The Legacy Campaign is a $16+ million community effort to accelerate the preservation of our special landscapes, relentlessly protect our rare species and habitats, and connect every person in our community to nature and all it has to offer.


Helping our planet begins at the local level. As a community, we are driven by our connection the open spaces and wild places around us. Lake Forest Open Lands proudly serves as the trusted expert in preservation, conservation, and environmental education. Our work touches the lives of local citizens from Waukegan to Wilmette, Lake Michigan to Mettawa.  

Since our founding, we have set the standard for what a local land trust can achieve for its surrounding habitats and landscapes. We are the first accredited land trust in Illinois and our accomplishments—fostering connection to nature, advocating for open land, and educating citizens of all ages—are evident in our community’s character.

Since the beginning, our work has depended on individuals. In 1967, a small group of local visionaries established Lake Forest Open Lands to save our rare and irreplaceable native landscapes.

In the decades since, we have grown with our community.


Open and protected landscapes support thriving ecosystems and vibrant communities. They not only provide homes to plants and animals but they also benefit our health and wellness, our economy, and our quality of life. What’s more, nature preserves—like the six we manage—facilitate access and offer year-round opportunities to develop deep and lasting connections to the natural world.



Land may be forever, but we can never take it for granted.

Ongoing threats—invasive species, a changing climate, increased development, and even public indifference—challenge us today to be champions for our remarkable landscapes.

As your conservation community leader, Lake Forest Open Lands is poised to tackle these threats and build on the core components of our mission for the next generation.

Today, Lake Forest Open Lands strives to preserve and restore new lands, expand our outreach, broaden our educational programming, and build on our foundation for a strong future.



Every dollar contributed to The Legacy Campaign is an investment in the open spaces and wild places where we live. Help us carry out the vision of our founders, build a strong future for our organization, and nurture our community.

We have more work to do, more land to restore and save, and more young people to engage. Will you help?

With your investment we will:

  • Restore and launch two new nature preserves
  • Expertly care for rare and special habitats
  • Retain our independence as a voluntarily supported nonprofit land trust that relies on $0 in local tax dollars
  • Build the resources to preserve more land
  • Respond immediately to targeted, high-priority preservation opportunities as they arise
  • Connect our preserves and community through green corridors
  • Expand and innovate environmental programming across age groups
  • Foster a conservation ethic throughout our community
  • Grow our Conservation Campus to provide a year-round, forever home for our programs


Thank you to everyone who has contributed!
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To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Paula Clair-Gould, Vice President and Director of Development at or 847.234.3880 x16

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