Lake Forest Open Lands Association celebrates 50 years this month with a gala event.
Here is a timeline of how it all got started.
As Lake Forest Open Lands Association (LFOLA) marks its 50th anniversary this month, we look back at the milestones that took a humble vision for one singular nature preserve to a vibrant nonprofit organization that now manages 800 acres, six nature preserves, and an environmental education program.
“There is a special story we’re celebrating this year,” wrote President John Sentell in a recent LFOLA Grass Roots newsletter. “It’s a story that began in 1967 when a small group of concerned citizens rallied to save a lovely, isolated parcel of original prairie before it was lost to development. Working together, they protected this pristine portrait of our natural history right in our own back yard, forever.”
To say this organization is a community treasure is an understatement Here is a glimpse back at LFOLA milestones over the last 50 years:
Lake Forest Open Lands Association (LFOLA) is founded.
LFOLA purchases first parcel of land from McLaughlin family to begin the Skokie River Preserve. In 2009, the preserve is more than 140 acres.
Partnership begins with Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Public schools to provide outdoor environmental education.
LFOLA undertakes its first major land restoration project with the renovation of Haffner Meadow at Skokie River Nature Preserve.
LFOLA purchases the McIlvaine estate, which becomes the 26-acre West Skokie River Nature Preserve and represents the first conservation development in Illinois. That same year, it also hosts the first annual Bagpipes and Bonfire event—carrying forward Howard Van Doren Shaw’s family tradition of an autumnal party and bonfire began in the early 20th century.
Fifty acres are preserved from the Childs/J. Ogden Armour estate to create the Mellody Farm Nature Preserve.
The 22-acre Derwen Mawr farm property is added to the Skokie River Nature Preserve.
The 37-acre Everett Farm Nature Preserve is created from the James property, representing LFOLA’s second conservation development project.
Through partnership with Lake County Forest Preserve District and the City of Lake Forest, LFOLA purchases and preserves ELAWA Farm and adds 550 acres to the Middlefork Savanna, a nationally-recognized black soil savanna.
LFOLA joins Chicago Wilderness. It also issues $10 million in tax-exempt public bonds to fund restoration of four nature preserves, becoming the first land trust to use this financing tool.
The Lockhart Family Nature Center at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve, now home to LFOLA’s Conservation Campus, opens in the restored Odgen Armour gatehouse.
More than 1,400 families and area residents now support LFOLA.
LFOLA purchased the 22-acre Dickinson property on Westleigh Road, contiguous to the West Skokie River Nature Preserve.
The Open Prairie Society, a legacy society for LFOLA, is formed.
LFOLA agreed to the permanent preservation, restoration and transfer of McCormick Ravine.
For more information about Lake Forest Open Lands Association, including its 50th anniversary gala on Saturday, June 24, visit www.lfola.org.