Lake Forest Open Lands Association

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About Us

Lake Forest Open Lands Association is dedicated to conserving our natural environment through land acquisition, habitat restoration, environmental education and conservation advocacy. This non-profit organization is supported completely by voluntary contributions, including membership dues and donations. Since its establishment in 1967, Lake Forest Open Lands has acquired, reserved, restored and maintained over 800 acres of local native landscapes including prairies, savannas, woodlands and wetlands for the benefit and enjoyment of the local communities. Our 12 miles of walking trails are open to the public year-round. We are proud of our history and in particular our pioneering use of conservation development and conservation financing techniques. Considered a leader among land trusts, Lake Forest Open Lands often serves as a resource to other emerging conservation groups in communities nationwide. In 2009, Lake Forest Open Lands became the first Illinois land trust to be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a mark of distinction in land conservation.

Land Acquisition
Lake Forest Open Lands maintains over 800 acres of open space, including woodlands, wetlands and several rare and globally significant prairies, ravines and savannas. Our 6 nature preserves reach all the way from Lake Forest lakefront to the rural landscapes west of Waukegan Road.

Lake Forest Open Lands has taken aggressive steps to protect valuable open spaces from over-development, preserving the unique quality of life of our area in the process. In addition to land acquisition, Lake Forest Open Lands uses conservation easements and master lease agreements as methods for working with landowners to preserve land.

Habitat Restoration
While only 1/100th of 1% of the native Illinois prairie remains, Lake Forest Open Lands is working hard to preserve and restore the fragile ecosystems in our midst. Our full-time dedicated in-house land management employees focus on restoring these at-risk remnants to optimal health and diversity.

Currently some of the land that Lake Forest Open Lands owns is of such high ecological quality that it is dedicated to the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, the highest level of land protection in Illinois. Regardless of when it was acquired or the current condition, Lake Forest Open Lands is committed to stewarding our lands in perpetuity.

Lake Forest Open Lands' restoration efforts are geared to improving healthy habitats for the native plants and animals that occupy our preserves. We are constantly recording, collaborating and monitoring the discovery of new flora and fauna species as proof that active management can positively impact our local areas.

Environmental Education
Lake Forest Open Lands believes environmental education plays a key role in building community support for the long-term commitment required to protect, restore and maintain threatened native ecosystems and open space. Through our partnership with Public School District 67 and 115 (as well as other local schools), Lake Forest Open Lands provides subsidized and sequential environmental education to over 3,200 students each year. Our programs provide a specifically tailored outdoor on-preserve experience to reinforce classroom teaching and science curriculum goals. Students return to Lake Forest Open Lands each year as part of a mandated portion of their public school science curriculum.

In addition to our school programming, Lake Forest Open Lands offers a vibrant selection of after-school, summer camp and internship opportunities. In 2007 we have also begun fully subsidzed after-school and summer programming to underserved youth in Lake County.

Conservation Advocacy
Lake Forest Open Lands plays a leadership role in public advocacy at the City and County government levels on issues relating to open space preservation and environmental protection. Lake Forest Open Lands also participates in regional and national conservation issues through an active membership in Chicago_Wilderness and the Land Trust Alliance.

Through our Conservation Science efforts, Lake Forest Open Lands hosts conservation scientists, ornithologists, herpitologists and honors students who use our open air classrooms for research on bird migration, soil chemistry and water quality testing. Partners include Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest College, Lake County Forest Preserve, DePaul University, Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden.

For additional information, visit the Lake Forest Open Lands Association website