Millennium Reserve is a transforming region in the Calumet and southeast Chicago lakefront areas -- approximately 900 square miles in all -- with thriving commerce, communities, and wildlife. Our goal is to catalyze innovative partnerships and action in the region that:

    I.     Honor its cultural and industrial past;

    II.    Restore and enhance the natural ecosystems;

    III.   Support healthy and prosperous communities and residents; and

    IV.   Stimulate vigorous and sustainable economic growth.

The Reserve recognizes that conservation and sustainable land use in urban areas are inextricably linked to healthy communities and a robust economy.

Millennium Reserve stretches from downtown Chicago southeast to the Indiana border then into Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties and southwest to suburban Park Forest, Illinois. It encompasses numerous neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side, the southeast lakefront, and 37 south suburban municipalities on the Illinois side. In aggregate, the Reserve in Illinois includes a collection of over 15,000 acres of open space such as parks, trails, wetlands, and forest preserves. Nearly 6,000 of these acres are considered high-quality natural areas.

Millennium Reserve is a shared vision that unifies public, nonprofit, and commercial leaders seeking to make the most of the region’s assets. Moreover, it is an ongoing initiative guided by partners who understand community priorities, and it is designed to make on-the-ground projects happen. The initiative includes projects that range from neighborhood-based in scale to those of regional significance. Millennium Reserve recognizes the work of partners, particularly those whose decades-long commitment to the region have created the foundation for this initiative.

Partners provide their own human and financial resources. They catalyze action by focusing, leveraging, and augmenting existing resources and by working within a collaborative framework to achieve exponential results. These results are providing tangible benefits for the region that can be measured by job growth, new acres restored, increased public access to natural areas, and much more.

The State of Illinois launched Millennium Reserve in 2012 as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors call to action. From the beginning, however, the intent was to evolve Millennium Reserve into an independent and bi-state entity. A stakeholder-driven leadership -- including the Steering Committee, subcommittees, work groups, project teams, and State Agency Task Force -- was in place by 2013 with the State of Illinois as one of many partners. In 2014, the Partnership determined 14 priorities for advancing transformative, regionally-significant opportunities.

Since its inception, Millennium Reserve has welcomed nearly 100 official partners. 

Updated June 2016