Thursday, June 4 at 12:30 p.m.
Lace up your hiking boots or saddle up your horse and join us for the Dedication & Grand Openingof McHenry County Conservation District’s newest multi-purpose trail, Thursday, June 4 at 12:30 p.m., at Brookdale Conservation Area, Paulsen Entrance, Route 14 and Paulsen Rd., Woodstock.
After a short presentation, help us cut the ceremonial ribbon and then on your own meander a 1.5 mile trail loop or venture the entire 4.5 miles on your own. The trail skirts along a woodland border, past the edges of an agricultural field, and around two fishing ponds.
“The significance of this 4.5 mile, multi-use trail addition which will provide McHenry County residents access to another great outdoor recreational amenity, is that it would not have been made possible without the involvement and advocacy of numerous community partners,“ said Board President David Brandt.
In 2013, the Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County made up of the Bull Valley Riding Club, the McHenry County Horse Club, the McHenry County Saddle Club, the Riding Club of Barrington Hills teamed up with the McHenry County Conservation Foundation to jump start a fundraising initiative to implement Brookdale Conservation Area’s Master Plan, to add the 4.5 mile horse and pedestrian trail system, as well as temporary and permanent horse trailer parking lots, and access to two fishing ponds.
As momentum in the project grew, additional groups came forward to provide financial support including the Spring Grove Horse Show and the Illinois Equine Research and Promotions Board.
Together they have raised approximately $21,700 through a combination of fundraisers and grants. The group’s goal is assist the Conservation District by raising $25,000 for the local match of a $160,000 federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant submitted on behalf of the Conservation District.
Brookdale Conservation Area in Woodstock is a 1,645 acre site which opened to the public in 2000. This trail addition will complement the existing 1 mile looped nature trail, picnic shelter, 11 acre fishing pond and observation deck accessed off Route 14 or the Paulsen Rd. Entrance.
Fifty-Nine Acres of Natural Land Protected through Creative Partnership
McHenry County Conservation Foundation, McHenry County Conservation District, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) and the Grand Victoria Foundation recently worked together to preserve 59 acres of wetland, woodland and prairie in Richmond Township that fall within the footprint of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.
The preserved land is in an area of exceptional natural quality and provides a vital steppingstone between Glacial Park, the Conservation District’s Wildlife Resource Center and TLC’s Dick York Conservation Area. An oak woodland sits atop a glacial ridge that slopes down to a sedge meadow and creek. The woodland, first surveyed by TLC’s Oak Keepers in 2008, contains many old white oak trees, which is an uncommon type of oak woodland in McHenry County. The McHenry County Conservation Foundation provided funding for the 20 acres that the District purchased, and Grand Victoria Foundation’s Vital Lands Illinois program awarded a grant to help TLC buy the adjacent 39 acres.
“It was a package deal,” said Jan Kennedy, TLC’s Board President. “The District would not purchase the 20 acres unless TLC raised the funds to buy the 39 acres, and vice versa.”
“Creative partnerships like this are a perfect example of how land in McHenry County will be protected moving forward. As open space agencies experience limited resources, it is the pooling of our resources that will have the greatest impact on preserving land for future generations,” said Brad Semel, President of McHenry County Conservation Foundation. “We are excited to be able to work together for the successful protection of another large block of woodlands, prairie and wetlands.”
This is the second Oak Legacy project McHenry County Conservation District and The Land Conservancy have completed together after entering into a Memorandum of Understanding in 2013 that opened the door to collaborative land preservation work. The first was the protection of the McHenry County Community Research Forest, a 92-acre oak woodland in Dunham Township, made possible by a grant obtained by the Conservation District from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation that was matched by the value of a 40 acre conservation easement donated to TLC by private landowner, Al Van Maren. Published 3/12/2015
We are proud to report that the Powers-Walker Homestead (circa 1850’s) located in Glacial Park received Historic Landmark Designation from the McHenry County Board. This restored historic Greek Revival style house not only ensures our connectivity to the McHenry’s past but is a model program of what can happen when individuals, especially volunteers, come together in support of a common goal! More than 17,000 hours of volunteer work has gone into restoring the home. Congratulations to Gail Brown, Powers-Walker volunteers, Board of Trustees, staff and the preservation and conservation community for a job well done! Published 2/2015
Special Thanks to Senator Pamela J. Althoff, Senator Karen McConnaughay and Representative Michael W. Tryon for their sponsorship, support and advocacy of Senate Bill 3341
Co-Sponsor Representative Ann Williams; Representative Barbara Wheeler and Representative Timothy L. Schmitz.
The bill amends the Conservation District Act and clarifies that voter-approved bonds are excluded from non-referendum debt limit, specifically for the McHenry County Conservation District. Moving forward, as non-referendum debt is paid down, the District can, like other units of government, issue new non-referendum debt for limited purposes and only on land acquired via voter-approved referendum up to its statutory limit of .575% as allowed under the Conservation District Act.
