Old Mill Forest

Project Profile

Project Location

Lake County, IL

Project Operator

Lake Forest Open Lands Association

Project Type


Project Credits


Credit Availability


Project Contact

Ryan London, President & CEO rlondon@lfola.org

Lake Forest Open Lands Association (LFOLA) preserved Old Mill Forest, a 56-acre forestland situated within a larger 102-acre property in Lake County, Illinois. Consisting of mature stands of old-growth oak and hickory, Old Mill Forest lies within the headwaters of the Westfork of the Chicago River. In addition to Old Mill Forest, the property boasts an impressive matrix of high-quality wetlands and a sedge meadow.

The property had been proposed for a 265-unit mixed-use development; through this acquisition, LFOLA is protecting one of the last remaining significant parcels in the area. Protecting the forest from development not only promotes air quality and protects wildlife habitat, it also improves stormwater management in the Chicago Region watershed, improving water quality and reducing flooding for downstream residents. LFOLA also plans to conduct restoration throughout the property and create a future public nature preserve for all to enjoy, with walking paths and trails for community recreation. LFOLA will include the project in their robust volunteer program, which will offer opportunities for people of all ages to engage with nature on their own terms, whether through vigorous citizen science monitoring opportunities, volunteer educator programs, or LFOLA’s Center for Conservation Leadership program.

This project is part of the Chicago Region Carbon Program (CRCP) and complements other tree planting and preservation projects in the seven-metro counties supervised by the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. Projects in the 2023 CRCP cohort include:


Forest preservation projects not only reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but provide ecosystem services or co-benefits that can be quantified. The co-benefits from this project represent a savings (avoided costs) of $111,773 per year, and $4,470,921 over 40 years.

  • Rain interception (stormwater management) – 12,079 m3/year, $86,486 per year
  • Air quality – 0.51 tons/year, $761 per year
  • Energy – cooling (electricity) – 95,088 kWh/year, $7,217 per year
  • Energy – heating (natural gas) – 1,777,981 kBtu/year, $17,308 per year

Social Impacts

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action and global partnership among all countries, representing key benchmarks for creating a better world and environment for everyone. Well-designed and managed urban forests make significant contributions to the environmental sustainability, economic viability and livability of cities.

The main SDGs for this project are described below, with more detailed information in the Project Design Document.

The Old Mill Forest is located within the Chicago River Watershed, and preservation of the trees will remove pollutants, provide an opportunity for residents to improve their wellness, and enhance biodiversity as it is adjacent to a larger complex of protected lands.


This project will provide downstream positive impacts on nutrient loading, flooding, algae blooms and water temperature, which will enhance downstream resident wellbeing.


This project protects important habitat for pollinators and bird populations, prevents erosion, and enhances soil health and nutrient cycling.

More information soon.

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