Protecting Public and Private Land

Since 1963 Openlands has helped to protect more than 70,000 acres in northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region. As Chicago’s regional land trust, we drive regional conservation strategies by building strategic partnerships, supporting planning efforts and offering technical assistance, engaging elected officials, and empowering local advocates.

Openlands provides technical assistance that can include purchasing key parcels of land, ensuring they are permanently protected as open space, wildlife habitat, trails, parks, and other community assets. Our key focus areas include Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Lake County, Illinois, and Cook County. Openlands has also protected more than 2,500 acres of public and private lands with conservation easements, such as Chicago’s North Park Village Nature Center, which recently received permanent protection of over 100 acres of open space, and the Prairie Crossing Community in Grayslake.

Land Trust Alliance Accreditation

Openlands has been a Land Trust Alliance Member since 1983, and in 2013, Openlands was accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. As an accredited land trust, we apply best practices in land protection transactions and offer decades of experience in conserving the green spaces of the Chicago Wilderness region for all to enjoy.

Request to Comment as part of Openlands’ Land Trust Reaccreditation

The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. Openlands is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation. A public comment period is now open and you can help us by submitting a comment.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. The accreditation process is a vital element in Openlands’ conservation work, ensuring the best standards and practices are instituted across our organization in service of our mission to conserve nature for life.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Openlands complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the complete list of standards, see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/help-and-resources/indicator-practices.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments, 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. 

Comments on Openlands’ application will be most useful by May 26, 2023. Thank you!

Conservation Easements

Conservation easements provide assurance that beloved places are protected in perpetuity, creating a lasting legacy for future generations.

Providing Technical Assistance

Over the past 30 years, Openlands has assisted government entities at every level of jurisdiction in preserving open space.

Food and Farmland

Openlands works with landowners to implement conservation-friendly practices on working lands and ensure that the farmland in our region stays as healthy.