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For Immediate Release: Openlands TreeKeepers Summer 2018 Course Registration Opens

*** Certification course to be offered in Arlington Heights ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – June 20, 2018) Registration is now open for the summer 2018 Openlands TreeKeepers certification course. The TreeKeepers program, which Openlands began in 1991, has trained nearly 2,000 volunteers to conserve, protect, and advocate for the region’s urban forest. Those interested should visit Openlands.org/treekeepers to enroll. The registration period closes on July 9, 2018.

Summer 2018 classes will be held from 6-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 10 through August 2. Weekday courses allow interested individuals with busy weekend schedules a chance to participate in the program. All classes are held at Arlington Heights Public Works, 222 N. Ridge Avenue, Arlington Heights, IL, 60005.

The course costs $128, with a limited number of scholarships available. Each participant receives a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety gloves, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, badge, and t-shirt. Classroom lessons and fieldwork cover a broad range of forestry topics including tree biology, identification, planting, pruning, pests and diseases, soils, advocacy, and stewardship skills. TreeKeepers have helped Openlands plant nearly 5,000 trees across the Chicago region since 2013.

To become certified as a TreeKeeper, participants must attend all eight classes; pass a written final exam; complete practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledge to complete 25 volunteer hours within a year of graduation; and adopt public trees in a park or a parkway. After certification, TreeKeepers can host volunteer workdays, attend advanced trainings, adopt trees, and help maintain public parks.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Summer Paddling Events Encourage Residents, Families to Explore the Lake Michigan Water Trail

Contact: Openlands, 312-863-6260, press@openlands.org

(Chicago – June 8, 2018) Openlands and Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program announce three family focused paddling events, organized along the Lake Michigan coast in northern Illinois. These events will provide opportunities for kids and adults to explore and enjoy Lake Michigan this summer, and introduce them to the greater Lake Michigan Water Trail. Events will include beginner-friendly paddling experiences and water safety training. In addition, there will also be guided tours of natural areas and other family friendly activities such as fishing, provided by local partners. These events and all activities are free and no registration is required.

“Illinois’ northern coastal region is rich with opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Catherine Buchalski-Smith, an Outreach & Engagement Specialist with IDNR’s Coastal Management Program. “In speaking with our many partners, we identified the need to develop free public programming to enhance opportunities for Illinois residents to connect with Lake Michigan in new and exciting ways. We hope that visitors to these events will enjoy their experience and return to the area to continue recreating along the shores of Lake Michigan.”

“The Lake County Nature Network (LCNN) is excited about the upcoming water trail events that will show many more members of our communities how much Lake Michigan has to offer,” said Susie Hoffmann, Lake Forest Open Lands’ Director of Education and LCNN representative. “The water trail not only provides recreation, but also allows us to introduce new groups to this ecosystem’s rich natural history and environmental significance.”

“We hope these events will help grow the already popular paddling culture in Lake County and expose new paddlers to the access points on Lake Michigan,” said Openlands’ Aquatic Ecologist Laura Barghusen. “The more access you can provide to the water, the more people will end up using water trails, and we know that greater use and appreciation leads to more advocates and stewards of our region’s water resources.”

The paddling events will take place:

  • Saturday, June 30, 11am – 4pm, North Point Marina, 701 North Point Drive, Winthrop Harbor, IL 60096
  • Sunday, July 1, 11am – 4pm, Illinois Beach State Park, enter on Wadsworth Road, 1/5 mile east of Sheridan Road, Zion, IL 60099
  • Friday, August 3, 1 – 7pm, Waukegan Harbor, 55 S. Harbor Place, Waukegan, IL 60085

Additional information (also in Spanish) on the paddling events is available at PaddleIllinoisWaterTrails.org.

Following the paddling events, Openlands and the IDNR Coastal Management Program intend to host a series of public meetings to gather community input for the design and implementation of an approximately 10-mile stretch of the Lake Michigan water trail from North Chicago to the Wisconsin border. Water trails are designated routes along navigable waterways for paddling and recreation. Information about the planning meetings will be made public when it is available.

Support for the paddling events is provided by Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Openlands.

About Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program

The IDNR Coastal Management Program is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the environmental, economic, and social value of Illinois’ Great Lakes coast. Our program fosters healthy ecosystems and resilient communities by providing expertise, funding, and other resources that:

  • Engage and connect communities with the Lake Michigan coastal region;
  • Enhance coastal stewardship;
  • Promote balanced use; and,
  • Improve interagency coordination.

From local projects to regional initiatives, we support coastal-specific planning, education, conservation, and economic development efforts that are forward-thinking and responsive to community needs.

About Lake County Nature Network

The Lake County Nature Network is a collaborative effort led by several conservation and environmental organizations in Lake County, Illinois that serve to better connect our area’s Latino and African American communities to nature-based learning, science, recreation, and stewardship activities within Lake County.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Environmental Advocates Applaud Passage of Urban Agricultural Areas Bill in Springfield

Contact: Openlands, 312-863-6260, press@openlands.org

(Chicago – May 24, 2018) Yesterday the Illinois State Senate passed HB 3418 which identifies incentives that local governments may extend to farmers – such as reduced water rates, reduced utilities fees, and property tax abatements – to expand access to urban farming. HB 3418 passed in the Illinois House of Representatives on April 25, 2018 and now awaits the signature of Governor Rauner.

To help local governments expand access to urban farming and local food, HB 3418:

  • Allows local governments to create urban agricultural areas, where beginning, socially-, and economically-disadvantaged farmers are operating urban farms;
  • Allows local governments to abate property taxes on urban agricultural areas;
  • Allows local governments to reduce water and utilities fees and rates to rate payers in urban agricultural areas; and
  • Allows local governments to use TIF revenues to offset the costs of providing incentives to urban agricultural areas.

The following statement was issued by Laura Calvert, Advocates for Urban Agriculture Executive Director:

“We commend the Illinois legislature and in particular Rep. Sonya Harper for lowering barriers to starting and operating urban farm businesses. This bill will further stimulate our local food system by growing businesses, jobs, produce, and our economy.”

The following statement was issued by Rodger Cooley, Executive Director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council:

“Representative Sonya Harper and Senator Mattie Hunter’s leadership were invaluable for getting this important legislation passed.  HB3418 will help open doors for urban farmers to supply healthy foods, grow valuable jobs, and revitalize land in communities needing extra support.”

