COVID 19 Info

Tier 3 Mitigation measures taking effect November 20:

The main changes that effect the Champaign County Forest Preserve District are as follows: 

Meetings and social events are a known source of recent COVID-19 spread in the state of Illinois and in Champaign County. Please note the related Tier 3 Mitigation efforts:

Limit in home gatherings to household members
Meeting rooms, banquet centers, private party rooms, private clubs and country clubs may not host gatherings
No party buses
Funerals are limited to 10 family members of the decedents, not including staff, see IDPH guidance

Museums and indoor recreation centers are expected to adheer to the following Tier 3 Mitigations:

Indoor recreation centers, including theaters, performing arts centers and indoor museums and amusement centers close
Live streaming of performances encouraged with social distancing of performers and minimum operational staff

July 4th Freedom Fest Fireworks Cancelled for 2020 - Pedal Boat Rentals at Lake of the Woods Cancelled as well

May 12, 2020 - The Champaign County Forest Preserve District remains committed to supporting the health of our residents and visitors under the State of Illinois stay-at-home order from the Governor’s Office.

Unfortunately, the ongoing threat of COVID-19 has caused event organizers to cancel this year’s July 4th Freedom Fest fireworks display, held annually at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve in Mahomet.

"The continuing uncertainty of the pandemic and concern for the health and safety of participants made it the right decision, albeit a very difficult one”, stated Mary Ellen Wuellner, the Forest Preserve District’s executive director. "We know this event is a long-standing tradition for the Champaign County community. We look forward to the day when we will be able to safely come together for these fun community celebrations."

Uncertainty around Illinois’ timeline to allow large public gatherings contributed to the decision, as did the inability to secure sufficient volunteer assistance to carry out the large event given the COVID-19 safety concerns.

“It is challenging to secure a sufficient number of volunteers to work the entry gates and handle parking responsibilities in the best of years. In 2020, that task would be nearly impossible,” Wuellner noted.

The group plans to resume the fireworks show in 2021.

Also, in light of the COVID-19 situation, pedal boats will remain in dry dock for this summer at Lake of the Woods. This decision was made out of safety concerns as well as financial constraints on seasonal hiring caused by the pandemic.

“Like many businesses and government agencies, the District has been hurt financially by the shutdown of its fee-based services. Seasonal hiring has been curtailed this summer as a result, and unfortunately that affects the pedal boat program,” said Wuellner.

The good news is that a grant-funded construction project, which will improve the preserve’s “peninsula” location off Lake of the Woods Road, can proceed unimpeded this summer. When completed next year, visitors to Lake of the Woods Preserve will find a new accessible boat launch, a new large open-air shelter, and a paved walking path from the gate to the water. The Friends Foundation continues to raise match dollars in support of the grant. Those interested in supporting the project should contact [email protected]

Forest Preserves Remain Open under Extension of Statewide Stay-At-Home Order

April 1, 2020 – The Champaign County Forest Preserve District remains committed to supporting the health of our residents and visitors under the State of Illinois shelter-from-home order from the Governor’s Office. On March 31, 2020, Governor Pritzker extended the order for people to stay at home through the end of April 2020.

Under the governor’s executive order, forest preserves and other public parks continue to offer essential, healthy outdoor activities for community residents. Therefore, the Champaign County forest preserves will remain open for hiking, dog walking, fishing, and other outdoor recreational pursuits. Parks and green spaces offer important opportunities for our county residents to relax, exercise, and connect with nature.

Based on the governor’s guidance, all playgrounds within the preserves will continue to be closed to discourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Playgrounds are taped off and posted with caution signs across the preserves. The golf course is also closed, although staff continue to maintain the course on a daily basis so it will be in great shape when it does reopen.

District offices and indoor locations, including restrooms, will remain closed at least until April 30. This includes the Museum of the Grand Prairie and Homer Lake Interpretive Center. Phone calls and emails to staff will be returned as soon as possible. Public programs and events are canceled until at least April 30.

The District may close the preserves if the Governor’s Office orders that further distancing measures must be taken. We will monitor COVID-19 developments as they occur. Updates can be found on our website at

The District strongly encourages visitors to bring their own hand sanitizer for personal use when visiting all preserve areas, and as always, please adhere to public health guidelines for keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and other visitors.

Information about COVID-19 from the Champaign County Forest Preserve District

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District is working closely with local county, school, and Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department authorities to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and respond accordingly. Also, we are proactively working to ensure the health and safety of our visitors and staff. Throughout the preserve system, maintenance crews are increasing the cleaning of communal surfaces, including handrails, door handles, and drinking fountains in our buildings.

To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, we encourage you to utilize the following preventive actions consistently:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect communal objects and surfaces.
  • Stay informed. Visit the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites often.

Any decisions regarding Forest Preserve District operations and services will be coordinated with county public health officials and will be communicated to the public in a timely manner. Facility closings and/or program cancellations will be posted on our website and on our Facebook page at