Skip to main content

Bird Watchers Rejoice

A prairie land

Photo credit Lorra Rudman

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, to advance the partnership between Illinois Audubon Society, Lake-Cook Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society and Lake Forest Open Lands. The undeveloped preserve was acquired in 2007 by Lake Forest Open Lands and adopted as a stewardship site by the Lake-Cook Chapter in early 2020.

The grant will match up to $7,000 raised at a three-to-one 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 the 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.

Photo credit Lorra Rudman

The site contains woodland, upland, prairie and wetland habitats that combine to offer a high-quality birding area. 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.

John Sentell, president and CEO of the Lake Forest Open Lands Association, says, β€œThe 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.”

Rena Cohen, president of the Lake-Cook Chapter, states, β€œOur 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.”