The following statement was issued by Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council:

“HB 3418 will encourage urban farmers and bring the benefits of local food economies to communities across Illinois. We’re grateful to Representative Harper for her tireless advocacy on these issues.”

The following statement was issued by Liz Moran Stelk, Illinois Stewardship Alliance Executive Director:

“This bill will make farm dreams a reality for many urban growers. It levels the playing field for producers across the state to access and afford land. This bill reflects Rep. Harper’s vision for a vibrant local food economy. She has an impressive track record of developing and championing policies that support growers and get fresh, local food in communities.”

The following statement was issued by Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO:

“This is an important step towards improving equity, community health, and economic opportunity for urban farmers in Illinois. Urban farmers face unique challenges and barriers to access, so this bill allows local governments greater flexibility in addressing those needs. We sincerely thank State Representative Sonya Harper and State Senator Mattie Hunter for leading this effort in Springfield, and we urge the Governor to sign this bill.”

About Advocates for Urban Agriculture

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) empowers urban growers to foster thriving communities through sustainable agriculture and equitable food systems. To pursue this mission in the Chicago region, AUA educates and trains urban agriculture practitioners; endorses best practices for growing operations; connects growers, consumers and resources through an active network; and advocates for urban agriculture policy at all levels.

About Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Chicago Food Policy Action Council is a not-for-profit organization that since 2002 advocates for food and agriculture policy promoting local, sustainable, fair, humane and healthy food for all communities.

About Illinois Environmental Council

Since 1975, IEC has promoted sound environmental laws and policies in Illinois. We encourage decision makers in the private sector to go beyond minimum standards to establish new environmental best practices. We credit those who lead, innovate, and inspire others to follow their example. Visit us at www.ilenviro.org.

About Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a statewide membership non-profit organization advocating on behalf of local food and sustainable farming. The Alliance’s mission is to cultivate a local food and farm system that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially just.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: This Arbor Day, The Morton Arboretum and Openlands Ask, ‘Waht’s Your Tree Story?’

***Launching April 27, Tree-mendous Tree Stories asks Chicago-area residents to share stories about the meaningful trees in their lives and communities***

CONTACT:    Patti MacMillan, 630-719-5768, pmacmillan@mortonarb.org
Brandon Hayes, Openlands 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org

(Chicago and Lisle, IL – April 27, 2018) Sweeping branches, lush green canopies, stately trunks soaring to great heights—trees are inspiring with their magnificence and their influence on lives and communities. In celebration of the Chicago region’s trees, The Morton Arboretum and Openlands are partnering to launch Tree-mendous Tree Stories, an online collection of curated stories highlighting people’s connections to trees.

Tree-mendous Tree Stories will debut on April 27, Arbor Day, a tree-planting holiday also dedicated to caring for and paying tribute to trees. Beginning on Arbor Day, people can submit stories about Chicago-area trees they cherish, remember from childhood, or honor for special meaning at their homes, in their neighborhoods, or at other favorite places.

Those who submit a story have the option of tagging it geographically and under a number of themes, including family, history, holiday, or travel. Contributors also have the opportunity to share a photo, video, and audio file to complement their story. Visitors to the Tree-mendous Tree Stories website can peruse an ever-growing collection of stories, with the ability to filter tree tales based on a theme, location, or type of tree.

In addition to enjoying the stories, visitors to the site can also find out how to get involved in tree conservation. The platform provides information about Openlands TreeKeepers, volunteers who work throughout the region to keep trees healthy, and showcases the Arboretum’s Woodland Stewardship Program, a training and certificate program for volunteers in natural areas restoration. Users also can learn about the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, a coalition established by the Arboretum and focused on coordinated action on key issues facing trees. Additional information highlights Openlands TreePlanters Grants, which provide new trees to communities in the City of Chicago. Tree planting and care tips are also among the resources available to visitors.

“Arbor Day is a fitting occasion to reflect on and celebrate the role and significance of Chicago-area trees in your own life,” said Gerry Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum. “Sharing stories about trees you love is a way to raise the profile of trees, and recognize and appreciate the good they do for people, communities, and the environment.”

“Trees are often one of the earliest memories people have with the natural world around them,” said Jerry Adelmann, President and CEO of Openlands. “They hold a special place in our imaginations and in our connections with nature. We’re excited to hear stories of special trees from our friends and neighbors across the Chicago region.”

Tree-mendous Tree Stories can be found at tree-stories.org.

About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum and tree research center located in Lisle, Illinois. As the champion of trees, the Arboretum is committed to scientifically-informed action, both locally and globally, and encouraging the planting and conservation of trees for a greener, healthier, more beautiful world.  On 1,700 acres are 222,000 plant specimens representing 4,500 different kinds of plants, along with specialty gardens, educational exhibits, the award-winning Children’s Garden, 16 miles of hiking trails and the Visitor Center, featuring The Arboretum Store and the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café. The Morton Arboretum is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, welcoming 1.1 million visitors annually and serving 46,200 member households in 2017. Learn more at mortonarb.org.

About Openlands
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Applauds Village of Elwood’s Decision to Remove NorthPoint Intermodal Proposal from Board Agenda

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – April 18, 2018) On Tuesday, April 17, Mayor Doug Jenco of the Village of Elwood announced a lack of support on the Village Board to approve a land annexation agreement for the proposed NorthPoint Compass Business Park, canceling the public hearing on the project. Per a March 2018 decision, the Village Board of Elwood now has until September 14, 2018 to make a final decision on the project.

The Kansas City-based NorthPoint is requesting to annex 675 acres from the Village of Elwood for the proposed 2,200-acre industrial facility between the small agricultural town and the northern border of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. At 2,200 acres, the completed facility would be among the largest intermodal complexes in the nation.

“Openlands applauds the Village Board of Elwood for listening to the vocal input of residents and making a great decision for their community,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “The NorthPoint proposal ran contrary to decisions made by the local community over the future of their village. It would flood the area with over 50,000 additional cars and trucks per day, and dramatically increasing light-, air-, and noise-pollution. And in addition to diminishing the quality of life for people in an area, it would needlessly sacrifice thousands of acres of prime farmland instead of focusing industry in the most complementary and competitive locations.”

