Bid to end forest preserve’s fees for equestrians stalls
By Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org December 4, 2013 10:02PM
Susan Collins, president of the Palos Hills Horsemen's Association, hopes the Cook County Board of Commissioners votes in favor of eliminating horse-licensing fees when it meets Tuesday. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2014 6:16AM
While the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s proposed $179 million budget for 2014 was approved Tuesday by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, an amendment that would eliminate trail user fees for equestrians was not, said Karen Vaughan, spokesperson for the district.
The board voted 12-3, with two absent, against a measure that would have ended a long-running licensing fee for horse riders who use the forest preserve’s trail system.
An alternative amendment to allocate the approximate $40,000 that is collected every year in equestrian fees specifically for horse-related amenities did pass, 16-0, with one absent.
Susan Collins, president of the Palos Hills Horsemen’s Association, said equestrians likely will continue their fight to have the user fees eliminated.
“Equestrians are the only user group that pays to use the multi-use trails,” Collins said.
As for the amendment that earmarks the money for horse improvements, Collins said, “A separate fund would be great … (But) unless they do the same for the bikers, which I do not think they are opposed to, it does not address the discrimination against equestrians.”
The board also approved a plan from Commissioner Stanley Moore, D-4th, that would create a new transportation program to Brookfield Zoo, Vaughan said.
The forest preserve will provide $24,000 in matching funds to PACE for the program, which would create summer‐only weekend express bus service to the Brookfield Zoo from three CTA routes — the Red Line 95th Street Station, the Green Line Harlem Station and the Pink Line 54th/Cermak Station.
Buses would run every 45 minutes from the Green and Pink Lines and twice daily each way from the Red Line, Vaughan said.
Brookfield Zoo is owned by the Forest Preserve of Cook County and operated by the Chicago Zoological Society.