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Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge

Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge


Located in McHenry County, Illinois and Walworth County, Wisconsin, an hour's drive from the 12 million residents of the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, and Rockford, newly-designated Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge is the only refuge found within 100 miles of Chicago. It will eventually protect 20,000 acres of diverse habitats, remnant prairies and forests, and pristine streams. 

Openlands played an essential role at every phase of establishing this area as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s premier system of protected landsOpenlands has worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service alongside an array of national and local conservation organizations partnering to build Hackmatack—including Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife RefugeSierra Club, Illinois ChapterThe Trust for Public LandThe Land Conservancy of McHenry CountyMcHenry County Conservation District, Illinois Department of Natural ResourcesMcHenry County Conservation FoundationDucks UnlimitedGeneva Lake Conservancy, and the Nippersink Watershed Association

Over time, Hackmatack will become a mosaic of protected lands providing habitat for grassland birds, recreation and education opportunities for people, and economic development for local communities. A variety of conservation tools will be used in the final creation of the refuge, including purchase of land from willing sellers; agreements with landowners, known as easements, that protect the conservation value of the land; and private stewardship agreements aimed at creating contiguous natural corridors.

The map below identifies how existing public conservation areas will connect to the 11,200 acres of Hackmatack and adjoining conservation corridors to create a unified 20,000 acre landscape.

Location: Illinois, Wisconsin
Owner & land manager: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Size of project: 11,200 acres
Project Date: Authorized August 15, 2012
Partners: Friends of Hackmatack, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, Trust for Public LandThe Land Conservancy of McHenry County, McHenry County Conservation District, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Conservation Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Geneva Lake Conservancy, and Nippersink Watershed Association.


The Land Conservancy of McHenry County

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