Lake County leaders celebrates as legislature approves funding to plan for popular greenway


Local advocates salute governor, Lake County’s legislative delegation, county board members, and municipal officials for critical support

‘Majestic Sandhill Crane’, Route 53 Photo Competition l Glass 2nd Place Winner Photo Credit: Cheryl Keegan

Yamys Urbano Valencia (415) 712-5427 |

Barbara Klipp (847) 903-3565 |

Mike Truppa (312) 286-5077 |


CHICAGO (June 6, 2024) Lake County leaders Wednesday cheered the Illinois General Assembly’s approval of funds to embark on planning for a protected natural area that advocates have championed as one of the remaining jewels of the local landscape.  

With crucial support from Governor JB Pritzker and members of Lake County’s legislative delegation, lawmakers approved a Fiscal Year 2025 state budget allocating $1 million to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to prepare a master land use plan to convert the vital band of open space that comprised the proposed site of the defunct Route 53 extension into a thriving state park or “Greenway.”

Members of the Green Corridor Coalition – an alliance of community groups, civic organizations, and environmental advocates formed to support the proposed Greenway rejoiced over the watershed development in their bid to preserve one of the area’s aesthetic treasures and provide public access to the site. They praised the Governor and his administration; Lake County’s legislative delegation; county elected officials; municipal mayors; and grassroots leaders who were instrumental in reaching this funding milestone. 

“This investment is a critical step towards bringing a valuable public amenity to Lake County that would connect more families to nature and recreational opportunities, while providing a variety of ecosystem services and economic development benefits to our region,” said Chris Kessler, Director of Policy at Openlands. “We appreciate the leadership of Gov. Pritzker and our Lake County state legislators who recognized the amazing opportunity before us to protect this critical landscape and prioritized moving the vision for a greenway forward by securing funding for a master land use plan.”

The proposed Greenway features a mosaic of natural marvels, including flourishing meadows, creeks, ponds, and sanctuary for wildlife. The site would incorporate the approximately 12-mile linear land corridor where the Route 53 extension was planned before its extinction, linking the communities of Long Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Mundelein, and Grayslake. 

In budgeting money to study the Greenway, the Pritzker administration and Legislature embraced the findings of a state task force, which in late 2022 recommended that the state fund a working group of local and regional stakeholders to plan for the conversion of the land into a protected natural area accessible to the public.  

That was followed in early 2023 with the Lake County Board’s resounding vote in favor of a resolution supporting the Greenway.

Pritzker’s proposed $1 million allocation to IDNR, approved by the Illinois General Assembly, would fund initial collaboration on the concept for the site.  

“I commend the state government for their visionary decision to allocate funds for the development of a regional wildlife corridor and trail connecting communities from Grayslake to Long Grove,” said Elizabeth Davies, Trustee of the Village of Grayslake. “This innovative greenway project exemplifies the type of forward-thinking that enhances the appeal of Lake County for prospective businesses and homebuyers by providing much-desired access to nature and interconnected bike and walking trails. Such projects not only promote healthier lifestyles but also strengthen community bonds, making our region a more attractive and vibrant place to live and work.”

The greenway project has seen a groundswell of support in recent years from local residents, conservation groups, and civic organizations advocating to preserve this continuous stretch of open space.

“Passage of the funding to enable IDNR to create a plan for this 12-mile wildlife corridor is an extraordinary milestone resulting from several decades of work,” Midwest Sustainability Group Executive Director Barbara Klipp said. “We are profoundly grateful to Governor Pritzker and all of our Lake County elected officials on both sides of the aisle, in state, county and municipal government, for the tremendous support that we have received to make this vision a reality. MSG, alongside our colleagues in the Green Corridor Coalition, is eager to work with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to bring together state and local government with the communities in the corridor to protect this regionally significant landscape, and create a lasting amenity for all to enjoy.”

Advocates hope that the master planning process will commence shortly after the state budget goes into effect on July 1, 2024 and will incorporate input from stakeholders, environmental assessments, and design concepts to determine the amenities, trails, and facilities for the greenway.

Although the expansion of Route 53 from Lake-Cook Road to the center of Lake County had been a polarizing issue for more than 50 years, there has been overwhelming support building in recent years for its transformation into a regional gem for the enjoyment of the community and the protection of wildlife. The inclusion of funding for planning of a green corridor in the state budget brings this vision closer to becoming a reality.


Related Posts

Scroll to Top