McHenry County Conservation District owns or manages 25,606 acres of open space provides wildlife habitat preservation, educational opportunities and recreational amenities for the citizens of McHenry County to appreciate and enjoy. Thirty-five sites are open to the public featuring 106 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of biking trails, 25 fishing areas, 6 campgrounds, 6 canoe launches, 36 miles of horse trails, and 18 sites with picnic areas & shelters, and a multitude of opportunities for wildlife viewing. The District also boasts 17 dedicated State Nature Preserves within its sites.Mission Statement
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.
To fulfill our promise that McHenry County’s public lands, water, wildlife and way of life will thrive in a rapidly changing world. Where people of all ages, cultures and abilities are engaged and empowered to learn about and contribute to conservation in diverse and impactful ways. Where wild and scenic places support thriving native plants and wildlife populations and public lands support diverse outdoor recreation, educational and immersive experiences.
What is a conservation District?
A conservation district is a special district with specific purposes established under Illinois statutes following a favorable public referendum. Its purpose includes the acquisition of land by purchase, lease, gift or easement; the preservation and maintenance of wild land, other open land, scenic roadways and pathways; and the holding of such real property, with or without public access for the education, pleasure and recreation of the public or for other open space values. To date, there are five counties in Illinois that have created such districts: Boone, Macon, McHenry, Putnam and Vermilion.
Funding for the District is a result of its ability to levy an annual tax not to exceed 1/10th of one percent of the assessed valuation of the county and is based upon a duly adopted budget and appropriation ordinance on which there has been a public hearing. Supplemental monies may be made available through state and federal open space or recreational grants. The District boundaries are co-terminus with those of the County and lie within the standard metropolitan planning region of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.
The State of Illinois Conservation District Act defines open land or open space as any space or area of land or water, the preservation or the restriction of development or the use of which would maintain or enhance the conservation of natural and/or scenic resources. The acquisition of such open land can be for the purpose of protecting a natural stream or water supply, promoting the conservation of soils or wetlands and affording or enhancing public outdoor recreational activities. The District can also acquire wild land which is open land not under cultivation or subject to intensive use or development.