Located in McHenry County, Illinois and Walworth County, Wisconsin, an hour’s drive from the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, and Rockford, the newly-designated Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will eventually protect 11,200 acres of diverse habitats, remnant prairies and forests, and pristine streams.
The Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s premier system of protected lands. Openlands worked with an array of national and local conservation organizations to have the Refuge established in 2012. Hackmatack is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda. Now that the Refuge is established, Openlands is working to ensure that critical natural resource lands are forever protected.
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.