The proposed intermodal threatens the health of the region’s groundwater supply and would pollute local creeks; it would ruin globally imperiled wildlife habitat at Midewin; and it would divert scarce transportation funding from regional priorities such as improvements to Interstate 80 and the Des Plaines River Bridge. Further, the proposed intermodal would undermine comprehensive regional plans for growth, such as Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s ON TO 2050 plan, as well as nascent community agreements on comprehensive land use and transportation planning in southern Will County, which provide long-term stability and clarity as to how all the diverse land uses in the area can complement one another and thrive.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Space to Grow Wins the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Healthy Community Award at the 24th Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

*** Public-Private Partnership Recognized at LISC Chicago’s annual neighborhood awards event on April 5 ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(CHICAGO – April 9, 2018) Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago presented the 24th Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) on April 5, 2018 to recognize and honor the top community development, real estate development and architectural design projects in the city’s neighborhoods. Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands received the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Healthy Community Award as recognition for work on Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards.

Space to Grow transforms Chicago Schoolyards into vibrant spaces to play, learn and be outside. Space to Grow is co-managed by Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands and brings together capital funds and leadership from Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Department of Water Management, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. For more information, please visit www.spacetogrowchicago.org.

“On behalf of the Space to Grow partners, we want to thank LISC and CNDA for their recognition of this partnership,” explained Rochelle Davis, President and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign. “Space to Grow is a unique collaboration dedicated to creating a brighter, greener, healthier future for our city. Each partner believes that schools are central to community life, making them an ideal focus for collaboration.”

“Space to Grow schoolyard transformations prioritize physical activity, outdoor learning, and community engagement,” said Daniella Pereira, Vice President of Community Conservation at Openlands. “The green schoolyards incorporate landscape features that capture a significant amount of rainfall, helping keep the city’s water resources clean and resulting in less neighborhood flooding. It’s a win for students, neighborhoods, and our city’s environment.”

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Healthy Community Award recognizes a successful community-based effort to address the health of a low-to-moderate income neighborhood in the Chicago metropolitan area through creative and collaborative strategies.

“For more than two decades the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design have celebrated Chicago’s neighborhoods by honoring and recognizing the outstanding achievements in neighborhood real estate development, community engagement and neighborhood planning,” said LISC Chicago’s Executive Director Meghan Harte. “At CNDA we take a moment to really recognize and celebrate the creativity and accomplishments that transform our communities. Our neighborhoods are what make Chicago the unique city it is – congratulations to this year’s winners, you have inspired us with your vision and commitment.”

Established in 1995, CNDA was created to celebrate and honor the outstanding achievements in neighborhood real estate development, architectural design and community building, as well as the essential role that both non-profit and for-profit developers play in building healthier neighborhoods throughout Chicago. CNDA is the largest and most venerated celebration of the creativity and accomplishments that transform neighborhoods across the City. During the ceremony CNDA presented six community development awards, three Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design and two awards for personal achievement to individuals. All award submissions were extensively reviewed by teams of judges.

For more information about the CNDA and to learn more about this year’s winners visit, http://www.lisc-cnda.org/.

About Healthy Schools Campaign

Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making schools healthier places for all students. HSC believes that health and wellness should be incorporated into every aspect of the school experience. Founded in 2002, HSC advocates for children to have better access to nutritious school food, physical activity, school health resources and clean air to shape their lifelong learning and health. HSC facilitates collaboration between students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers to help prepare this diverse group of stakeholders to lead change for healthier schools at the school, district, state and national levels. For more information, visit healthyschoolscampaign.org.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

About LISC Chicago

LISC Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. Part of the national nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, LISC Chicago provides grants, loans, technical assistance and other resources to more than 70 partner organizations in low- and moderate-income communities across Chicago. When neighborhoods are connected to the right resources and work together to advance robust, coordinated community development plans, they are better positioned to participate in the region’s economic growth. For more information, visit lisc-chicago.org.

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For Immediate Release: The Community Foundation For McHenry County Awards Grant to Openlands at March Ceremony

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – April 2, 2018) The Community Foundation for McHenry County has named Openlands as a recipient of a $25,000 grant at The Foundation’s Spring Grants Breakfast held March 28, 2018 at Boulder Ridge County Club, Lake in The Hills, Illinois. This will support Openlands’ ongoing efforts to restore a natural area for Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. The grant supports woodland and wetlands restoration at the 11-acre Blackmon Tract in Richmond, Illinois.

Openlands is among 20 Arts and Culture, Education, and Environment services organizations serving McHenry County that received grants totaling $176,900 from the Community Foundation this spring granting cycle.

The Community Foundation for McHenry County connects the generosity of local donors with community needs through grants to organizations working to create a better quality of life throughout the county. Over the past five years, The Community Foundation has distributed more than $6.5 million to over 100 nonprofit organizations across all types of service areas within the community of McHenry County.

 “The Community Foundation supports agencies that serve our community in all ways, and today we can see some of those very special opportunities for service that truly touch thousands of individuals everyday”, said Robin Doeden, Executive Director for The Community Foundation. “Whether you attend a musical or theatrical performance, attend a gallery show, take a walk through McHenry County’s beautiful natural parks or participate in a training or educational program offered by any number of our community’s agencies. The Community Foundation has had a hand in making that possible.  We are honored to partner with so many agencies whose mission is to enrich the lives of our residents on a daily basis.”

The Foundation’s grant recipients underwent a thorough application and review process and demonstrated their agency’s needs, goals, reach and potential to The Foundation’s grant committee.

“Openlands thanks The Community Foundation for McHenry County for this essential support as we progress with the Blackmon restoration,” said Openlands Director of Regional Conservation Aimee Collins. “We are excited for McHenry County residents to see the tangible result of this grant when restoration of the site is complete. Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will be an asset for our communities, increase recreation opportunities for families, and help protect the landscapes that define our home in perpetuity.”

The Community Foundation for McHenry County has two annual grant cycles, distributing funds to Arts and Culture, Education and Environment projects and programs as grants in the spring and to Health and Human Services projects and programs in the early fall each year.  Local nonprofits interested in applying for funds should visit www.mccfdn.org or contact Margaret Miller at 815.338.GIVE(4483).

McHenry County residents seeking to make a difference locally by contributing through The Community Foundation can contact Robin Doeden at robin@mccfdn.org or call 815.338.GIVE(4483) or visit http://www.mccfdn.org.

About The Community Foundation for McHenry County

The Community Foundation for McHenry County is a trusted leader, sponsor and participant encouraging philanthropy and welcoming partnerships to create a positive difference in the quality of life in all of McHenry County.

