Lake Cook Audubon Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve & Bartlett Ravine

The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve opened to the public on September 10, 2011.

Over One Mile of Undeveloped Lake Michigan Lakeshore

Image of Bartlett Ravine as it winds west from Lake MichiganThe “Curves Ahead” street sign at the end of Bartlett Ravine has been replaced with an obelisk art work featuring the multitude of hues found in the ravine. But it is only one of many modifications taking place in this historic and historically neglected ravine which meanders down to Lake Michigan.

Bartlett Ravine, one of several portals into the oddly shaped 77 acres that make up the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve has, in fact, become the poster child for ravine restoration. It is both a showcase for what has been accomplished as well as a laboratory to see what actually works.

Those involved in the ravine restoration effort rightfully gush about the removal of invasive species, thinning the tree canopy so that light will stimulate groundcover growth and rain ponds on ravine bluffs that stem the erosive effect of runoff from suburban lawns and homes built a bit too close to the edge.

Impressive as it is, Bartlett Ravine is merely the grand staircase that leads you down to the ballroom: almost a mile of uninterrupted and undeveloped sandy, wavy Lake Michigan shoreline harboring some rare as well as endangered Illinois plant species. This is pretty rare publicly available footage considering Illinois has only about 60 of these lakefront miles with much of it behind the gates of private owners.

An equivalent distance of handicap accessible bluff walkway winds 200’ above the lake providing a great path, breathtaking views and a perch from which to scope for waterfowl. The path includes bridges (and views) over The kind of vistas Illinois tourism directors will be claiming is just one of those “million miles from Monday” they feature in their promotions.

Opened to the public in September, 2011 the Preserve project is well underway but hardly complete as ravine restoration efforts continue and plantings take root along the bluff path.

Nature and Art

Openlands has also engaged artists to contribute their creativity to the Preserve project. Here is a brief video, taken at the Grand Opening of Lisa Roberts explaining one contribution:

Chapter members from Lake Cook Audubon have been active in the restoration project contributing:
  • Bird & plant species monitoring
  • Public Awareness of the Preserve
  • Leading bird tours
  • Participate in beach clean-up days
Your involvement in this magnificent project is welcome as well.

Additional Information about Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

Location, access, organizational and historical information can be found on the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve web pages:

Openland Lakeshore Preserve including directions, maps, podcasts and background.

Openland Lakeshore Preserve Grand Opening (September 10, 2011).
Getting Here

From Sheridan Road in Highwood, turn east on First Avenue and take  the very first left turn which is Lyster
Road.  Take the first right and drive a 100  yards into the parking lot. You are at the top of Bartlett Ravine, a 3/4
mile walk through a lush ravine to the Lake Michigan shore.

Volunteering doesn't have to mean you are signing up for the chain gang! If you have an interest in birds, plants,
habitat preservation, environment orecology, chances are you can findsome activity you would enjoy doing.That's our idea of volunteer. If you're interested, please contact us today.