Our History

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 county-wide 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 3,439 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, while the 1980s added 2,353 acres. The rapid growth of the county experienced during the 1990s increased the value of land preservation and thus, the District acquired 7,144 acres. Today, The Conservation District protects 25,623 acres throughout McHenry County.

Chronological List of Site Openings.

50th Anniversary Celebration Features