Press Releases

For Immediate Release - Openlands Celebrates 50 Years of Connecting People to Nature

March 21, 2013


CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes
(Media inquiries only)


***Nonprofit Organization Has Helped Protect More Than 55,000 Acres of Land for Public Parks and Forest Preserves, Land and Water Greenway Corridors, Urban Farms, and Community and School Gardens***

(Chicago) In 2013, Openlands celebrates its 50th anniversary, a major milestone in the organization’s commitment to conserve the natural resources of the greater Chicago region. Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich people’s lives. Openlands’ vision for the region is a landscape that includes a vast network of land and water trails, tree-lined streets, and intimate public gardens within easy reach of every city dweller. It also includes parks and preserves big enough to provide natural habitat and to give visitors a sense of the vast prairies, woodlands, and wetlands that were here before the cities.

“Openlands was among the first urban conservation organizations in the country,” said Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO since 1988. “We are hugely proud to celebrate a half-century of pioneering work that has literally changed the landscape of our region. Openlands’ multi-faceted approach—which includes outreach and education, technical assistance and planning, land acquisition and ecological restoration, and policy and advocacy—strengthens the impact we have had.”

Openlands’ History

Founded in 1963 to protect the open spaces of the Chicago metropolitan region—extending into southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana along the crescent of Lake Michigan—Openlands was at the forefront of the nation’s urban conservation movement then and remains so today. Openlands’ leadership and work have resulted in landmark and lasting conservation achievements, among them landscape-scale undertakings such as The Illinois Prairie Path, I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor, and the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Openlands’ impact extends from local school and community gardens in Chicago to trail networks—on land and water—that link three states. Volunteer programs such as TreeKeepers have empowered a generation to care for the region’s natural resources. Most recently, Openlands was responsible for the creation of the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve at Fort Sheridan in Lake County and the establishment of the bi-state Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in McHenry County, Illinois and Walworth County, Wisconsin. 

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