The Community Foundation is a tax-exempt public charity created by and for the people of McHenry County.  We work with nonprofit agencies within the county to help them fulfill their charitable mission and goals.  We play a key role in addressing community needs, opportunities and dreams – now and in the future – in order to help make giving as effective as possible.

We connect People who Care with Causes that Matter in McHenry County.

For more information, please contact The Community Foundation at 815.338.4483 or connect with us: www.mccfdn.org

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Begins Conservation@Home Property Consultations in Lake County, Illinois and Announces Native Plant Sale

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago ─ March 15, 2018) Openlands is pleased to announce the continuation of two popular conservation programs in Lake County: Conservation@Home and the spring Native Plant Sale. These programs continue the work of Conserve Lake County, the local conservation organization that merged into Openlands in January 2018.

Through the Conservation@Home service, Openlands offers a free, one-hour consultation to property owners in Lake County, Illinois who want professional assistance in identifying conservation-friendly actions for their property. Participants spend an hour walking and assessing their property with an Openlands ecologist. Based on the owner’s personal goals and concerns, they can learn ways to care for ecological features that might exist on their property; how to reduce stormwater issues; beautifully add native trees, flowers, or other plants; and create a healthy lawn for pets and children. To schedule a property appointment visit conservationathome.openlands.org.

Through the Native Plant Sale, the public can purchase trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns, and other plants for their homes and properties both online and at an on-site store.

The online store for the native plant sale is accessible at Openlands.org/Native-Plant-Sale. Openlands will accept online orders from Thursday, March 29 through Sunday, April 29. Orders must be picked up between May 18 and May 20 from 9am-3pm at Almond Marsh Forest Preserve, located at 32492 N. Almond Rd. in Grayslake, IL.

The on-site store for the Native Plant Sale will be open from May 18 to May 31 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays), 9am-3pm at Almond Marsh Forest Preserve. Plant experts will be available to assist shoppers at the on-site store.

The native species available at the sale are not available at traditional nurseries and garden centers. The curated selection being offered is chosen specifically for the plants’ landscaping aesthetics and suitability for private properties. Native plant species support songbirds, butterflies, and other local wildlife.

“These programs help Lake County residents who are looking to support clean water, rich soil, and resilient habitats on their property,” explained Openlands Director of Lake County Programs Sarah Surroz. “The Native Plant Sale complements the award-winning Conservation@Home program, which helps property owners support the health of people, pets, and wildlife while retaining their desired aesthetics features.”

Proceeds from the Native Plant Sale will support Openlands programs such as restoration of the Liberty Prairie Reserve, Conservation@Home, and regional advocacy work.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Registration Opens for Openlands TreeKeepers Course

*** Certification course to be offered at Chicago’s Washington Park ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – February 1, 2018) Registration is now open for the spring 2018 Openlands TreeKeepers certification course. The TreeKeepers program, which Openlands began in 1991, has trained nearly 2,000 volunteers to conserve, protect, and advocate for the region’s urban forest. Interested volunteers should visit www.openlands.org/treekeepers to enroll. The registration period closes on April 7, 2018.

Spring 2018 classes will be held on Sundays and Thursdays from April 8 through May 3. Sunday classes run from 11:30am-3:30pm and Thursday classes run from 6-8:30pm. All classes are held at the Washington Park Fieldhouse, 5531 S. Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, IL 60637. The historic Washington Park is easily accessible to residents of the Woodlawn, Kenwood, Hyde Park, and Washington Park neighborhoods. The Fieldhouse is located one block east of the CTA Green Line station on Garfield Boulevard.

The course costs $128, with a limited number of scholarships available. Each participant receives a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, badge, and t-shirt. Classroom courses and fieldwork cover a broad range of forestry topics including tree biology, identification, planting, pruning, pests and diseases, soils, advocacy, and stewardship skills. TreeKeepers volunteers have helped Openlands plant nearly 5,000 trees across Chicago since 2013.

To become certified as a TreeKeeper, participants must attend all eight classes; pass a written final exam; complete practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledge to complete 25 volunteer hours within a year of graduation; and adopt public trees in a park or a parkway. After certification, TreeKeepers can host volunteer workdays, attend advanced trainings, adopt city trees, and help maintain public parks.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands 2017 Annual Luncheon Raises Nearly $350,000; Examines the Vitality of the Region’s Urban Forest

***2017 Conservation Leadership Award Honored The Morton Arboretum and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative***

***Emerald Sponsors were The Negaunee Foundation and Northern Trust***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – November 21, 2017) The Openlands 2017 Annual Luncheon examined the vitality of northeastern Illinois’ urban forest and raised nearly $350,000 for the regional conservation organization. Over 850 guests considered the opportunities and challenges facing the contemporary conservation movement through the keynote by Ed Collins of the McHenry County Conservation District. The Morton Arboretum and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative received the 2017 Conservation Leadership Award.

“Since our founding in 1963, Openlands has worked to protect the rich lands and waters of our three-state metropolitan region, so that all residents have access to nature close to where they live,” said Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO. “We can only accomplish this grand regional vision through meaningful partnerships and collaboration, and today we celebrate those loyal and dedicated supporters.”

The Morton Arboretum developed and leads the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, a unique collaborative partnership of Chicago-area organizations including Openlands, to build a healthier and more diverse urban forest. The Chicago Region Trees Initiative is the largest such effort in the country, with leading national, state, regional, and local agencies working together to expand the understanding of the value of trees in the seven-county area.

“As a broad collaboration, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative recognizes the regional forest as a critical asset that needs our attention, protection, and action to ensure that each community forest is healthy and sustainable, and resulting in improved quality of life for all people,” declared Gerard T. Donnelly, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum. “Everyone has a stake and role to play in planting and protecting trees, and everyone can have an impact, even if it’s one tree at a time.”

Complete video of the program can be found at https://openlands.org/the-openlands-2017-annual-luncheon.

The event was held on November 9 at the Hilton Chicago, and The Negaunee Foundation and Northern Trust were the event’s emerald sponsors. Platinum sponsors were Allstate; ArcelorMittal; Connie and Tony Bischof; Shaun and Andy Block; ComEd; Jeanine and Andrew McNally, IV; and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. Gold sponsors were Bartlett Tree Experts; BMO Harris Bank; Bobolink Foundation; Boeing; Christy Webber Landscapes; Draper and Kramer, Inc.; Deborah Lahey; Liberty Prairie Foundation; Living Habitats; Mission + Strategy Consulting; Public Communications, Inc.; J. Timothy Ritchie; U.S. Bank; Ventas, Inc.; and West Monroe Partners.

