Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge Authorized
On August 15, 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced he has authorized the establishment of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, eventually providing up to 11,200 acres of habitat for wildlife as well as outdoor recreational opportunities within easy driving distance of millions of people. The Secretary was joined for the announcement at Glacial Park in McHenry County by Senator Richard Durbin, a longtime supporter of the project, and leaders from an array of conservation organizations.
“When President Obama unveiled his America’s Great Outdoors initiative two years ago, we set out to re-energize a conservation ethic for the 21st century and to help Americans reconnect to the natural world,” Salazar said at a gathering of conservation stakeholders. “Thanks in large measure to the work of local communities and stakeholders, the creation of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will help conserve wetlands and prairies in Wisconsin and Illinois, while offering Americans a place to enjoy the great outdoors.”
The refuge, which will not be officially established until the first parcel of land is purchased, will provide for restoration of wetlands, prairie and oak savanna habitat and provide a home for 109 species of animals and plants that are of concern. The list includes 49 birds, five fishes, five mussels, one amphibian, two reptiles and 47 plants. The Service will also provide ample environmental education and recreational opportunities for visitors, including the 3.5 million people within 30 miles of the refuge. It will eventually protect an additional 11,000 acres of diverse habitats, remnant prairies and forests, and pristine streams.
Land conservation methods for four core areas could include conservation easements or purchases from willing sellers, and private initiatives and partnerships aimed at creating contiguous natural habitat. The boundaries are based on the watersheds, existing conservation areas, habitat requirements for wildlife species of concern, public roads, and comments received from the public.
As is the case with the 556 national wildlife refuges nationwide, hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education and interpretation would be priority uses of the refuge. Large and small game and waterfowl hunting opportunities likely would be offered on refuge lands after a suitable amount of land is acquired. Ultimately, the refuge is expected to include land on both sides of the Wisconsin-Illinois border between Milwaukee and Chicago.
Hackmatack began as a grassroots movement that gained national support. In future years the wildlife refuge will bring economic, educational, environmental, and recreational benefits to the region. Hackmatack is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda.
To learn more, visit U.S. Fish & Wildlife: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Hackmatack
To learn more about the National Wildlife Refuge System, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges.
To learn more about America’s Great Outdoors Initiative: http://americasgreatoutdoors.gov