What We've Been Up to...
July 2023 - $245,176 in Federal Funds Awarded for Habitat Connectivity Project in Partnership with Wisconsin DNR
Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Competitive State Wildlife Grant Program, McHenry County’s habitat will improve to support the state and nation’s vulnerable and declining wildlife. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and McHenry County Conservation Foundation, the philanthropic partner of McHenry County Conservation District, were awarded $245,176 in federal
funds for a partnership project to improve habitat connectivity in Southeast Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois.
By partnering across the WI-IL border to implement this work on public lands, restoration work will connect habitat areas on nearly 235 acres for pollinators, birds and herptiles associated with the wetland, prairie, savanna and oak woodland continuum. Specifically, these species include the federally endangered Rusty-patched bumble bee, Monarch butterfly, Henslow's sparrow, Blanding’s turtle and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified in the IL and WI state Wildlife Action Plans. More>>
June 2023 - $8K Schwemm Family Foundation Grant Closes Funding Gap for Glacial Park Prairie Restoration
A recent $8K grant from the Schwemm Family Foundation helped the McHenry County Conservation Foundation reach their $73,000 fundraising goal for restoration of 21 acres at Glacial Park Conservation Area in Ringwood, IL. These funds will be combined with previous grants received from Enbridge Fueling Futures, the Fairways Foundation, the Gerry and Bill Cowlin Foundation, and from individual donors to purchase the rich and diverse native seed mix necessary to restore high-quality prairie. More >>
June 2023 - $5,000 grant from the Lake in the Hills Rotary Club
With support from the McHenry County Conservation Foundation and a $5,000 grant from the Lake in the Hills Rotary Club, the McHenry County Conservation District and the Youth and Family Center of McHenry County (YFC) are starting a new program this fall focused on connecting families with nature through free camping trips. Through this new program, individuals served by YFC, a not-for-profit that works to ensure empowerment and growth for youth and families in McHenry County, will be transported to the Hollows Conservation Area in Cary, IL for overnight camping events that immerse them in nature through hiking, environmental learning opportunities, nature walks, and campfire programs.
March 2023 - Foundation Funds Native Mussel Reintroduction Partnership
McHenry County Conservation Foundation contributed $15,000 to a joint partnership project with McHenry County Conservation District and the DuPage County Forest Preserve District’s Urban Stream Research Center (USRC) to propagate and head-start juvenile elktoe mussels. The project aims to increase the population of this State and Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Nippersink Creek and its tributaries. A healthy population of mussels are important to our waterways because they help filter out bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms in the stream or river they inhabit and lower overall water pollution levels. Just one adult mussel can filter up to 18 gallons of water a day. The presence of mussels in a stream are also indicators of overall stream health and water quality. More>>
New Year, New Look! Foundation Unveils New Logo
January 2023 - Check out our new look as we refresh, evolve and expand our organization’s brand! Since our beginning in 1999, our professional profile has grown and evolved as we supported conservation efforts throughout the county. Our new logo reflects who we are today, symbolizes our dynamic future, and better aligns with the McHenry County Conservation District, while remaining true to our longstanding reputation of delivering positive results for public open spaces, natural resources, and our way of life and that of future generations. Read More >>
December 2022 - Foundation Awarded a $40K Mission Grant
The Conservation Foundation is one of 39 organizations serving McHenry County awarded a 2022 Mission Grant from The Community Foundation for McHenry County. This two year grant will provide the Conservation Foundation $20,000 each year toward general operating support and help support conservation and community goals through 2024. The Community Foundation for McHenry County is the leader in McHenry County for providing legacy giving opportunities to community donors and charitable
organizations. The Community Foundation serves to connect people who care with causes that matter, provide leadership, grant resources, steward assets and foster awareness.
August 2022 - Foundation Awarded $25K Grant for Glacial Park Prairie Restoration
The McHenry County Conservation Foundation was awarded a $25,000 grant from the FairWays Foundation to assist with restoration efforts of 21 acres at McHenry County Conservation District’s Glacial Park in Ringwood. Funds will be combined with an Enbridge Fueling Futures investment to purchase the rich and diverse native seed mix necessary to convert land to high-quality prairie grassland. This project ties together several hundred acres of restored and managed land within Glacial Park and supports the conservation of numerous threatened or endangered species, including the Blanding’s turtle, monarch butterfly, and the rusty patched bumblebee. The restoration work will also decrease sedimentation runoff into the North Branch of Nippersink Creek, one of the highest quality streams in the state of Illinois. The land conversion will also improve the ability of this area to recharge groundwater, which is where McHenry County residents receive 100% of their drinking water.