The Openlands 2017 Annual Luncheon Committee comprised Jill Allread, Alan Bell, Shaun and Andy Block, Christopher Burke, Maureen and Scott Byron, Richard Carlson and Christina Benitez, Barbi and Tom Donnelley, Josephine Elting, Douglas Farr, Kay and John “Ted” Golitz, Scott Jamieson, Donna LaPietra and Bill Kurtis, Carrie McNally and Rick Maechling, Janis and John Notz, Andrew Otting and Laura Hohnhold, Steven Ricchio, Todd Schwebel, Lydia Scott, Hon. Debra Shore, Judith Stockdale and Jonathan Boyer, George and Nancy Sutherland, and Christy Webber.

Keynote Speaker Ed Collins is Director of Land Preservation and Natural Resources with the McHenry County Conservation District, administering restoration and land preservation efforts on 25,000 acres of open space. During his 31 years with the Conservation District, he has been involved in many major projects including the re-meandering of Nippersink Creek in Glacial Park and playing an instrumental role in the creation of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

About the Openlands Board of Directors

The Openlands Board of Directors comprises Jill Allread; Paul J. Anderson; Gary F. Balling; Paul L. Becker; Alan M. Bell; Shaun C. Block (Honorary Director); Richard J. Carlson (Immediate Past Chair); Bill Clarkin; Jonathan Copulsky; George W. Davis; Anthony T. Dean (Honorary Director); Garrett Handley Dee; Josephine F. Elting; Joseph Fedacsek; Marshall Field, V, (Honorary Director); Dean Fischer; Hugh D. Frisbie; Dinesh Goburdhun; Jonathan C. Hamill; Mark M. Harris (Vice Chair); Marilyn Jackson; Scott Jamieson; Leslie Jones; Iris J. Krieg; Carrie C. McNally (Chair); Molly Meyer; Andrew Otting; Wendy J. Paulson; Steven M. Ricchio (Treasurer); Jeffrey R. Rode; Joseph Russo; Charles Saltzman; Jo Ann M. Seagren (Secretary); and Patrick Shaw.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Statement on Reducing Protections for National Monuments

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – August 24, 2017) Today, the US Department of the Interior announced their recommendations to reduce protections for an unspecified number of national monuments. The Secretary of the Interior disclosed that he is recommending changes to a “handful” of monuments, but has not publicly shared any site-specific information.

These monuments were created through the Antiquities Act, and until today, no president has ever attempted to reduce or eliminate a national monument without achieving greater conservation goals. In doing so, the president has jeopardized generations of work by Americans who used laws like the Antiquities Act to protect our nation’s most cherished natural resources, wildlife habitats, and recreation areas.

In response, Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann issued the following statement:

“The lack of transparency is deeply troubling. National monuments protect ecologically unique areas, they enshrine our national history, and they preserve the heritage of indigenous nations. Though no monuments are being rescinded, significant reductions represent a failure to consider objects of scientific interest, such as biodiversity and cultural histories, as noted in the Antiquities Act. Our neighbors in the West supported us when we sought federal protections for landscapes in Illinois, so we are calling on our state’s elected leadership to show them the same support.”

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THE OPENLANDS 2017 ANNUAL LUNCHEON CELEBRATES THE CHICAGO REGION’S URBAN FOREST

***The Morton Arboretum and Chicago Region Trees Initiative are the Conservation Leadership Award Recipients, Ed Collins is the Keynote Speaker***

***ArcelorMittal, ComEd, Jeanine and Andrew McNally, IV, and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. are the Platinum Sponsors***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – August 17, 2017) The Openlands 2017 Annual Luncheon highlights the vitality of Chicago’s trees and the essential work that supports the region’s forest, which provides economic services, improves air quality, and beautifies neighborhoods and parks. At the luncheon, Openlands will present the Conservation Leadership Award to The Morton Arboretum and Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) for their leadership in protecting and improving the region’s urban canopy.

The Openlands Annual Luncheon is consistently the largest gathering of conservation-minded organizations, volunteers, and elected officials in the state of Illinois with over 900 attendees expected. It will take place at the Hilton Chicago on Thursday, November 9 from 10:30am until 1:30pm. A networking reception begins at 10:30am, and the luncheon and program begin at noon.

As the champion of trees, The Morton Arboretum is committed to scientifically-informed action, locally and globally, and encouraging the planting and conservation of trees for a greener, healthier, more beautiful world. The Arboretum, in partnership with Openlands, developed and leads a unique collaborative partnership of Chicago-area organizations, the Chicago Regional Trees Initiative, to build a healthier and more diverse urban forest. CRTI is the largest such effort in the country, working to expand understanding about the value of trees in the seven-county region. Together, the Arboretum and CRTI are addressing key issues facing trees, and producing funding, knowledge, skills, and expertise leading to meaningful improvements in the region’s urban forest.

“Openlands is honored to recognize the tremendous work accomplished by The Morton Arboretum and Chicago Region Trees Initiative,” states Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “The Chicago region’s urban forest is a critical asset that needs protection. Openlands, which has a long legacy of working in Chicago forestry, is grateful for the leadership and direction The Morton Arboretum has taken to ensure the region’s residents have access to a healthy urban forest.”

Keynote Speaker Ed Collins is Director of Land Preservation and Natural Resources with the McHenry County Conservation District, administering restoration and land preservation efforts on 25,000 acres of open space. During his thirty-one years with the Conservation District, he has been involved in many major projects including the re-meandering of Nippersink Creek in Glacial Park, the development of the first comprehensive spatial mapping of oak loss in the region, which inspired the Oak Ecosystems Recovery Plan, and most recently, playing an instrumental role in the creation of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.

For tickets and sponsorship information, please visit Openlands.org or contact development@openlands.org.

Media inquiries or members of the press wishing to attend the Openlands 2017 Annual Luncheon should contact Brandon Hayes at bhayes@openlands.org or 312-863-6260.

Sponsors as of August 16, 2017

The Openlands 2017 Annual Luncheon Platinum Sponsors are ArcelorMittal, ComEd, Jeanine & Andrew McNally, IV, and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.

