CHICAGO, Dec. 5, 2019 – The Forest Preserves of Cook County, one of the largest forest preserve systems in the nation, has been named the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition’s 2019 Clean Fuels Champion for its efforts to improve the environment and air quality.
In the Forest Preserves’ fleet, 20 vehicles and 40 large riding rotary mowers operate on propane, a fuel that has lower emissions than gasoline and diesel. As a nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting clean-vehicles and clean-air solutions for transportation, Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The coalition gives the award annually to the organization or individual that it believes has had the most impact on reducing emissions from transportation throughout the year.
“Our team is thrilled to be recognized for this honor by Chicago Area Clean Cities,” said Tom Thompson, maintenance supervisor for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. “Most people already think of the Forest Preserves as being green. However, our efforts over many years to make our vehicles and equipment green helps advance our Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan, which aims to address serious environmental issues that threaten the Forest Preserves and people of Cook County.”
The Forest Preserves was awarded for its efforts at Chicago Area Clean Cities’ Annual Meeting. The award has been given annually since 2001 to an individual, organization or business that champions the promotion of alternative fuels and technologies to reduce vehicle emissions and reduce petroleum usage. Recent award recipients include Pace Suburban Bus, the American Lung Association, Testa Produce and Ozinga Bros, Inc.
“The Forest Preserves of Cook County is an example of what’s possible when it comes to protecting the environment,” said John W. Walton, chair of the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition. “Their steps to green their operations is an example for all who want to contribute to a better world.
“We’re also recognizing the Forest Preserves’ team for their efforts in partnering with us to promote clean vehicles,” Walton added. “Their team has provided facilities for our workshops and volunteers for events. They’ve worked hard to get people behind the wheel of electric vehicles and helped the Illinois Alternative Fuel Alliance hold education sessions for lawmakers in Springfield. Their leadership is to be commended.”
The Forest Preserves of Cook County, with nearly 70,000 acres of property, is one of the largest forest preserve systems in the nation. Maintaining all that green space requires a lot of vehicles and fuel. To mow the landscape in and around picnic groves and other recreational public spaces, the agency maintains a fleet of 40 riding mowers, 90 large tractors with flail mower attachments, 55 push mowers and 100 trimmers, heavily used April through October.
In 2013, the Forest Preserves began the conversion of its mowers to propane power, which has significantly lowered the environmental impact of its grove maintenance. “By converting our vehicles and mowers to clean power, we have been successful in making them both environmentally friendly and fuel efficient,” Thompson said. “This is a benefit to our community, the environment and a value to taxpayers.”
At the awards ceremony, CACC also named its Green Leadership Award winners. Thompson was awarded for Leadership in Public Service for his more than 30 years of service to the Forest Preserves and his role in the preserves’ sustainability initiatives. Others awarded include the Village of Oak Park, Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Stop, Ozinga and the Village of Downers Grove. Each organization was recognized for its successful use of vehicles with alternative fuels and clean-vehicle technologies.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.
About Chicago Area Clean Cities
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Chicago Area Clean Cities is a nonprofit coalition focused on promoting clean-vehicles and clean-air solutions for transportation in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. CACC is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuels and clean-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel efficiency and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To get involved, visit ChicagoCleanCities.org.
News Media Contacts:
Chicago Area Clean Cities
Forest Preserves of Cook County