Foundation Receives ComEd Green Regions Grant
August 2022 - McHenry County Conservation Foundation was awarded a $7,500 ComEd Green Regions grant to support an engineering study for hydrologic restoration of a rare graminoid fen at Boger Bog Conservation Area in Bull Valley, IL. According to the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) only 358 acres of high quality fens remain in Illinois. As groundwater discharge areas, fens are good indicators of shallow aquifer health. For McHenry County residents, where 100% of drinking water comes from aquifers, protecting and restoring our wetlands is also ensuring the long-term integrity of our water supply. Boger Bog is an intimate 38-acre site managed by McHenry County Conservation District that supports a wetland that is not truly a bog (an acidic wetland community) but a rare graminoid fen (a grass-dominated ground water sustained alkaline wetland). Once engineering is complete, the Foundation and the Conservation District will continue with their commitment to fund additional phases of the project, ultimately leading to the complete restoration of this once high quality wetland community. Read More >>
Foundation Awarded $10K Enbridge Fueling Futures Community Investment
August 2022 - The Conservation Foundation was awarded a $10,000 community investment grant from Enbridge’s Fueling Futures program to assist with restoration efforts of 21 acres at McHenry County Conservation District’s Glacial Park site in Ringwood, IL. Encompassing 3,439 acres, Glacial Park is one of the largest contiguous areas of publicly managed land in McHenry County. Funds provided by the Enbridge Fueling Futures program will be used to purchase a portion of the rich and diverse native seed mix necessary to convert land from current row crop production to high quality prairie grassland. Restoration work will decrease sedimentation runoff into the North Branch of Nippersink Creek and the land conversion will improve the ability of this area to recharge groundwater. The total cost for this project is $99,965 and the Foundation is actively seeking additional support for the work. Read More >>
IDNR IL Habitat Fund Grant Supports Restoration Efforts for Bison Grazing at Pleasant Valley
June 2022 - McHenry County Conservation Foundation was awarded a $36,630 grant from The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Illinois Habitat Fund to assist with restoration efforts at the newly-established bison grazing area at Pleasant Valley Conservation Area in Woodstock, IL. The grant enables the McHenry County Conservation District to convert 90 acres of row crop to prairie, and enhance 33 acres of grassland and 50 acres of oak savanna within the bison grazing enclosure. This restoration work will improve habitat for multiple species in the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan including Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Monarch Butterfly, Henslow’s Sparrow, Upland Sandpiper, and Bobolink. The grant also supports the reimbursement of a Flail-Vac seed harvester which allows the Conservation District to collect more than 1,300 lbs. of native seeds per year that are used in habitat restoration projects on Conservation District properties throughout the county. Read More >>
Protecting the Habitat of the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
April 2022 - Thanks to donations made directly to the McHenry County Conservation Foundation, McHenry County Conservation volunteers planted 700 turtleheads, one of the main larval host plant of the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, at Glacial Park this past spring. The Foundation has committed $10K to support the multi-year reintroduction project, which aims to increase the population of this rare pollinator by increasing the sites where over-wintering plant hosts are found. (In 2021, 1,500 plants were planted as well.) Baltimore checkerspots are rare in the entire Chicago region. Important native “host” plants that adult butterflies visit to deposit their eggs and developing caterpillars rely on for food include Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), hairy beardtongue (penstemon hirsutus), and English plantain (Plantago lanceolate).
McHenry County Conservation Foundation Purchases 160 acre Camp Lakota
A Rare Land Protection Opportunity
The McHenry County Conservation Foundation—with the help of Illinois Audubon Society, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and individual donors—purchased one of the last remaining, high-quality natural areas not under permanent protection in McHenry County. Thanks to donor support, a 160-acre parcel in Hartland Township formally known as Camp Lakota, has been permanently protected for the benefit of all McHenry County residents. The property is adjacent the Conservation District’s Brookdale Conservation Area, a 1,620 acre complex of wetlands, prairie, and woodlands. A significant stand of remnant oak trees exist on the property and the juxtaposition of woodland and wetlands make this property ideal for supporting breeding populations of amphibians. The land also serves as an important recharge area for the county’s groundwater resources. (2021)
Awarded IAPD 2021 Best of the Best Partnership Award
The Illinois Association of Park Districts recognized the collaboration between McHenry County Conservation District, McHenry County Conservation Foundation, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and the Illinois Audubon Society for their purchase of 160 acres in Woodstock, one of the last remaining, high-quality natural areas in McHenry County, and awarded them the 2021 Best of the Best Partnership Award. The former Camp Lakota scout property is located just north of the 1,630 acre Brookdale Conservation Area. Thanks to the collaboration of this partnership, 1,837 contiguous acres are permanently protected for the benefit of all residents.
Foundation Launches Donor Recognition Wall
McHenry County Conservation Foundation hosted a donor reception and celebration for the official launch of their donor recognition wall, which is on permanent display at Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park. The donor wall marks the beginning of a new way to acknowledge significant commitments to nature and all that it makes possible. Together, we can have a powerful impact on the open lands and natural areas in McHenry County. We all can make a difference in the lives of current and future generations. Fall 2021
Ensuring the Vitality of our Wetlands
Over the past two years, Foundation support has made it possible for District staff to manage more than 60 acres of the Elizabeth Lake site. This work includes removing buckthorn and hiring a contractor with access to the appropriate equipment to apply herbicide to purple loosestrife and Phragmites. The District was also able to purchase a necessary mulching attachment for one of their tractors and use it to cut invasive brush, which opens up the area and gives native plants the opportunity to reestablish themselves.
Empowering Youth Through Programming
Youth and Family Center of McHenry approached McHenry County Conservation Foundation this summer with a funding request to cover the $500 cost of transporting people to a District-hosted program in Cary. With the cost of bus rental covered, forty children and adults from Youth and Family Services braved the 110-degree heat to make it out to The Hollows on July 1 for a family-oriented canoeing and fishing program on Lake Atwood.
Foundation Awarded $7K Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation Grant
The Community Stewardship Challenge Grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation offered an opportunity for members of our community to get involved in volunteer land stewardship and raise funds for the care and maintenance of Glacial Park's critical oak habitat. The first part set a $7,000 fundraising goal matched 3:1 = $28,000. In addition, The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation donated a bonus $4,000 after volunteers logged over 400 hours. These funds included purchasing native trees, shrubs, and hand tools, as well as supporting overall site upkeep and stewardship. The District successfully hosted seven stewardship events where over 120 volunteers helped plant 330 trees and shrubs, monitor and record pollinator species, and additional restoration efforts to help ensure that our oak woodlands survive for future generations. The project was completed in 2020.