Volunteers Sow the Seeds of Hackmatack

In 2016, Openlands purchased the Perricone Tract in Woodstock, IL as part of our ongoing work in Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. This 27-acre parcel contains remnant sedge meadow and a lovely meandering stretch of the Nippersink Creek. Openlands partnered with the Nippersink Watershed Association to protect the Perricone Tract and received a generous grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to support the site’s acquisition and restoration.

Hackmatack was established as a permanent National Wildlife Refuge in 2012, but from the beginning, it has been a partnership of local communities and local governments working to bring the vision to life. Friends and neighbors came together to earn the federal designation, but now the real work of building the refuge acre-by-acre has begun.


On the chilly morning of January 28, the Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge hosted a seed planting workday on the Perricone Tract with the help of Openlands and the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD). Volunteers spread 100 lbs of native prairie seed mix, kindly donated by FermiLab, along the site’s eastern edge, which will grow in to help restore this tract.

When restored, the landscapes protected at Hackmatack will once again offer a home to the mosaics of native plants and wildflowers, the mazes of pristine streams, and the rich variety of wildlife. Essential to Openlands’ vision is not just protecting these rare habitats, but also ensuring everyone can share in the nature at Hackmatack. Whether through participating in restoration days or by introducing best practices to support wildlife near their homes, the local residents are making great strides to restore this area for the benefit of all.

The seeding planting workday laid the foundation for more prairie restoration work in the coming spring, which will be led by our partners at MCCD and funded by our Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant. More importantly, it helped sow the seeds for future partnerships uniting around a shared vision for Hackmatack. Openlands thanks our volunteers for braving the cold weather and our sponsors who provide critical support for restoration!

Our next Hackmatack workday is February 19, 10am-1pm. We will be cleaning up trash and other debris on the Blackmon Tract, an open space site in the refuge boundaries that is owned by Openlands. The property features a wetland area and oak woodland ready to be restored. Wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty, and bring a pair of work gloves and your own drinking water. Workday will be held rain or shine but may be rescheduled if heavy snow is in the forecast. The site’s entrance driveway is located at 9613 N. Route 12, Richmond, IL on the west side of Route 12 across the McHenry County Conservation District’s Prairie Trail. Please note that there is no on-site parking; parking for this workday will be available at the Richmond Village Hall, 5601 Hunter Drive.

For more information, please contact acollins@openlands.org or call 312.863.6257.

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