New National Wildlife Refuge Recommended for Illinois-Wisconsin Border

Sierra Club Inner City Outing to Hackmatack Area, September 2011. Photo courtesy of Dan Deters

Sierra Club Inner City Outing to Hackmatack Area, September 2011. Photo courtesy of Dan Deters.

Spring brings good news to Illinois and Wisconsin!

Map of US Fish & Wildlife Service's recommended refuge

US Fish & Wildlife Service's recommended refuge

Today the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommends the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge be established in McHenry County, IL and Walworth County, WI.

The Fish & Wildlife Service proposes a refuge which would link with and expand on existing lands already protected by the McHenry County Conservation District and Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.  Their aim is to provide large blocks of habitat for migratory birds and endangered species including declining grassland birds like Dickcissel, Henslow’s sparrow and short-eared owl which nest in restored prairies, the savanna-loving red-headed woodpecker, and wetland-dependent species like the least bittern, pied-billed grebe and the federally endangered Whooping crane. Core blocks of habitat would be linked by corridors which would allow migration of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and plants in the face of a changing climate.

The Hackmatack refuge would be the closest refuge to the Chicago, Rockford and Milwaukee metro areas, fitting nicely with the USFWS’s policy to establish refuges easily accessible to people living in urban areas. Hackmatack is a Native American word for the tamarack tree, rare this far south, but found within the proposed refuge’s boundaries.

The Fish & Wildlife Service is soliciting public comment through April 27 on their Environmental Assessment that evaluates and recommends establishment of the refuge. Detailed information can be found at the USFWS website. Two open house events to learn more about and submit comments on Service’s recommendation will be held on:

•Tuesday, April 3 from 5 to 8 PM at Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood IL

•Wednesday, April 4 from 5 to 8 PM at Brookwood Middle School, 1020 Hunter’s Ridge Drive, Genoa City WI

Sierra Club has made it easy to send the USFWS an email in support of the refuge.  Go Hackmatack! 

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3 responses to “New National Wildlife Refuge Recommended for Illinois-Wisconsin Border

  1. Will taxes in McHenry County be raised because of this proposed wildlife area?

  2. Please, is there any person I can contact about effect to taxes in McHenry Co. as lands become available to the New Wildlife Refuge area? This is really vital because of negative comments I have heard in the community.

  3. How will acquiring parcels of land for the refuge affect tax roles particularly residents of McHenry County Illinois?

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