“The generation now living may very well be that which will make the irrevocable decision whether or not America will continue to be for centuries to come the one great nation which had the foresight to preserve an important part of its heritage.”
—Joseph Wood Krutch
The Land Conservancy of Lake County (LCLC) was formed as a not-for-profit apolitical Illinois land trust corporation whose primary purpose is the protection and management of natural and open lands, throughout the Lake County region.
LCLC was founded in 1988 by a group of environmental professionals and concerned citizens. The founding group realized that the rapid urban growth which took place in Lake County during the 1970's and 80’s, placed a secondary value on the role of the environment in the everyday life of Lake County citizens. Local governments were rapidly annexing new subdivisions and providing urban infrastructure and progressive protecting governmental entities were enacting new regulations aimed at natural resources such as wetlands, floodplains, lakes, and streams. Open Space planning was being addressed by communities throughout the County. As these important issues were being thrust into the spotlight it became evident there was a need for a citizen based County wide organization to help address environmental protection and management solutions. Back in 1988 there were (still are) numerous environmental organization and land trusts found throughout the County, but none were Countywide. LCLC was thus incorporated to fill this void. LCLC can own land of any size and as an independent corporation with its own charter, bylaws, and Board of Directors can cooperate and coordinate with citizens, groups, and governments throughout Lake County.
The goals of the Land Conservancy of Lake County are similar in many respects to other groups, such as the Nature Conservancy, CorLands, or the Lake County Forest Preserve District. These organizations, however, are primarily interested in acquiring lands of exceptional ecological quality or those that comprise large tracts ranging from several hundred to several thousand acres in size. A landowner who wishes to preserve a small woodland with a conservation easement, or offer a land donation as a living legacy, or even a developer required to set aside a wetland, often has difficulty understanding available conservation options and finding an entity willing and able to assume long term management responsibilities. LCLC seeks to fill this void by accepting land, donations, and/or conservation easements of any size, while also providing public education and awareness of conservation issues throughout the county. LCLC also prides itself in its educational commitment to students in local schools by providing students with natural science experiences emphasizing hands on participation in LCLC conservation projects.
The first president of LCLC was Donna Haskins. She was a concerned citizen and founding member from the Mundelein area. Other notable directors who served on the Board of Directors include William “Bill” Rockar, Libertyville; Francis Metzger, Wadsworth; Carroll Schaal, Grayslake; Betty Ann Ralston, Antioch; Sean Weidel, Waukegan; Peter Winkler, Lake Forest; Jeffrey Koziel, Lake Villa; Timothy Phelan, Waukegan; and Randolph Stowe, Alden (McHenry County).
The early years of LCLC concentrated on the development of policies for the group, public relations, and membership. In 1989, the group acquired its first substantial property, the 8 acre Dover Pond site in Ela Township. Subsequent years resulted in the addition of several more properties including the 1995 addition of the 32.5 acre PoHickory site in Newport Township. Today LCLC owns 90+ acres of properties located in four townships throughout the County.
During this early period for the group, LCLC continued in its efforts to develop collaborations with other organizations and governmental bodies. By the early 2000's the organization was well established looking forward to the future. Several Federal and State grants helped propel LCLC into the intensive management activities at our PoHickory site which continue through today.
A decline of memberships, board turnover, and limited citizen volunteering began presenting challenges for the group in the mid 2000s. Collaboration was established with a local author to publish the book Barns of Lake County in 2004. This same year the organization began working with the Chicago Region Land Conservancy Collation (CRLCC) composed of similar groups for common environmental goals. LCLC developed a strategic plan in 2007 outlining future directions for the organization. In 2008 the group participated in a grant-funded study to explore the possibility of combining with Liberty Prairie Conservancy (LPC) of Libertyville. LCLC did not pursue this possibility after the 2009 grant findings. A complete remodeling of the PoHickory rental residence occurred from 2009 through 2011. Donation of materials and volunteer labor was utilized for the project.
Presently LCLC is still reliant on citizen and group volunteers to carryout the organizations programs involving land management, property maintenance, and educational endeavors. Collaborations and partnerships are sill a primary goal of the group, along with the core mission of preservation by ownership of land by LCLC. For example, LCLC continues as part of the Chicago Area Land Trust (CALT). Since the 1990's LCLC has worked with a number of educators and schools to provide for field instruction and experience for students.