McHenry County Conservation District exists to preserve, restore, and manage natural areas and open spaces for their intrinsic value and for the benefits to present and future generations.
By the year 2020, McHenry County Conservation District will be a premiere public agency in the country for preserving, protecting and managing open space. Residents will have developed a personal responsibility for their local environment, gained a greater appreciation for their natural world and invested into ensuring its future protection.
Achieving this vision will: Inspire respect for the land; Promote sound environmental practices; Promote the long-term viability of the county’s biodiversity; Provide opportunities for responsible use of the land in concert with natural resources; Promote environmental stewardship; Provide quality experiences that promote green, healthy and balanced lifestyles; Connect children to nature and; Foster public and private partnerships.
Promoting Conservation, Education and Recreation
McHenry County Conservation District owns or manages over 25,000 acres of open land diverse with woodlands, prairies, wetlands, ponds, creeks, and rivers. Thirty-three sites are currently open to the public year-round featuring trails, picnic shelters, camp sites, fishing sites, rare plant and animal examples, educational facilities, and more. In addition, within the District’s sites there are 17 dedicated State Nature Preserves.
Created by a group of ecologically conscientious citizens in 1971 and supported by the Illinois Conservation District Act of 1963, the McHenry County Conservation District began with the mission to preserve open space, and to provide environmental education programs and resources for recreational opportunities to the public.
The District was established by a successful countywide referendum held in conjunction with the general election of April 1971 and formally organized in July 1971. The first Board of Trustees were appointed by the County Board Chairman and included:
Mr. Arthur Baker - President,
served 1971 - 1974
Dr. George Buehler - Treasurer, served 1971 - 1977
Mr. Frank Fabbri - Secretary, served 1971 - 1975
Mr. Robert Fritz - Trustee, served 1971 - 1977
Dr. William Howenstine - Trustee, served 1971 - 1979; 1996 - 2001
The first land purchase was made in 1973 when 50 acres that make up a portion of Beck’s Woods Conservation Area in Chemung were acquired. Since that time, thousands of acres have been added to the preservation securities of the District from the 74-acre Harrison Benwell to the 3,300 acre Glacial Park which features wetlands, prairie, glacial kames and Nippersink Creek.
The distinctiveness of McHenry County’s natural land was a driving force in the creation of the Conservation District. That desire for preservation has continued to inspire land purchases. Throughout the 1970s the District added 2,167 acres. The 80s added 2,353 acres. The rapid growth of the 90s increased the value of land preservation and the District acquired 7,144 acres. Today, The Conservation District protects over 25,000 acres throughout the McHenry County.