Together, we have successfully run two Open Space Referendums, ultimately providing $141.5 million in funds to purchase open space, and have protected more than 5,600 acres through direct acquisition costs. These lands ensure that essential habitat for native plants and animals is preserved and protect, and created additional recreational sites for public use.
Since the creation of the District, over 25,000 acres of land have been protected; public places that will safeguard our groundwater, provide open spaces, and offer homes to countless plants and animals. More protected open space means a brighter future for all citizens of Illinois.
Past Land Acquisition Projects:
Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge - Purchasing the Cornerstone
After more than eight years of dedicated efforts by many individuals and local conservation groups (most notably, the Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge), the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge was established in July 2012. To legally establish a Refuge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to own land, yet no federal dollars had been appropriated. The McHenry County Conservation Foundation, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Openlands partnered to purchase the first parcel of land within the Refuge boundaries. On November 6, 2012 the 11,200 acre Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s 557th National Wildlife Refuge, was formally established through the transfer of a 12-acre conservation easement from the McHenry County Conservation Foundation. Read more about this landmark land purchase.
Acquisition of Camp Algonquin
Grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, Oberweiler Foundation, and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, helped the Foundation leverage funding from the state to secure this unique parcel. It represents unique river bluffs and wetlands, and provides important woodland habitat for avian species migrating along the Fox River corridor.
Acquisition of Boone Creek Headwaters
The Foundation was able to leverage some of our own funding to secure grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and state legislative funds to purchase several tracts of land adjacent to the former Bull Valley Hunt Club just east of Woodstock. This parcel secured protection of the headwaters of Boone Creek, a biologically significant stream that supports a diversity of aquatic species.
Acquisition of Boone Creek Headwaters Phase II
Acquisition of the former Bull Valley Hunt Club secured protection of the Boone Creek headwaters.
Elizabeth Lake Acquisition
Through the Conservation Foundation’s Individual Donor Program, we received a very generous donation specified for land acquisition. We worked closely with the donor and the Conservation District to match a land acquisition project to the donor’s interests. Protection and conservation of the Elizabeth Lake Conservation was a high priority for the District. This site is home to nineteen endangered and threatened plant and animal species that require the diverse matrix of wetland and aquatic communities found there.
Elizabeth Lake and Vargas Archeological Site
Through the Individual Donor Program, the District was able to find enough in matching funds to secure this site. This site represents one of the last remaining undeveloped shoreline parcels of Lake Elizabeth in Illinois. The Illinois Natural Areas Inventory identified Elizabeth Lake as the highest quality lake ecosystem remaining in McHenry County and is home to nineteen endangered and threatened plant and animal species that thrive in the diverse mosaic of wetland and aquatic communities there. This sole remaining private parcel really was key in protecting the shoreline of this exceptionally fine lake. A narrow excavation (i.e., channel) through the high quality sedge meadow attests to the owner’s intention to develop this site for home sites and lake access. With our financial contribution, the Conservation District has been able to leverage the funds necessary to complete this transaction. The District plans to ultimately dedicate this site as an addition to the Lake Elizabeth Nature Preserve, ensuring its protection in perpetuity.
Goose Lake Natural Area - Losbough Tract
Our acquisition of the home and out-buildings at this site allowed the Conservation District to expand the Goose Lake Conservation Area by 164 acres. A lot of work involving zoning, home repair, and real estate transactions were necessary, but in the end, we were able to save the McHenry County Conservation District over $225,000 for future land acquisitions at this site.
Brookdale Conservation Area - McKinney Acquisition
The involvement of MCCF not only helped to expand the Brookdale Conservation Area, but saved the Conservation District $80,000. In addition, our actions allowed a long-time tenant the unique opportunity to purchase the home in which they had lived for many years.
Without membership support, the Foundation would not be able to provide the resources necessary to secure these valuable funds.