Gold Sponsors are Jill Allread, Public Communications, Inc., Bartlett Tree Experts, BMO Harris Bank, Christy Webber Landscapes, Draper and Kramer, Inc., J. Timothy Ritchie, Mission + Strategy Consulting, U.S. Bank, West Monroe Partners, and Ventas, Inc.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Conservation Agencies and Organizations Dedicate New East County Line Conservation Area on Kishwaukee River

***Publicly Accessible Area Includes Canoe Launch***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – August 10, 2017) Multiple partners, including Openlands, Boone County Conservation District, and McHenry County Conservation District will dedicate a new 89.38-acre conservation area on a half-mile of the Kishwaukee River on Saturday, August 26 at 1pm at 7110 Boone McHenry County Line Road, Garden Prairie, Illinois. The event is free and open to the public. It includes light refreshments and a short program. Paddling on the Kishwaukee River follows the program; interested participants must bring their own canoes or kayaks and equipment including a personal floatation device. Parking for the new East County Line Conservation Area and canoe launch will be directly across the road at the McHenry County Conservation District County Line Road Access Conservation Area.

A six-way partnership included Openlands (which acquired the property before transferring it to Boone County Conservation District), both McHenry County and Boone County Conservation Districts, McHenry County Division of Transportation (McDOT), Marengo Township Highway Department, and Boone County Sheriff‘s Department. The project rebuilt infrastructure and provided new, safe recreational opportunities for residents. The property sits on County Line Road, the dividing line between Boone County and McHenry County, where a bridge dating from the 1920s had been closed for safety reasons since 2011. McHenry County Division of Transportation’s plans to replace the bridge created the opportunity both to create new water trail access to the river and help the Boone County Conservation District open a new public Conservation Area. Openlands allowed McDOT access to the property in order to rebuild the bridge. In exchange, McDOT installed a new public canoe launch, access road, and pedestrian link to an existing parking area owned by McHenry County Conservation District. In order to mitigate some modest impacts to wetlands resulting from the bridge construction, McDOT paid for nearby wetlands restoration and tree planting by Boone County Conservation District. Boone County Conservation District partnered with the McHenry County Conservation District to share facilities and reduce duplication of service. Funding from The Grand Victoria Foundation made acquisition of the land possible.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Fall 2017 TreeKeepers Course Registration Opens

*** Fall certification course to be offered at North Park Village Nature Center***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – August 8, 2017) Openlands announces open registration for the fall 2017 TreeKeepers certification course. The TreeKeepers program, which Openlands has been offering since 1991, trains volunteers to conserve, protect, and advocate for the region’s forest. TreeKeepers, who log over 20,000 volunteer hours each year, plant and maintain trees in public spaces, monitor tree-related problems, and educate communities about the importance and maintenance of the urban canopy.

Fall 2017 classes will be held on Sundays and Thursdays from September 17 through October 12. Sunday classes run from 11:30am-3:30pm, and Thursday classes run from 6-8:30pm. All classes are held at North Park Village Nature Center, 5801-D N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60646. The Nature Center, a 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility, provides public programming for all Chicago residents to explore and interact with wildlife and is home to prairie, savanna, woodland, and wetland ecosystems.

The course costs $128, with a limited number of scholarships available. Each participant receives a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, badge, and t-shirt. Courses include classroom and fieldwork, covering a broad range of forestry topics including tree biology, identification, pruning, pests and diseases, advocacy, and stewardship skills. Interested applicants may visit http://www.openlands.org/treekeepers to apply. The registration period closes on September 16, 2017.

To become certified as a TreeKeeper, participants must attend all eight classes; pass a written final exam; complete practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledge to complete 25 volunteer hours within a year of graduation; and adopt public trees in a park or a parkway. The College of Education at Aurora University will also offer two undergraduate or graduate credit hours for an additional fee. After certification, TreeKeepers can host volunteer workdays, attend advanced trainings, and adopt trees and parks to maintain.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Launches Website for Paddling In Northeast Illinois

***Online Guidebook is First Comprehensive Resource for Paddling in the Region***

CONTACT: Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312.863.6277, pwilliams@openlands.org

(Chicago – July 10, 2017) Openlands announces the launch of an online paddling guide for the Water Trails of Northeastern Illinois. The website provides detailed information on over 500 miles of water trails for non-motorized boating on 10 of the region’s waterways, and promotes paddling as an inclusive activity for local tourism and outdoor recreation. The free guide is available at paddleillinoiswatertrails.org.

“For more than 50 years, Openlands has partnered with many organizations to ensure our waterways are clean, safe, and accessible to the public,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “Friends of the Chicago River was founded as a project of Openlands, we facilitate annual river cleanups around the region, and we host regular paddling events to foster greater appreciation for nature from the Calumet to the Kishwaukee.”

“This resource makes the region’s waterways more accessible to everyone, even individuals new to paddling who might not own their own equipment,” explained Laura Barghusen, Openlands Associate Greenways Director. “This builds upon our work and the work of our partners to make water trails inclusive and to allow people to explore some of the most diverse habitats in Illinois.”

The online guide contains detailed, step-by-step descriptions for over 50 trips throughout the region, with information on skill levels, trail length, directions, and equipment rental locations. Interactive maps are available for each waterway, indicating launch sites, dams, and the paddling difficulty along the trail. Paddlers are also encouraged to help keep the site up-to-date by reporting log jams, unexpected water traffic, wildlife sightings, and other significant observations via the comments for each trail.

