Conserve Lake County Has Merged Into Openlands


January 1, 2018

Following years of successful collaboration with each other that benefited Lake County, the local conservation organization Conserve Lake County has merged into Openlands, a regional organization that is nationally recognized as a land conservation leader and defender of nature in the region since 1963.

Openlands has protected more than 55,000 acres, including the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve in Fort Sheridan that opened one-mile of Lake Michigan shoreline to public access. The merger became official on January 1, 2018 when Conserve Lake County programs, properties, members, and staff became part of Openlands.

Openlands and Conserve Lake County share a culture of collaboration and deep commitment to Lake County, where they have been increasingly teaming up to protect land. For example, the organizations have worked together on multiple projects benefiting Lake County such as Route 53 issues, farmland protection, and the Liberty Prairie Reserve. They further collaborated to lead the nonprofit voice to pass the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s $185 million bond referendum in 2008 allowing for the purchase of 3,000+ acres.

This merger has created several benefits supporting the conservation work of both organizations including increased capacity, added efficiencies, expanded expertise in planning and restoration, and a deeper team of professionals working in Lake County. Both organizations have long histories of success and complementary missions to engage people in the conservation of land for the benefit of all.

To the members and supporters of Conserve Lake County, we welcome you to Openlands and we eagerly look forward to strengthening our partnerships.

Conserve Lake County staff members Sarah Surroz and Mary Fortmann are joining the Openlands team.

Sarah Surroz, Director of Lake County Programs,

Mary Fortmann, Sustainable Landscape Coordinator,

Please update your contacts.

For more information on the merger, please contact