Illinois Audubon Society Receives Grant for Restoration of Lake County Site

The Illinois Audubon Society has received a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation in support of native habitat restoration at the 17-acre 770 Westleigh Preserve owned by Lake Forest Open Lands in Lake County.

This effort advances a partnership between Illinois Audubon Society, Lake-Cook Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society and Lake Forest Open Lands.

The undeveloped 770 Westleigh Preserve was acquired in 2007 by Lake Forest Open Lands and was adopted as a stewardship site by the Illinois Audubon Society’s Lake-Cook Chapter in early 2020. The site contains woodland, upland, prairie and wetland habitats that combine to offer a high-quality birding site.

“The total cost to restore, monitor and study this preserve is substantial. The partnership with Illinois Audubon Society and the Lake-Cook stewards will be a critical component in achieving our restoration goals at this location,” commented John Sentell, President and CEO, Lake Forest Open Lands Association.

The grant will provide funds to continue a variety of critical habitat restoration activities, including invasive species removal, prescribed burns, native planning and species inventories, that will create quality open space as well as an improved environment for both resident and migrating birds.

“Our stewardship volunteers have already participated in multiple workdays, installed bluebird boxes and a purple martin system to encourage nesting of these species, and initiated a breeding bird survey on the preserve,” said Rena Cohen, President, Lake-Cook Chapter. “It’s an exciting project that is enabling us to make a difference right in our backyard.”

“We feel that this grant is directly in line with our mission to promote restoration of native habitat and increase the awareness and participation of volunteer stewards in these efforts. We applaud our Lake-Cook stewards for taking on this challenge,” stated Jim Herkert, Executive Director, Illinois Audubon Society.

The Community Stewardship Challenge Grant will match up to $7,000 raised at a 3-to-1 ratio, providing up to $21,000 in support from the Foundation. Any funds received beyond the $7,000 will also be used for future stewardship at 770 Westleigh Preserve. The completion of 600 additional hours of volunteer work at the preserve will qualify the project for an additional $6,000 in grant funds.

The mission of the Illinois Audubon Society is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of native plants and animals and the habitats that support them. The Society is an independent, member supported, not-for-profit, statewide organization. Founded in 1897, the Society is Illinois’ oldest private conservation organization with 2200 members, 18 chapters and 19 affiliate groups. The Illinois Audubon Society has protected more than 5,500 acres by investing $12.5 million to protect land and water throughout Illinois.

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