About the Water Trails:

  • Calumet Area Water Trails: These water trails connect paddlers to waterways of globally significant ecology while exploring the area’s industrial past. Open paddling is an option on Wolf Lake and Powderhorn Lake.
  • Chicago River Water Trails: From Skokie Lagoons or Evanston on the Northshore Channel, through downtown Chicago to Portage Park on the southwest side, paddlers can experience wooded areas, huge skyscrapers, and areas of historical significance on the Chicago River. The Chicago Park District’s new boathouses enhance access to these trails.
  • Des Plaines River Water Trails: The 95-mile long Des Plaines River begins in Racine County, Wisconsin and flows south through four Illinois counties. With multiple boat launches available in Lake, Cook, and Will counties, the river changes in character from a prairie stream to a large urban river, and then to a major industrial waterway.
  • DuPage River Water Trails: The DuPage River is a small-to-medium sized stream flowing through DuPage and Will counties, with east and west branches that meet south of Naperville. The trails include peaceful, scenic trips for beginner paddlers and rapids for whitewater enthusiasts.
  • Fox River Water Trails: The Fox River Water Trails begin at the Illinois-Wisconsin border, traveling south from the Chain O’Lakes into highly urbanized areas including Elgin and Aurora, giving way to more natural settings and many islands downstream in Kendall County. These water trails, which include multiple dams and power boat traffic, are trips suitable for all skill levels.
  • Kankakee River Water Trails: The Kankakee River provides great opportunities for paddlers to experience high quality aquatic habitat. Many sections have a gentle current and wide, shallow stretches. The water trail begins just east of the Illinois-Indiana border and flows west to the Kankakee’s confluence with the Des Plaines River.
  • Kishwaukee River Water Trails: This river’s watershed covers 1,257 square miles across six counties in northern Illinois. The Kishwaukee has some of the highest quality aquatic habitat of the 10 trails, offering chances for paddlers of all skill levels to view wildlife.
  • Lake Michigan Water Trails: Approximately 23 miles of Chicago’s Lakefront are almost entirely open, with many boat-friendly sand beaches throughout the city. This trail is for advanced paddlers, and part of the multi-state Lake Michigan Water Trail.
  • Nippersink Creek Water Trail: This water trail is an excellent way to experience the landscapes of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in McHenry County. With high quality wetlands and gentle waters, the Nippersink offers an easy and scenic trail.
  • Salt Creek Water Trails: Salt Creek Water Trails connect DuPage and Cook counties. Open paddling is available on Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Busse Lake, and the water trail begins below the lake’s dam, passing through high quality natural areas such as the Dorothy and Sam Dean Nature Sanctuary.

Openlands developed the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trail Plan in 1999 in partnership with Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, Illinois Paddling Council, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and multiple local government agencies. Grand Victoria Foundation provided essential support for the implementation of the Plan.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Conservation Organizations Celebrate the Passage of the Natural Areas Stewardship Act in the Illinois General Assembly

CONTACT: Brandon Hayes, Openlands, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Matt Steffen, Illinois Environmental Council, 847-830-2057, msteffen@ilenviro.org
Gelasia Croom, the Nature Conservancy, 312-580-2175, gcroom@tnc.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – May 31, 2017) Today, the Natural Areas Stewardship Act was passed in the Illinois General Assembly after unanimous approval in both the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives.

The Natural Areas Stewardship Act allows nonprofit conservation organizations such as conservation land trusts to conduct needed stewardship and restoration projects on lands enrolled in the Illinois Nature Preserve System. By applying for existing state funds, conservation land trusts can assist local and state agencies in caring for the 600+ Illinois Nature Preserve sites that provide habitat to 20% of Illinois conservation priority species.

The following statement was issued by Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council:

“Open space provides real environmental and economic benefits to Illinois’ residents and should remain a consistent priority among decision makers. Conservation Land Trusts are experienced in managing natural areas, and therefore make an ideal partner for a public-private partnership designed to promote stewardship of natural areas.”

The following statement was issued by Michelle Carr, State Director, the Nature Conservancy-Illinois:

“Local land trusts act as invaluable stewards of Illinois’ natural resources. This legislation provides conservation land trusts access to existing funds for stewardship purposes. The Nature Conservancy commends Representative Tom Bennett and Senator Jason Barickman for their leadership on the bill.”

The following statement was issued by Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO:

“The Natural Areas Stewardship Act better protects the last remaining fragments of Illinois’ wildlife and natural landscapes. The Illinois Nature Preserves are living museums, home to tallgrass prairie, oak savannas, sandstone bluffs, ravine ecosystems, and hundreds of rare wildlife species. By accessing state funds that are already dedicated to protecting these natural areas, we can work with public and private landowners of nature preserves to conduct desperately-needed stewardship actions. Openlands sincerely thanks Representative Tom Bennett (R-106) and Senator Jason Barickman (R-53) for their leadership, as well as our many supporters who contacted their elected leaders in support of this bill.”

The following statement was issued by John Sentell, President of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition:

“The Prairie State Conservation Coalition has identified stewardship of our last remaining natural areas as the most important issue facing conservation today and well into the future. The passage of the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act will go a long way to help protect and enhance these gems of Illinois Presettlement Landscapes by bringing private dollars to work with state dollars to provide stewardship to these sites. We thank Representatives Tom Bennett and Charles Meier and Senator Jason Barickman for sponsoring the bill.”

About Illinois Environmental Council
Since 1975, IEC has promoted sound environmental laws and policies in Illinois. We encourage decision makers in the private sector to go beyond minimum standards to establish new environmental best practices. We credit those who lead, innovate, and inspire others to follow their example. Visit us at www.ilenviro.org.

About the Nature Conservancy
Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest conservation organization in the world. Its mission is to conserve lands and waters on which all life depends. www.nature.org/Illinois

About Openlands
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

Prairie State Conservation Coalition:
Founded in 2005, the Prairie State Conservation Coalition represents the 41- Conservation Land Trust in Illinois. Conservation Land Trusts strive to improve the quality of life in their communities through voluntary protection of land, water and other important natural resources.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BOBOLINK MEADOW DESIGNATED AS ILLINOIS LAND AND WATER RESERVE

*** Designation adds over 900 acres to Illinois Nature Preserve System ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – May 22, 2017) Forest Preserves of Cook County and Openlands announce the designation of Bobolink Meadow Land and Water Reserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission on May 9, 2017. The 918-acre reserve is owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and it is located at the junction of Interstate-57 and Interstate-80, near Tinley Park, Illinois. The designation follows nine years of Openlands’ restoration project management, which has been funded through the O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account (OMMA). Restoration improved habitat for pollinators and more than 150 observed bird species, and included more than 300 acres of high quality wetlands adjacent to other conserved wildlife habitat.

“The Forest Preserves appreciate our partnership with Openlands, and their dedication to conserving and restoring land in Cook County. This project is helping us achieve one of our Next Century Conservation Plan goals of restoring 30,000 acres, in addition to adding to the amount of land that is designated as a Land and Water Reserve,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves. “Bobolink Meadow is next to Bartel Grassland, which is also a designated Land and Water Reserve, providing the public with exceptional ecological diversity to explore right here in Cook County.”