The passing of this legislation allows the District to be in a position financially to make long term plans for purposes outlined in the amendment, which include maintaining trails, parking lots, bridges, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance requirements, and structure demolition or stabilization as well as consideration toward the future of Camp Algonquin, recently listed on Landmark Illinois’ Top Ten Most Endangered Places in Illinois, but is falling into disrepair and is at serious risk of being lost.
On behalf of the Conservation District Board of Trustees and Staff we truly appreciate our legislator’s tireless efforts and continued support as well as the members of the Illinois General Assembly that voted in support of the legislation, which will allow the District to continue to fulfill its mission for serving all of the residents of McHenry County. Published 12/4/14
Award Winning Glacial Park Ski Patrol ~ The National Ski Patrol awarded the Glacial Park Ski Patrol the Most Outstanding Nordic Patrol in the Central Division, which encompasses a seven state area. These volunteers have extensive training in ski techniques, outdoor emergency care and winter rescue protocols from the National Ski Patrol. On snowy weekends the volunteer ski patrol cruises the rolling trails at Glacial Park making sure cross -country skiers are having a safe and enjoyable experience. Congratulations! Published 11/24/14
Conservation District to Refinance Bonds for a $12 Million Dollar Savings to Taxpayers – Giving Thanks!
McHenry County Conservation District is seeking to refinance its Series 2005A and 2007 General Obligation Bonds from its current rate of approximately 5.0% to a lower of approximately 2.5% rate. The result is an estimated $12 million dollars in present value savings over the life of the bonds, or the next 12 years, that will be passed onto the taxpayers in terms of a lower annual tax levy to pay off the debt issue.
“The District is taking advantage of historically low interest rates that are occurring at the same time our bonds are eligible for refinancing,” said Conservation District Board Treasurer Bona Heinsohn. “The Conservation District is continually seeking ways to stay fiscally responsible and realize taxpayer savings.”
The District plans to refinance $116.37 million of outstanding General Obligations bonds. This debt was approved directly by the voters of the County for the specific purposes of land acquisition, habitat restoration and additional public amenities and recreational improvements. “The overwhelming support for the Conservation District by our taxpayers over the past four decades has been nothing short of remarkable,” stated McHenry County Conservation District Board President David Brandt. “It’s nice that the bond debt refinancing presents an opportunity for the Conservation District to, in a small way, return the favor.”
“While the savings generated by the bond refunding does not mitigate the strain the District is experiencing in managing the wide open spaces preserved and public access improvements approved by the voters due to the District reaching its statutory rate ceiling of 10 cents for every $100 in EAV, it demonstrates our longstanding fiduciary stewardship and accountability to the tax-payers of McHenry County, a value at the core of our mission,” stated Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler. ”The District is hopeful that programs, sites and services can be sustained at current levels through a strategic shift in revenue streams, such as donations, gifts, sponsorships, and cost recovery through fees and charges.”
The Conservation District held a special board meeting Wednesday to engage the services of bond counsel, financial advisor, and underwriter to provide the parameters for the refunding. The actual transaction will occur later in November. Released 11/6/14
District receives $5,000 Grant from The Volunteer Stewardship Network
The Nature Conservancy Volunteer Stewardship Network secured a regional grant from The Alfred Bersted Foundation to provide extended support to volunteer groups in McHenry, Kane, DuPage and DeKalb counties. McHenry County Conservation District portion totaled $5,300 to be used toward the purchase of tools and supplies associated with habitat restoration projects such as herbicide, sprayers, chain saws, seed collection bags, safety equipment and gloves. Published 11/4/14
Conservation District Partners with Lincoln Park Zoo on
Smooth Green Snake Project
A collaborative conservation effort between Lincoln Park
Zoo and McHenry County Conservation District aims to boost the population numbers of the smooth green snake. Several gravid females were captured and transported to Lincoln Park Zoo where they laid several clutches of eggs that hatched. The zoo is rearing the baby snakes for future release in McHenry County late spring or summer of 2015. Published 11/4/14 More>>
Chicago Wilderness ranks Pleasant Valley Conservation Area as Excellent! Pleasant Valley Conservation Area was awarded the Platinum level in Excellence in Ecological Restoration from Chicago Wilderness. This is the second year of Chicago Wilderness’ Excellence in Ecological Restoration Program, which recognizes the achievements and commitments of land preservation agencies in the tri-state area. Published 11/4/14 More>>
Queen Anne Prairie Macrosite/Barber Fen Restoration
Staff and volunteers gathered on an October morning to plant 350 oaks and hazelnuts on roughly 10 acres along the south bank of Nippersink Creek in the Village of Greenwood.
The project was funded in part by a matching grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 Grant Program (IEPA). Published 11/4/14 More>>
McHenry County Audubon assists District with Blue-Winged Warbler Habitat Project
McHenry County Audubon donated $500 to the Conservation District for the purchase
of native shrubs in the woodlands at
Marengo Ridge Conservation Area to assist
with bird habitat for the blue-wing warbler. Published 11/4/14 More>>