Lake County, Illinois

As Illinois’ most biologically diverse county, Lake County has a richest assortment of plants and wildlife, and the greatest number of rare species. Offering a coastline on one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, it also features an uncommon number of oak groves, glacial lakes, streams, prairies, wetlands and rare kinds of natural areas.

Because of this, Lake County is one of Openlands’ four priority landscapes in our area or work. We have a long history of working here to protect the land and engage people in conservation. From our work at the Liberty Prairie Reserve to the merging with Conserve Lake County in 2018, Openlands has consistently partnered with the people and organizations to protect and revitalize this precious land.

And our programs speak to a dynamic commitment to land protection.

Lands in Harmony

Looking for information or advice as you incorporate conservation-friendly practices into your landscape? We can help.

Land Preservation

We’re working with landowners, the Forest Preserve District and others toward the goal of preserving at least 60,000 acres by 2030. Openlands holds conservation easements on 24 properties and owns several parcels. Nationally accredited, we steward each of these under the rigorous standards of the Land Trust Alliance.

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

Visit the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve about 25 miles north of Chicago in Lake County, free to the public and open every day.

Liberty Prairie Reserve

In the heart of Lake County is a 6,000-acre area where more than half the land is permanently protected as open space. Trails wind through nature preserves and farmland and connect schools, train stations, and local businesses. Openlands has worked on this for over 30 years. We own land and hold conservation easements on many acres here.

Lake Michigan and Clean Water

To protect Lake Michigan for all who depend on it, Openlands works with many communities and agencies on stewardship and planning. Also, our paddling program in Zion, Waukegan and North Chicago, and our Lakeshore Preserve in Highland Park are increasing the number of people who can enjoy and advocate for the lake.

Driving Policy Solutions

Openlands brings its strength against efforts that threaten open space and quality of life in the region. Transportation is a pressing issue, and we remain engaged in developing beneficial solutions to the Route 53/Tri-County Access Project.

Birds in my Neighborhood

Openlands partners with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to deliver Birds in my Neighborhood in Lake County, and organize in-class lessons, bird walks, and field trips.