Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge has evolved through partnerships. It began with local citizens concerned with conserving natural areas in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. Those citizens talked to others and partnerships formed. A group called the Friends of Hackmatack coalesced around the idea of establishing a national wildlife refuge to complement existing conservation lands in the area. The number of partners grew to over 40 organizations sharing this common goal of establishing a refuge. Through the efforts of these partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to study the feasibility and benefits of establishing a refuge in the area. After two years of planning and public involvement, the Service concluded that a refuge would contribute to its mission.
The refuge was authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director on July 10, 2012. Hackmatack became a formally established refuge on November 6, 2012 with a donation of a 12-acre easement from Openlands, a Chicago based partner. The easement was paid for by generous donations from the McHenry County Conservation Fund and the Friends of Hackmatack. The State of Illinois working through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources purchased the larger 72-acre tract for conservation purposes from Openlands and agreed to the Fish and Wildlife Service easement on the property prior to purchase. The McHenry County Conservation District approved an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources to assume management responsibilities for the 72 acres. The process to acquire the first 12-acre easement exemplifies the partnerships that created the refuge and that will ensure its future success.
Partnerships with landowners, neighbors, conservation organizations, and local, county, state, and other federal government agencies are a crucial component of a successful Hackmatack Refuge. Public and private partnerships will be essential to the success of the future management of the refuge.
Primary management responsibility of specific Refuge parcels could be conducted through formal cooperative agreements with the State of Illinois and the State of Wisconsin or with county government conservation agencies. The McHenry County Conservation District in particular could be a very active partner in providing land management assistance.
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Blanding's turtle features a domed shell and a yellow throat and chin giving the appearance that it has a permanent smile.