New Refuge Close to Chicago
Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, located in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, will restore wetlands, prairie and oak savanna as well as provide new and expanded recreational opportunities for environmental education, interpretation and other wildlife-dependent recreation for the estimated 3.5 million people within 30 miles of the project area. Grassroots supporters of the refuge have already been recognized as the Friends of Hackmatack. Hackmatack is the 561st national wildlife refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System and is the tenth refuge established during Secretary Salazar’s tenure.
“Thanks to the vision of conservation leaders and organizations throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area, Hackmatack will provide a way to connect children, families and all urban and suburban residents to nature and wildlife,” says Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
The refuge will benefit a variety of wildlife and plants and their habitats. The boundaries were formulated based on the soils, historic vegetation, watersheds, existing conservation areas, habitat requirements of desired wildlife species, public roads, and comments received from the public. It will link and expand existing conservation areas to benefit migratory birds, endangered species, and provide wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar celebrated Hackmatack Refuge and five others established in 2012 last week when he laid ceremonial planks on the boardwalk at Pelican Island Refuge in Florida, the nation’s first. The others are Valle del Oro and Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuges (NM), Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area (CO), Swan Valley Conservation Area(MT), Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge (FL). A plank was also laid for the renamed Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (AL).
“Each time we establish a new national wildlife refuge, we set aside a treasured landscape, conserving our priceless fish and wildlife and their habitat not only for this generation but for future generations,” said Salazar. “We also provide a place for people to connect with nature through fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor recreation. This not only restores the spirit and refreshes the mind but also supports economic growth and jobs in local communities.”