Openlands earns reaccreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission


Recognized for strong commitment to public trust and conservation excellence 

 Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, USDA Forest Service photo by Preston Keres

Huan Song, Director of Communications

Yamys Urbano Valencia, Bilingual PR and Communications Specialist
(415) 712-5427

CHICAGO (March 15, 2024) One thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the natural spaces they love. Since 1963, Openlands has been doing just that for the people of Chicago metropolitan region. Now, Openlands is proud to announce we have been awarded land trust reaccreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of over 450 accredited land trusts across the nation, we are committed to conservation excellence.  “Receiving our reaccreditation shows Openlands’ ongoing commitment to permanent land conservation as Chicago’s regional land trust,” said Michael Davidson, Openlands President and CEO. “We are a stronger organization than ever for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process, which reaffirms our commitment to protecting nature for life.”  

Openlands provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that Openlands meets the highest national standards for conservation permanence. Accredited land trusts across the U.S. now steward over 20 million acres – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.  

Openlands has been a Land Trust Alliance member since 1983 and was accredited for the first time in 2013 by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Since our founding, Openlands has protected more than 70,000 acres in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our efforts include the protection of beloved open spaces large and small in our region, including holding the permanent conservation easement on North Park Village in Chicago, working with local and federal partners to protect Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, partnering with conservation-minded property owners to create a patchwork of protected land in the Liberty Prairie Reserve, and building up Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge through our land acquisition efforts.  

“Openlands drives regional conservation strategies by building strategic partnerships, supporting planning efforts and offering technical assistance, engaging elected officials, and empowering local advocates. Our land preservation model is partner-driven so we can remain strategic and nimble. We do not own or manage land in perpetuity but buy it and transfer it to public and private partners for permanent protection,” said Emily Reusswig, Vice President of Conservation and Policy at Openlands. “Most recently, we transferred the 72-acre Openlands Lakeshore Preserve to the Lake County Forest Preserves and transferred three properties in Liberty Prairie Reserve to the non-profit Center for Humans and Nature, protecting it further with a conservation easement.” Our land protection partners include conservation-minded individuals, private and nonprofit organizations, and public agencies, from Chicago Park District to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  

“We are proud to recognize Openlands’ continued commitment to conservation excellence,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, executive director of the Commission. “The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction that stands for excellence, trust and permanence. Openlands is part of a network of over 450 accredited land trusts that are united by their strong ethical practices. Accredited land trusts inspire confidence and respect among their peers and in their communities.”  

Openlands is one of 1,281 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at 

About Openlands 

Founded in 1963, Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. As Chicago’s regional land trust, Openlands connects and energizes the region through strategic collaboration and local partnerships. We work closely with government agencies and policymakers to develop new environmental conservation plans and practices created with all individuals in mind. From establishing city parks and trails to stewarding large-scale landscapes and waters in Northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region, Openlands is committed to advancing nature-based solutions to mitigate the threats of biodiversity loss and climate change and create access to nature for all. For more information, please visit 

About Land Trust Accreditation Commission 

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit

Related Posts

Scroll to Top