Openlands Lakeshore Preserve: A New Gem Along the Lakefront

It’s a rare environmental victory when 77 acres are saved from becoming a gated community and are preserved as open land.

When Fort Sheridan closed, the northern section was divided into housing for Great Lakes Naval Base; the new town of Fort Sheridan, which includes the historical buildings; and Lake County Forest Preserve. The southern section needed a champion to keep it as open land, and then-Representative Mark Kirk approached Openlands to see if they could help.

“We all wanted the lakefront, bluff and ravines to stay in the public domain and complement the land to the north,” says President and CEO of Openlands Jerry Adelman. The group looked for a partnership, but couldn’t find a conservation organization able to take on the ownership and restoration.

Faced with the prospect of the land being sold and developed as a gated community, which would have ruined a rare ecological habitat, the board of Openlands made the commitment to raise $13 million to restore and manage the land in perpetuity. In 2006, the land was given to Openlands, and with several generous grants, they have restored the ravine ecosystem and upland trails.

To celebrate this accomplishment, Openlands in hosting the grand opening of the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, a family-friendly nature destination for visitors of all ages. The preserve features more than a mile of scenic Lake Michigan shoreline, towering bluff-top trails and original art installations interpreting aspects of nature in the site’s 77 acres. It includes trails through wooded ravines and along bluffs that rise 70 feet over the beach.

Activities for the day include:

  • Tours of the newly restored upland trails
  • Birds of prey demonstration
  • Art activities for kids
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Kite flying and a stunt-kite demonstration
  • Light refreshments

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
COST: FREE. The event is free and open to the public.
WHERE: Located just 25 miles north of Chicago, the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is in the town of Fort Sheridan. From North Sheridan Road, park on either Lyster or Westover roads; and proceed east by foot to reach the top of Bartlett Ravine, the main entry to the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve.

Founded in 1963, 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. For more information visit, openlands.org