Eating and picking berries in Cook County, IL

I don’t think this question is out-of-bounds but if it is, mods, do your thing. I hope this ins’t a ‘Speak with your attorney’ question.

I went for a bicycle ride yesterday evening in the North Branch of the Des Plaines River Trail System near Park Ridge and Des Plaines. I stopped for a rest and noticed along the trail was a large patch of blackberries (or are they black raspberries?). I ate and ate for about 20 minutes during which time, as the juice stained my chin purple, the thought occured to me that eating county berries might be illegal. I couldn’t find anything on the Cook County Forest Preserve website.

I found a 40 year old article that suggests it’s OK but I’d just as soon avoid any confrontations with the Cook County Sheriff’s Forest Preserve Police.

What is exactly allowed here in Cook County? Certainly I can’t cut down trees and set snares for deer (right?) but fishing is OK with a license and I assumed berry picking was too. Chicago Dopers?

hmm…I can’t answer the legality question as it specifically lies in Illinois, but I can tell you that, generally speaking, wild harvesting in a forest preserve or nature sanctuary is a no-no without explicit permission and an experienced guide. Both for reasons of law (most of the time a preserve is just that - preserved legally, and not for your touching) and for reasons of destabilizing fragile ecosystems (the forest preserves around here are really hanging on by a thread) and the potential for destroying rare or endangered species. Now, obviously, blackberries and black raspberries are not endangered. But would you have recognized goldenseal growing next to it or Panax cinque. growing under it? Panax loses it’s shade, and it’s done for, and it’s highly endangered due to overharvesting (irradicated, essentially) in these parts.

I *can *tell you the difference between blackberries and black raspberries. Blackberries are a solid ovoid mass of little round nubbies, and black raspberries are a dome of little round nubbies - there’s a deep hollow in the center where it attached to the plant, just like in a red raspberry.

Do I think you’re an evil bastard with blackberry juice dribbling down your chin and telling a tale of deceit and treachery? Hardly. But be careful and be conscientious.

Then why?

And since this didn’t get the avalanche of replies I was hoping for, consider this my freebie bump.

Most preserved areas have a blanket prohibition against taking or harming any plant, animal, shell, fossil, artifact, etc. Furthermore, a common hiker’s code is “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”.

Though what you’re doing is probably technically illegal, a ranger is not likely to give you a hard time for eating a few berries. It is part of enjoying nature. If you were collecting pints and pints, denuding whole stands, and trampling everything in your path then you might get in trouble (unless you happen to be a bear).

maybe next time just exercise a little more restraint and save some berries for the next visitor.

They were probably black raspberries? Were they hollow like raspberries?

The weekend of the 4th I was at my grandparents’ land, picking wild black raspberries. In SW Wisconsin, the black raspberries ripen around the 4th of July. The blackberries ripen around mid-August.

I have since determined that they are black raspberries.

I know what you mean but there’s no shortage. They lined the edge of the woods for hundreds of yards. I was trying to look for bare berry stumps and while I saw a few here and there, clearly it was not a pattern that a human harvester would have made and were lost to the birds or wind.

I guess I was hoping for a different answers. Thanks, all!

I go hiking in Shenandoah National Park and it’s quasi-OK to pick berries as long as it’s just for personal use. . It would be quite a different story if you were out picking Ginseng or Orchids or something.

But we’re talking blackberries/raspberries, very common and hardy. They’re a pest, really, except for the berries.

If you really want to be a good sport about it, you should go shit somewhere in that area to plant some seeds. :smiley: