About LCWC


Families enjoying Will County's natural heritage.

Families enjoying Will County’s natural heritage.

The Land Conservancy of Will County is a land trust formed in March 2005, with nine volunteer Board members, one part-time staff member and an office in Frankfort, Il.

Our mission is simple and very ambitious – to protect the places and landscapes we love in Will County, forever.  

The Land Conservancy works on this vision by:

  • growing a base of membership support from Will County residents and businesses,
  • working with private landowners across the county to support private land protection efforts – either through donations of land or by holding conservation easements for select landowners and,
  • promoting the value of habitat protection, native plant landscapes and open space planning to communities, homeowners, corporate partners, municipalities and developers.

To learn more about the history of our organization and the achievements we’ve made since our founding, click here:

LCWC History, from 2005 - today

LCWC was formed, in part, in March 2005 in response to a forward-looking Will County Land Resource Management Plan prepared by the Will County Planning Commission. The Planning Commission, realizing that the region was poised to grow at a rapid pace, drafted the Management Plan as an effort to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative impacts of landdevelopment in rural areas. The Management Plan advocated directing “development into and around existing communities and service areas, with substantial open space permanently preserved throughout the County.” The Plan specifically mandated that as a condition for county approval of new conservation developments in unincorporated Will County, at least 50% of the land area of each development is preserved as open space. While the Management Plan calls for the retention of open space in planned developments,it does not promote any particular use of the open land, which could equally be turned into mowed lawns, golf courses, or ball fields. The founders of the Land Conservancy saw an opportunity to help direct the uses to which open space would be put by developers and homeowners’ associations, and to coordinate the undeveloped land into open space corridors. This use of the land would serve to protect conservation values including restored habitat for indigenous plant and animal communities including migratory species, and allow restoration of the water table, the filtering of water-borne pollutants and the diminution of floodwater volumes. The optimal way to ensure that open space in conservation developments stays open and supports conservation values in perpetuity is to use a conservation easement. However, developers discovered that existing land trusts were imposing very steep fees to accept easements in conservation developments, given the high costs of potential legal challenges to unauthorized use of the open space by homeowners or others. Not surprisingly, developers were unwilling to pay these fees, and settled for less secure methods to protect the open space. In response to this situation, the Land Conservancy of Will County entered into a working relationship with Will County whereby the County creates a Special Service Area for each subdivision that uses a conservation easement to protect its open space. Through taxes imposed on the homeowners in the Special Service Area, the County can insure that the open spaces remain open and are properly cared for according to the terms of the easement. This enables the Conservancy to accept conservation easements at a reduced risk and therefore reduced costs for developers, and at no higher cost to homeowners than they would have paid without the Special Service Area tax. The Conservancy can therefore dedicate more of its resources to educating homeowners and charged with the responsibility of maintaining the open space. By 2008, the Conservancy had accepted a conservation easement on one conservation development in Will County and was considering applications for three others. 2008 – present Since the economic downturn and associated slowdown in conservation developments beginning in 2008, the Land Conservancy has refocused on preserving natural areas centering on Will County and concentrating on wetlands, streams, headwaters and wetland buffer areas. Within the Will County and southwestern Cook County region, the conservancy is targeting areas vulnerable to future development for land preservation efforts. Within such vulnerable areas the conservancy particularly seeks to protect (1) river-and stream-course habitats and buffer areas and (2) wetland and wetland mosaic habitats. The conservancy’s land protection efforts will complement those of public land management agencies and other conservation organizations, especially as part of a larger effort to enhance greenspace connectivity. Recent work: May 25, 2010: The Land Conservancy of Will County Awarded Capacity building Grant for Preservation of Wetland Greenspace. Frankfort – As Will County continues to grow and develop, additional natural areas and greenspace may now be set aside for the benefit of people and wildlife. In the spring of 2010, The Land Conservancy of Will County was awarded a $40,000 two-year capacity building grant by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for preservation of wetlands and wetland buffer habitat. The Conservancy’s work during the two years of the grant will focus on protecting some of the last remaining wetlands and wetland buffer areas in Will County and holding conservation easements on wetlands vulnerable to development. The first year of the grant will be spent on capacity building activities, such as increasing membership support and strategic planning, to ready the conservancy to pursue wetland protection activities starting in the second year of the grant and continuing thereafter. “We appreciate the confidence that the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has placed in the Land Conservancy of Will County, and we are excited at the prospect of increasing protection of vulnerable wetlands in our region,” said Mary Carrington, a PhD biologist at Governors State University, and the chair of the Land Conservancy’s board of directors. The Conservancy’s board of directors is a multidisciplinary group of dedicated volunteers with expertise including natural areas conservation, land development, community planning and land use law.

Our Board of Directors include the following extraordinary volunteer citizens: 

Karen D’Arcy, Board Chair, Professor of Chemistry at Governors State University.

Andrew Blackburn, Secretary, Ecologist and Wetlands Scientist.

Nelson Collins, Treasurer, Village of Beecher Treasurer, businessman.

Jeff Boubelik, Frankfort Resident and former Executive Director of Frankfort Park  District.

Mary Carrington, Professor of Biology at Governors State University

 

We are currently seeking new board members!  If you are passionate about land conservation and are willing to donate your time for a few hours a month, please let us know!

 

Staff: Jamie Viebach, Executive Director  

For questions, please email landconservancyofwillcounty@gmail.com