“Bobolink Meadow is exemplary for Openlands’ strategic land preservation focus,” explains Emy Brawley, Openlands Vice President of Conservation. “Bobolink Meadow lies in a 2,400-acre network of pristine Land and Water Reserves. By identifying and restoring conservation areas in proximity to one another like these, we create the habitat on the scale needed for wildlife to thrive.”

Bobolink Meadow is adjacent to the 585-acre Bartel Grasslands Land and Water Reserve, and both are in proximity to the 898-acre Orland Grassland Land and Water Reserve. It is home to the second largest bobolink population in Illinois, and it is among the state’s largest Land and Water Reserves. Through OMMA funds, Openlands has impacted 1,466 acres of Illinois Nature Preserves.

The Illinois Nature Preserve Commission promotes the preservation of these significant lands, and provides leadership in their stewardship, management, and protection. The Forest Preserves of Cook County currently has 23 dedicated Nature Preserves and four Land and Water Reserves. Openlands has assisted in the creation and restoration of more than 40 sites in the Illinois Nature Preserves system such as Glacial Park, Goose Lake Prairie, and the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve.

About the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.

Connect with us!

fpdcc.com
facebook.com/FPDCC
twitter.com/FPDCC
instagram.com/FPDCC

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

*** Summer certification course to be offered in Oak Park ***

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

(Chicago – April 25, 2017) Openlands announces that registration is open for the summer 2017 TreeKeepers certification course. Since 1991, Openlands has trained over 1,800 volunteer TreeKeepers to care for Chicago’s urban forest, identifying potential tree-related problems, and leading neighbors in tree planting and tree care.

Summer 2017 classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 1 through June 27. Weekday courses allow interested individuals with busy weekend schedules a chance to participate in the program. Tuesday and Thursday classes run from 6-9pm at Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center, 167 Forest Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302. Interested applicants may visit www.openlands.org/treekeepers to apply. The registration period closes on May 31.

The course costs $128. Tuition includes a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers badge, and TreeKeepers t-shirt. This summer Openlands will provide five scholarships to local residents and current Village of Oak Park employees.

All certified TreeKeepers go through the TreeKeepers program. Certification includes an eight-day course with classroom and field components; passing a written exam, completing practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledging 25 volunteer hours within the year following graduation; and adopting public trees in a park or on a parkway. Two undergraduate or graduate credit hours are available through the College of Education at Aurora University for an additional fee.

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MAYOR EMANUEL’S TREE PLANTING PROPOSAL

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MAYOR EMANUEL’S TREE PLANTING PROPOSAL

(Chicago – February 21, 2017) Statement by Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann:

Openlands applauds Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to use unclaimed property tax rebates for tree plantings in Chicago. We wholeheartedly support efforts to reduce crime and enhance community wellbeing on Chicago’s south and west sides. Our urban forestry work has supported those goals for over 25 years. Tree plantings not only increase community greening, which has been repeatedly demonstrated to reduce crime and aid community development, but also can be strong drivers of job creation.

Mayor Emanuel’s tree planting allocation of $500,000 is a small part of the proposed $15 million property tax rebate. The Bureau of Forestry’s budget for tree plantings has been repeatedly cut, and under this plan, plantings of 20 trees will take place in all 50 wards, providing substantial public benefit:

  • Trees in Chicago capture harmful pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and improve air quality;
  • Children play outside 10% more in tree-lined neighborhoods, and have lower rates of ADHD and asthma;
  • Trees provide a mentally restorative effect that decreases the incidence of violent crime by measurably improving mental health;
  • They retain storm water to reduce urban flooding across the city;
  • And trees mitigate the effects of climate change, which affects low-income and communities of color most.

This is a small, but vital investment in community development and public health that will yield significant results for all Chicago’s residents.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

(Chicago – February 13, 2017) Openlands announces that registration is open for the spring 2017 TreeKeepers certification course. Since 1991, Openlands has trained 1,800 volunteer TreeKeepers to care for Chicago’s urban forest, identifying potential tree-related problems and leading neighbors in tree planting and tree care.

Spring 2017 classes are held on Saturdays and Wednesdays from March 18 through April 12. Wednesday classes run from 6:30-8:30pm, and Saturday classes run from 10am-2:30pm at McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Rd., Chicago. Interested applicants may visit www.openlands.org/treekeepers to apply. The application period closes on March 17.

The course costs $128. Tuition includes a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers badge, and a TreeKeepers t-shirt. This year Openlands will provide five scholarships to local residents and current Chicago Park District employees.

All certified TreeKeepers go through the TreeKeepers program. Certification includes an eight-day course with classroom and field components; passing a written exam, completing practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledging 25 volunteer hours within the year following graduation; and adopting public trees in a park or on a parkway. Two undergraduate or graduate credit hours are available through the College of Education at Aurora University for an additional fee.

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS HELPS CITY OF WILMINGTON ACQUIRE NEW PARKLAND ALONG THE KANKAKEE RIVER

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS HELPS CITY OF WILMINGTON ACQUIRE NEW PARKLAND ALONG THE KANKAKEE RIVER

***Local Public/Private Partnership Is In Service of the Public Good***

(Chicago – February 8, 2017) On Tuesday, Wilmington City Council voted to finalize the acquisition of land on the South Island in the Kankakee River.  South Island is connected to downtown Wilmington by the historic Route 66, and the City has developed a vision for the South Island that increases open space and public use options.  The vision recognizes the South Island as a natural attraction that will draw tourists, support local businesses, and leverage Wilmington’s uniqueness in the region.  To support this vision, Openlands assembled the land from three separate landowners in 2011, and has held the property as interim owner since that time.  Owning the land now gives Wilmington flexibility and control in shaping the future of the site, and plans include developing a marquis gateway. Through working with Openlands, an accredited Land Trust, Wilmington was able to access grant funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to support the project.

“The effort to build onto and utilize a natural attraction like the Kankakee River, which was designated as a National Water Trail last year, will draw tourists, support local businesses, and leverage Wilmington’s uniqueness in the region,” said Mayor Marty Orr.

“Openlands is pleased to partner with Wilmington on this opportunity to advance open space and economic development goals,” said Openlands Vice President of Conservation Emy Brawley. “The City’s plan to increase open space and public use options on the island is good planning at its best.”

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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