting trees (about 2000 native, non-ash trees) with the potential loss of ash trees in mind.  

back to top

Does it infect any other types of trees?

No. The EAB only infects species of ash trees.

back to top

Can't find what you are looking for?

Click here to ask your own question.