The McHenry County Board two years ago called for an assessment of the Hackmatack proposal, although, as it turned out, the Service had already decided to do it, anyway. Spanning as much as 11,000 acres including a big chunk of McHenry County as far south as Crystal Lake, the proposed refuge would link and expand existing conservation areas to help migratory birds and endangered species to become the biggest wildlife-dependent recreation area near Chicago.
The Assessment includes four alternatives but the one Midwest Region 3 Fish and Wildlife staffers in Minnesota like best would include purchasing land from sellers, conservation easements, and private initiatives to create a big donut of contiguous natural habitat. The Assessment says it hosts 109 species of concern and endangered species including 49 birds, 5 fish, 5 mussels, 1 amphibian, 2 reptiles, 47 plants and, apparently, at least 9 insects.
The first open house will be on Tuesday, April 3, from 5 to 8 pm at the Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Ringwood. The second will be the next day from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Genoa City, WI at the Brookwood Middle School.
The Service will accept comments on the Environment Assessment until April 27. Written comments can be submitted at the open house events or sent through the Service’s Planning website at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Hackmatack/index.html
In the pic: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's broad-brush outline of the proposed Hackmatack Wildlife Refuge including McHenry County.