Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division Mission Statement
To plan and facilitate the use of Land Preservation and Natural Resource staff, expertise, equipment and facilities in a cost-effective, efficient manner to achieve the goals of ecological restoration and management on Conservation District sites.
Edward Collins, Director of Land Preservation and Natural Resources
Brad Woodson, Natural Resources Manager
Sandy Rogers, Administrative Assistant
Gabe Powers, Natural Resources Projects Coordinator
Valdon Siler, Land Preservation Manager
Lost Valley Visitor Center
7210 Keystone Rd., Richmond, IL
Major Areas of Concentration
The Administrative Section is involved in supervision of all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the Natural Resource Management Department. However, several specific areas of concentration are the direct responsibility of Administration. These include:
- Preparation and annual updating of the site natural ecosystem management plans currently completed for District sites.
- Preparation of the annual Land Preservation and Natural Resource Division budget.
- Preparation & coordination of yearly work plans for all six NRM Sections.
- Preparation and updating of the Land Preservation and Natural Resources land acquisition recommendations for the Board of Trustees.
- Preparation of grant proposals to fund Natural Resource related programs and projects.
Preparation of Natural Ecosystem Management Plans
Sites owned or managed by the McHenry County Conservation District receive a completed Natural Ecosystem Management Plan to guide management activities. This plan is based on a careful inventory and assessment of the existing natural resources within a site, their current condition, management threats or problems, and the actions necessary to maintain and improve the ecological health of those natural resources. Every site is divided into management units and assigned a management priority based on the natural heritage elements present within the unit. Each year, work plans are created to address the most pressing management issues on sites District wide. Management plans are updated annually, based on the projected work plans as well as work completed in the previous year.
Preserve Design & Land Acquisition Recommendations
The Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division possesses a unique familiarity with the landscape of McHenry County, stemming from decades of accumulated first hand knowledge of its natural heritage. This enables the department to play a valuable role in the development of a long-term land acquisition plan to meet the goals established by the Board of Trustees. The department regularly publishes a report identifying the most critical parcels worthy of long term protection within McHenry County. This report also explains the ecological tenants that underpin the McHenry County Land Acquisition Plan, what design methods are used to create biologically viable preserves and the current ecological status of each preserve in the District’s system. The division also maintains a working database of every land acquisition ever completed by the District since its inception in 1971. The database is currently updated twice per year to ensure it will reflect accurate acreage estimates and site size
Natural Resources Grants
The Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division augments its regular funding with external grant monies wherever possible. The department seeks both government grant opportunities, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Flexible Funding program and the State of Illinois Conservation 2000 initiative, and funding from the private sector as well. Grant funds are generally utilized in two ways. The first is to leverage existing funds as a match to gain additional monies from the grantor. This allows NRM to either enlarge the scope of a project or defray its overall costs. The second use involves direct grant funding not requiring a match of cash or in kind services to completely fund or reduce the cost of departmental projects. To date the Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division has received over $1.3 million dollars in grant and wetland mitigation funding from a number of sources. These grants have been obtained from 17 different funders. Several of these entities have provided monies for multiple projects over a number of years. The large and growing number of partnerships the NRM department is able to enter into on behalf of the District is due in large part to its excellent reputation across the region with grantors for outstanding dollar value, quality work, and timely completion of grant funded projects.