View All Illinois’ Protected Lands on One Map

Prairie State Conservation Coalition (PSCC) – an Illinois-wide nonprofit coalition serving conservation land trusts – is pleased to announce the release of a free, web-based application and viewer showing, for the first time, all natural lands protected in the state of Illinois. The web-viewer, named I-View, will significantly enhance the ability of actors across the state to connect conservation projects being led through public and private efforts at the local, regional and state levels.

I-View fulfills an identified critical need for accomplishing the widely-accepted goals of establishing an interconnected system of Illinois protected natural lands and waters. Large scale interconnected natural landscapes are critical to species survival and to the maintenance of important ecosystem services, and are embedded in the state’s Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Chicago Wilderness’ Green Infrastructure Vision, Grand Victoria Foundation’s Vital Lands Illinois network, and other local and state-wide initiatives. With I-View, future land acquisition and current management can be coordinated across ownership categories for the first time at a landscape ecological scale.

I-View was made possible by grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) and the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, both based in Chicago, with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The I-View team is composed of Angelo Capparella (Associate Professor, Illinois State University), Lisa Haderlein (Executive Director,The Land Conservancy of McHenry County), David Holman (GIS Contractor), and Gretchen Knapp (Adjunct Professor, Illinois State University). David Holman did the bulk of the technical work assembling the data and producing the web-viewer site found here:

ICECF Executive Director Dennis O’Brien said: “We were particularly impressed by the aspects of the project likely to lead to on-the-ground results by assisting users to identify and protect important connections between existing natural areas.”

Craig Shillinglaw of Chicago’s Openlands said: “Most important is the comprehensive and live nature of the data. It will lead to more cooperation and identification of opportunities throughout the conservation community in Illinois.”

The majority of mapped lands (over 10,000 parcels) met three criteria: (1) natural or restorable to natural condition, (2) permanently protected, and (3) primary purpose as a natural area. Ownership categories include the coalition of nonprofit conservation land trusts represented by PSCC, the IDNR, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Forest Preserve and Conservation Districts, and others.

In addition to the maps, a click on any parcel reveals key data such as acreage, owner, etc. Other map layers are provided that can be layered to provide information on topography, watersheds, natural divisions, legislative districts, etc. Especially important are the features enabling the creation of custom maps for a wide variety of purposes. PSCC will own, operate and update the site on a continuous basis.

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