What We Do

Calumet Area

Calumet Area


Since the 1970s, Openlands has connected the people of the Calumet region to nature by increasing public access to open space, empowering community groups and local governments to care for the region's natural resources, and promoting a regional culture of conservation by developing an interconnected network of protected and productive green ways, water trails and open spaces.

The Calumet region is a unique, bi-state ecosystem in the Lake Michigan basin composed of over 15,000 acres of river systems, parks, trails, rare dune and swale, and savanna. The region provides a unique opportunity to not only protect open space and precious wildlife habitat, but also to develop green recreation as a means of aiding economic resuscitation.

In 2011, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced the Millennium Reserve and appointed Openlands President & CEO Jerry Adelmann Vice Chair of the Millennium Reserve Steering Committee, a coalition of federal, state, and local partners created to implement a vision for a renewed Illinois-side of the Calumet region. Released in June 2014, the Millennium Reserve Steering Committee Report outlines a plan to reinvigorate this region by expanding recreational access at sites such as Lake Calumet and restoring its important wildlife habitat as a cultural asset and economic driver. 

Openlands' commitment to the bi-state Calumet region includes the development of new recreational opportunities and innovative studies of Midwestern headwaters within the Calumet region's river systems. With the support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Openlands has helped create over 150 miles of new greenways and water trails through the adoption of the the Greenways & Blueways Plan by the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission in 2007 and has laid the groundwork for future development of cross-state trail connections in the Calumet region.

Openlands will continue to faciliate the development of productive and protected open spaces such as the proposed bi-state trails and green recreation at Wolf Lake, and will continue to support the passionate efforts of local leaders including Jim Landing, Marian Byrnes, and members of the Southeast Environmental Task Force to develop a regional culture of conservation.

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