Administration & Finance Division
The Administration & Finance division effectively manages the District’s financial activity and provides support services to the District’s operating departments through Finance and Accounting, Human Resources Management, Information Technology Services, Purchasing and Risk Management. In addition, the department performs financial analysis, maintains the general ledger, and manages the District’s investments and fixed assets.
Operations, Planning & Public Safety Division
The Operations Department maintains the District's infrastructure, trails, roads, bridges, parking lots, walkways, entrance gates, and all District vehicles. Ranger staff maintain thirty five sites and miles of trail open to the public to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable visit. Facilities staff maintain structures, buildings, shelters, and provide repairs and maintenance. The District's mechanics maintain all District vehicles and equipment in a manner that provides for continued long-term usability. Staff in this department also perform some construction services as needed by the District.
The Planning & Development Department is responsible for the planning, designing, and implementation of District infrastructure for the betterment of public uses and staff, while protecting the natural and cultural features of McHenry County. The Department prepares and executes all Site Improvement Plans and Master Plans that guide the logical development, use, management and acquisition of District lands and resources. Each plan presents a thorough inventory and analysis of pertinent data relating to regional and site conditions, resources and programs as well as implementation strategies for physical development and resource management. The Planning Department manages these capital improvement projects from beginning phases: designing, engineering; cost estimating; permitting, bidding and prioritizing; to final phases: directly overseeing all aspects of construction.
The Police Department protects and serves the District’s site users along with protecting any and all natural resources, property and infrastructure that the District owns or manages. In addition, the department focuses on educating the general public in areas of public and personal safety, as well as providing programs which encourage spending quality time outdoors, like the Hooked on Fishing and Safe Kids Wear Lids programs. Officers strive to protect the public and natural resources in the utmost professional manner, ensuring a safe visit for every citizen in the community.
Land Preservation & Natural Resources Division
The Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division primary focus is the protection, inventory and management, of natural and cultural resources of county-wide significance. Data is used to inform and guide management efforts and advance scientific discovery. Management of natural resources involves restoring natural ecological process, structure and composition to District lands. The Farm Program, Hunting Program, Wildlife Resource Center and Cultural Archives Program are also managed by the Land Preservation and Natural Resources Division. Activities include: planning and conducting prescription burning; removal of invasive brush and trees, and artificial subsurface and surface drainage modifications to restore original site hydrology; control of invasive and noxious weed species such as thistles, reed canary grass, and purple loosestrife; bank stabilization, stream re-meandering and other aspects of riparian restoration; and the regulation of game fish and animal harvest through the District’s recreational fishing and hunting program.
Land Preservation and Acquisition
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 the county’s natural heritage. This enables the Division to play a valuable role in the development of a long-term land protection efforts to preserve the county’s natural lands. The Division updates the McHenry County Natural Areas Inventory and Oak Ecosystem Inventory Reports that aid in identifying the most critical parcels worthy of consideration for long term protection county-wide.
The Database and Cartographic Resources section of Natural Resources provides access to specific natural resource related information, both detailed and summary, in an organized, useable and concise manner, in tabular, graphical, visual or cartographic format. Over 35 years of scientific inventory and monitoring information has been digitized in a user-friendly, easily-queried database format. In 2003, GIS resources were added, augmenting the existing database conversion with detailed digital maps. Over 3,900 biological inventories have been digitally converted, as well as ongoing data collected in the field on all major species groups, not limited to, breeding birds, reptiles and amphibians, small mammals, fresh water mussels, fish, butterflies, and plants.
In addition, over 4,000 digital maps have been created for all District sites and include information on parcel boundaries, previous owners, management and burn units, prescribed burn histories, and natural community restoration projects. This cartographic information also includes all biological survey maps for all species groups sampled, prescribed burn records, tile removal records, planting project records, natural community distribution, parcel boundaries, management units, burn units and soil distribution.
The Plant Ecology section of Natural Resource Management integrates its expertise into many aspects of overall departmental work plans, projects and activities. This section implements critical scientific inventory and monitoring needs related to vegetation District wide as well as providing native seed and plants for planting projects. These include: propagation, collection and installation of plant species native to McHenry County and identified as part of natural community restoration projects on District lands; monitoring of all endangered or threatened plant populations located on District lands; monitoring of long-term vegetation studies to track the effects of ecological management and restoration efforts; assess all new land acquisitions for baseline vegetative inventories; and operation and oversight of the MCCD Native Plant Nursery and Seed Processing Building.
The Wildlife Ecology section of Natural Resource Management works to improve the biological health of Conservation District lands, monitors and implements critical scientific inventories of existing wildlife resources, including breeding birds, herps, freshwater mussels, fish, and butterflies. In addition, staff monitors endangered and threatened wildlife species on District lands and works to help species in greatest need of conservation by developing plans for re-introduction and population supplementation in addition to making management recommendations, all based on scientific data.
The Wildlife Resource Center's three primary tasks are environmental education, captive rearing and reintroduction of selected wildlife species, and rehabilitation of species of conservation concern. Staff provides environmental education programming to schools, community groups, and the public utilizing various live animals (raptors, snakes, and turtles) as an integral part of the program. Staff also assists the public by fielding and handling a variety of wildlife related inquiries. The wildlife reintroduction projects currently encompass the Illinois state endangered Blanding’s turtle and a species of conservation concern, the smooth green snake.
Marketing & Education Division
Marketing & Communications serves to reach, educate, gain awareness and create a positive image to the general public. The Communications Department executes a comprehensive marketing awareness campaign that utilizes enhanced print publications, advertising, social media, public presentations and special event coordination. In addition, continued efforts will be made toward creating a well-trained, well-informed, efficient and sustainable volunteer base for the District.
Education Services develops and delivers natural and cultural history programs for the general public, community organizations, and schools; provides self-directed educational materials; and manages two educational facilities. The Department’s educational programs support the District’s mission by stimulating an appreciation of the natural world, increasing understanding of the overall significance of the county’s natural and cultural resources, building awareness and encouraging public involvement in the solution of environmental problems.