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Chicago Region Land Conservation

We offer general operating and project-specific grants that lead to landscape-scale land preservation and stewardship. We support efforts throughout the Chicago region with a current focus on five priority landscapes: Calumet, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Grand Kankakee, Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. We also encourage and participate in strategic land conservation partnerships.

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Chicago Wilderness VisionTo Protect and Restore
There are nearly 10 million people living in Greater Chicagoland, making it the third largest metropolitan region in the country. Nevertheless, there is a long tradition of preserving land. Currently, more than 550,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands and prairie lands are permanently protected. Chicago Wilderness – a coalition of more than 300 public and private organizations – has a goal to expand, buffer and connect those protected lands further still (see map at right). The ultimate goal is to achieve a thriving, interconnected network of approximately a million and a half acres. Occasionally, when opportunities arise to preserve lands of exceptional strategic significance, we offer Program Related Investments as bridge funding.

To Grow Stronger
Protecting more land is a big job. Stewarding it long-term is an even bigger job. That’s why we offer general operating grants to sustain land conservation organizations, as well as capacity-building grants to help them meet expanded land conservation opportunities. We also encourage partnerships and collaborations to accelerate and enhance our region's conservation goals.

To Advocate Change
Some land conservation happens with easements or acquisitions. Some with volunteers armed with loppers. Some occurs at the policy level. For this reason, we support advocacy efforts to align regional planning and on-the-ground results with established land conservation goals.