Gaining Ground

Illinois

253,491

Acres Protected

That’s about 192,039 football fields!

Land trusts have already conserved 61 million acres of private land across the nation — more than all of the national parks combined. Help us conserve another 60 million acres by the end of the decade.

Together, let’s keep Gaining Ground.

Visitors to Land Trust Properties

89,509

Visitors in 2020, more than double that of 2015.

Percent of Land Trusts That Provide Public Access to Their Lands

82%

Land trusts provide opportunities to recreate and recharge.

Number of People Served

26,740

Land trusts provide programs and activities to get people outside and learn about the land.

Miles of Trails

130

Walking, hiking and other outdoor recreation improve people's health and well-being.

Miles With Universal Access

3

Universal access trails are designed to be used by all people, regardless of ability.

Percent of Land Trusts Who Increased Community Engagement in the Last Five Years

79%

Land Trusts Are Deepening Relationships With:
  • People from various racial and ethnic backgrounds

  • Older adults or those living in retirement communities

  • People who identify as LGBTQ+

  • People living with disabilities

  • Veterans

Land Trusts Are Helping Address Community Needs, Including:
  • Youth education and development

  • Community and economic development

  • Food security and agriculture

  • Health and wellness

  • Social and environmental justice

Demographics

Every land trust is as unique as the community it serves.

Illinois land trusts are community-led and supported and protect lands and waters that help the entire state.

Active Land Trusts

27

A land trust is a nonprofit that conserves land by acquiring and stewarding land or conservation easements.

Learn more about land trusts
Alliance Member Land Trusts

22

Land Trust Alliance members commit to adopting Land Trust Standards and Practices as their guiding principles.

Learn about the land trust alliance
Accredited Land Trusts

8

Accredited land trusts undergo a thorough review of their practices in governance, finance, transactions and stewardship.

Learn about land trust accreditation

People

  • Members/financial supporters

    19,080

  • Volunteers

    5,872

  • Full-time staff

    96

  • Part-time staff

    57

  • Board members

    371

Land Trust Longevity

  • Oldest

    125 years old (1897)

  • Youngest

    15 years old (2007)

  • Median age

    38 years old

Percent of Land Trusts Who Increased Focus on Climate Change in the Last Five Years

71%

Percent of Land Trusts Receiving Funding to Address Climate Change

14%

Land Protected

There has been a 26% increase in Illinois land protected by land trusts since 2010.

Acre by acre, land trusts are helping to conserve Illinois lands, waters and ways of life.

2010
2015
2020
Total acres protected
200,470
232,054
253,491
+26%
Under easement
16,080
23,652
29,979
+86%
Owned
57,473
64,464
71,481
+24%
Acquired and reconveyed
57,321
73,738
79,274
+38%
Protected by other means
69,596
70,462
72,757
+5%

Disclaimer: Land trusts conserve land in many different ways and every project is unique. Category totals may change depending on how acres are reported by survey respondents to reflect the most current data and minimize double-counting. In some instances, the total may be greater than the sum of the separate categories due to organizations that provided total acres not broken down by category.

Percent of Land Owned and Under Easement Held by an Accredited Land Trust

78%

Source: 2020 National Land Trust Census

Total Public Funding for Conservation From 1998-2017

$1.7 billion

Source: Trust for Public Land's Conservation Almanac

Acres of Land Lost to Development From 2012-2017

61,300

Source: NRCS - Natural Resources Inventory

This information reflects data collected in the National Land Trust Census, the longest-running comprehensive survey of private land conservation in America. Learn more about the Census and see which land trusts participated in the 2020 National Land Trust Census.

Making a Difference

Illinois land trusts are gaining ground.

Land trusts across the state are helping find solutions to some of Illinois' most pressing issues.

  • Providing access to land for all: The accredited Lake Forest Open Lands manages the Center for Conservation Leadership to provide sustained programming to students who have shown an interest in nature and the environment but are not yet ready for, or do not have access to, internships at some of the major conservation organizations. The land trust also reached beyond Lake Forest, an affluent north shore suburb of Chicago, to include students from an economically and socially diverse range of neighboring communities in Lake County.

    Read more
  • Tackling climate change: The accredited Openlands provides TreePlanters Grants to communities in Chicago and the near south suburbs to provide new trees. The grants encourage resilience through planting trees and creating a network of neighbors to care for the trees. Planting trees is one of the simplest nature-based solutions to climate change and is a tangible way for individuals to make a positive impact on the environment.

    Read more
  • Saving family farms: The accredited Land Conservancy of McHenry County has been holding workshops for women who own farmland. The concept came from an organization based in Iowa called the Women, Food and Agriculture Network. The workshops are meant to provide a crucial link between women farmland owners and the resources they need to achieve their conservation goals by holding women-only meetings.

    Read more

Land Trusts Working in Illinois

Land Trust Alliance member land trusts, listed below, commit to adopting Land Trust Standards and Practices as their guiding principles.