Cook County, Illinois

Cook County is the largest and most populous county in Illinois, including the city of Chicago, where Openlands is headquartered. Like Lake County, Cook shares a coastline on one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, Lake Michigan. While much the land-use in Cook County is developed, though it boasts a robust forest preserves system, with over 70,000 acres devoted to natural areas including woodlands, marshes, prairies, and hundreds of miles of trails.

Since Openlands’ founding as part of the Metropolitan Welfare Council of Chicago, it has been committed to connecting urban dwellers with nature close to home. Openlands work in Chicago and Cook County focus on building advocates for nature through community-driven tree plantings and care, environmental education, and working with partners like the City of Chicago and Forest Preserves of Cook County to acquire and restore land for future parks, preserves, and natural areas. Our work in policy and advocacy expands and deepens these efforts, by pursuing policies and land-use decisions that protect habitats and wildlife, and the health and well-being of residents across the metropolitan region.

Growing the Tree Canopy

Openlands works in Chicago and Cook County to engage people in the care and growth of trees in their neighborhood.

Protecting Land + Water

Openlands protects land and water in Cook County with partners like the Chicago Park District and Forest Preserves of Cook County, ensuring the health of residents and equitable access to nature near where they live.

Educating Schools + Communities

From creating open green space on Chicago Public School campuses to building advocates for the urban canopy, Openlands seeks to create daily opportunities for people to discover and explore nature in the hope of inspiring life-long environmental stewards.

Driving Policy Solutions

Openlands policy works bring our conservation to the scale of the region, state, and nation. We provide technical assistance, collaborate in planning and strategy that creates a healthier region.