Established in 1967, Lake Forest Open Lands Association is an independent, non-profit land trust. Its mission is devoted to the acquisition and stewardship of our natural landscapes and to ensuring that all generations have a meaningful, lasting connection to nature and our land. The organization focuses programmatic activities in four specific areas:

  • Land Acquisition and Preservation
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Environmental Education
  • Conservation Advocacy

Lake Forest Open Lands is proud of its leading edge accomplishments within the land trust community. Since its beginnings, Lake Forest Open Lands has acquired, reserved, restored and maintained over 800 acres of local native landscapes including prairies, savannas, woodlands and wetlands for the benefit and enjoyment of the local communities. The organization actively manages 6 nature preserves and over 12 miles of walking trails.

Lake Forest Open Lands has been a pioneer in the use of conservation development and conservation financing techniques and serves as a resource to other emerging conservation groups in communities nationwide. In 2009, Lake Forest Open Lands became the first Illinois land trust to earn accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, recognizing the organization’s commitment to high quality non-profit management and land conservation.

Lake Forest Open Lands Association has long emphasized environmental education. Keeping with the belief that education is key to maintaining community support for the long-term
commitment needed to sustain the protection, restoration and maintenance of threatened native ecosystems and open space, Lake Forest Open Lands has for many years provided a conservation element to the science curricula of local schools and offered a summer day camp for kids in grades pre-K through 6.

In 2009 the organization took this commitment a big step further, launching the Center for Conservation Leadership (CCL). This initiative provides more sustained programming to students who have shown an interest in nature and the environment but are not yet ready for, or do not have access to, internships at some of the major conservation organizations.

In establishing CCL’s mission, Lake Forest Open Lands reached beyond Lake Forest to include students from the diverse range of neighboring communities in Lake County. The concept of environmental stewardship is no less relevant to urban dwellers than it is to suburban or rural residents, and it is vital to establish a strong conservation ethic in all communities.

To learn more, please visit Lake Forest Open Lands

“When I started to work with animals and conservation, through CCL, it became clear to me how valuable life really is. I gained a greater passion for the environment.”

Check it out!

We are accepting applications for the CCL 2018 program! The dates are June 11 - June 29. Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
Calling all adventurers! Join us on Sunday, January 28 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Gorton Community Center, Lake Forest for an afternoon of adventure films  from the MountainFilm on Tour Festival and learn how you and your family can engage with the outdoors! Experience Mountainfilm shorts curated specifically for the whole family to enjoy and then visit our expo to learn more about the outdoor adventure and environmental opportunities in Lake County.
Follow us on Facebook to see updates of our CCL students in action!