Who We Are

Chicago Wilderness Alliance

Chicago Wilderness is a regional alliance that connects people and nature. We are more than 300 organizations working together to restore local nature and improve the quality of life for all who live here, by protecting the lands and waters on which we all depend.

The members of Chicago Wilderness include local, state and federal agencies, large conservation organizations, cultural and education institutions, volunteer groups, municipalities, corporations, and faith-based groups.

In our rapidly urbanizing world, the Chicago Wilderness alliance pioneered a model for how organizations can work together, across a complex metropolitan region, to achieve greater conservation impact than any one organization can by working alone. Now a national leader in urban conservation, Chicago Wilderness helped create, and chairs, the Metropolitan Greenspaces Alliance (MGA). The MGA is a national network of urban conservation coalitions working to promote this collaborative approach, sharing knowledge and best practices across major metropolitan areas. Together, MGA members include more than 550 private, nonprofit, and public organizations from seven U.S. metropolitan regions, which together are home to more than 30 million people. 

Chicago Wilderness Region

Our region — including southeast Wisconsin, northeast Illinois, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan, holds nearly 545,000 acres of protected lands and waters, as well as many that remain unprotected. Our landscape includes prairies, wooded communities, Lake Michigan and other water communities.  Thousands of native plant and animal species live here among the more than 10 million people who also call the region home.

Our Work  

Our four key initiatives—to restore nature to health, to protect green infrastructure, to mitigate climate change, and to leave no child inside—reflect our commitment to using the best science, a collaborative approach to conservation, and a caring for both people and nature, to benefit all the region’s residents. The initiatives direct our efforts to protect and restore healthy, functioning natural systems that support healthy, vibrant communities across the region. 

We work at the landscape scale, because the ecosystems and watersheds that support the 10 million people living in the Chicago metropolitan region span parts of four states and cover 9,400 square miles. Our goal is to incorporate a third of this area into an interconnected network of lands and waterways to ensure a healthy and sustainable region for people and nature. 

We coordinate the efforts of diverse organizations, agencies, and businesses around regional priorities—Chicago Wilderness strategically focuses efforts, fosters networks, attracts new partners, creates shared tools, builds organizational capacity, and works toward systemic solutions that can only be accomplished through collaboration. We work efficiently, learn and adapt, and attract new resources to leverage the regional investments of the diverse members of Chicago Wilderness.