Who We Are

Openlands unites the people and resources of the diverse Chicago metropolitan region around the goal of land and water protection, providing a healthy vibrant space to live and work.

History

Founded in 1963 as a program of the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Openlands is one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation and the only such group with a regional scope in the greater Chicago region. Openlands has helped protect more than 55,000 acres of land for public parks and forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, urban farms, and community gardens.

Utilizing a number of conservation tools—outreach and education, technical assistance and planning, land acquisition and preservation, and policy and advocacy—Openlands adopts and implements long-term solutions that balance the inevitable growth of our region with the responsibility to protect our open spaces and natural resources for generations to come.

Mission and Vision

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 our 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. In sum, Openlands believes that protected open space is critical for the quality of life of our region.

Commitment to Diversity

Openlands maintains that achieving diversity requires an enduring commitment to inclusion that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms and behaviors. Throughout our work, we will support diversity in all of its forms, encompassing but not limited to age, ability, economic circumstance, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.