About the Refuge and Contacts

Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge banner

Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge is located in McHenry County, Illinois and Walworth County, Wisconsin. The refuge aims to restore and connect a landscape that includes large blocks of grasslands, wet prairies, and natural stream watercourses.


Purpose of the Refuge

The purpose of the refuge is to contribute to the mission and goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System by:

  1. Protecting and enhancing habitats for federal trust species and species of management concern, with special emphasis on migratory birds and species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
  2. Creating opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation, while promoting activities that complement the purposes of the refuge and other protected lands in the region.
  3. Promoting science, education, and research through partnerships to inform land management decisions and encourage continued responsible stewardship of the natural resources of the region.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) seeks to provide refuge visitors with an understanding and appreciation of fish and wildlife resources through environmental education and interpretation and through wildlife-oriented recreational experiences to the extent these activities are compatible with the purposes for which a refuge is established. The official Service land acquisition policy for urban refuges is to acquire lands and waters in or adjacent to metropolitan statistical areas to protect fish and wildlife resources and habitats that will provide the public wildlife-oriented recreation, education, and interpretation opportunities. The primary purpose for establishing a new urban refuge is to foster environmental awareness and outreach programs, and to develop an informed and involved citizenry that will support fish and wildlife conservation.   

Hackmatack Refuge will contribute to a long-standing vision held by conservation organizations across the Greater Chicago metropolitan area. These partners have worked to identify key lands for conservation, open space, and greenways aimed at providing a way to connect urban and suburban residents with nature. Establishing the refuge provides an anchor for this broad-based conservation and environmental education initiative.

Environmental Assessment 

Establishment of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was evaluated through a public involvement process and in an environmental assessment that was completed on May 16, 2012 with a Finding of No Significant Impact by the Service Regional Director. On July 10, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Director authorized proceeding with the establishment of the 11,200-acre Hackmatack NWR. On November 6, 2013 the Hackmatack NWR was formally established through the transfer of a 12-acre conservation easement to the Service. The easement was purchased for the Service by Openlands through a donation from the Friends of Hackmatack and the McHenry County Conservation Foundation. This is the only land currently part of the refuge.


For more information, contact:

Russ Engelke, Supervisory Wildlife Refuge Specialist, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge - Savanna District, 815-273-2732 (ext. 113), russell_engelke@fws.gov


Ed Britton, District Manager, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge - Savanna District, 815 273-2732 (ext. 111), ed_britton@fws.gov