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Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is a 77-acre Illinois Nature Preserve in Highland Park, IL that is home to wooded ravines and some of our region’s most magnificent views of Lake Michigan. The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is home to three unique ecosystems — ravines, bluffs, and lakefront. These rare and fragile ecosystems exist together in only a few places in the region and require our utmost care and respect. 

PUBLIC NOTICE: Openlands has temporarily closed the Lakeshore Preserve for the protection of all.

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve Remains Closed as Investigation Continues

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic awarded a contract to a private firm on September 24, 2021 to study Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. This follows a site visit by NAVFAC Environmental experts on August 25, 2021 aiding in efforts to reopen the site. The preserve was forced to close for the safety of all the week of April 5, 2021, due to the discovery and disposal of three explosives. These items were safely removed and disposed of by the proper authorities.  NAVFAC advised the team that the study is slated to begin on the site this fall with a goal of completion before summer of 2022.

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is located on the former Fort Sheridan military base with shoreline and bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. The post was closed in 1993 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and ownership of a portion of the installation was transferred in 2007 to Openlands, a nationally accredited land trust. Openlands restored the natural areas, installed trails and artwork, secured designation for the property as an Illinois Nature Preserve, and opened the site to the public in 2011.

Naval Station Great Lakes, the City of Highland Park, Lake County, and Openlands have a weekly subject matter expert and leadership meeting to discuss efforts underway to support the return of public access to Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. The team is committed to addressing concerns to return the preserve to its intended purpose for the enjoyment of all. The team ask the public to respect the closure while an assessment is completed and do not enter the preserve.

To receive updates and announcements of reopening as they become available, please click here to be added to our communications list. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and understanding.

As a matter of security for the public, fencing has been placed in areas of the Lakeshore Preserve as a precaution where there otherwise would be public access to the site. Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is patrolled by Advance Security, to uphold the rules and regulations for the safety of all. Report violators to Highland Park Police: 847.432.7730

Audio Tour

Explore the Preserve through words of the people who know it best.