Land Acquisition

The Foundation prefers to make awards to projects that purchase land outright and is proud to support the protection of wildlife habitat at natural areas throughout the state. To date, Foundation grants have assisted with land acquisition at Project Sites in 51 different counties in Illinois.

The Foundation will no longer consider projects seeking to purchase conservation easements through its Land Acquisition Program.

Please click here to start an application.


  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations
  • Local government agencies serving Illinois residents

All applicants (nonprofits and local government agencies) are required to provide a Federal Employer Tax ID/Employer Tax ID Number (FEIN/EIN).


  • Purchase natural habitat (as opposed to parks or other open space)
  • Apply all Foundation funds towards the direct purchase of the natural habitat. Up to $10,000 may be requested to help fund restoration activities during the first year after purchase.
  • Meet the minimum transactional requirements for payment:
    • willing seller
    • agreed upon price that is equal to or lower than the appraised value. If you are contemplating a purchase that would not meet this condition, call the Foundation to discuss before applying.
    • acceptable appraisal – the appraisal’s Date of Valuation must be within 12 months of the closing date.  It must be conducted by an Illinois-certified appraiser and commissioned by the applicant organization, not the seller.


  • Protect natural habitat
  • Projects that acquire 40 acres or greater
  • Identified as a priority for protection by a local, regional, or statewide conservation planning process
  • Connected to previously protected natural areas
  • Open to the public
  • Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about Land Acquisition

Additional Criteria


Eligible applicants may apply for up to 80% of the direct cost of the land and up to $10,000 for restoration activities to be completed within the first year after purchase.

Applicants may be awarded a grant at a lower amount than requested.

Please click here to start an application.


  • January 31, 2023 – CLOSED
  • July 20, 2023

Application Process

The following information will be required for the online application.

  • A completed Project Description Form
  • A completed Project Budget Form
  • Maps showing land to be acquired and location of the property in relation to previously protected natural areas and/or parcels also identified as conservation priorities
  • Organizational or departmental operating budget(s) – one for the most recent fiscal year and one for the upcoming fiscal year (if available)
  • A financial report for the most recent fiscal year including Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and any notes to financial statements
  • IRS letter confirming EIN
  • IRS Tax Status Determination Letter (for 501(c)(3)’s)
  • Your organization’s most recent Illinois Charitable Organization Annual Report filed with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office (for 501(c)(3)’s)
  • If applicable, a completed Restoration Budget. This budget should provide the breakdown of expenditures included under Immediate (first year) Restoration in your Total Project Budget.

A confirmation email is sent after an application is received.

The Foundation may follow up with additional questions for applicants.

Applicants will be notified of the Foundation’s decision on grant requests approximately three months after receipt of applications.

Award Process

The Foundation’s review process can take three months or longer.  The grant award process is competitive.  Some projects may be awarded at lower levels than requested; others may be declined altogether.