Help Create the Refuge

Openlands and other partners are working with local landowners and communities to spread the word about Hackmatack.

Volunteer and Events

Partners, such as Openlands, Ducks Unlimited, and Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, organize volunteer stewardship workdays throughout the year. Volunteers provide invaluable help through activities such as clearing brush, removing trash, and planting native seeds – restoring the natural diversity of Hackmatack’s beautiful landscapes and having fun in the process. Learn more about past volunteer programs. Corporate workdays are another impactful way to get involved with Hackmatack. Learn more about corporate workdays at Hackmatack.

Volunteer Workdays

Friends of Hackmatack and Openlands host restoration workdays throughout the year in support of the refuge.

We are currently scheduling workdays for spring and summer 2018, and we will be announcing those dates soon. Join our mailing list to receive notifications of future workdays.

Upcoming Hackmatack Events

Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge organize several events throughout the year to help visitors enjoy the refuge.

  • Monarchs & Music | August 12: Explore our monarch extravaganza with butterfly and plant information, face painting, science table activities, art activities, migration route maps and information on how Mexico, Canada and the US are working together to increase the monarch population. Learn more.
  • The Big Sit at Powers-Walker House | October 14: Interested in learning more about bird watching and migration? Check out “The Big Sit” at Powers-Walker Historic Site in Glacial Park. The event lasts from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, and visitors are welcome to stay for as long as they wish. Whether you’re a beginner, expert, or just looking for a weekend family activity, all are welcome to come and help count birds as a part of National Wildlife Refuge Week. Learn more.


Private landowners can get involved with Hackmatack in many ways. Some protect wildlife habitat on their property with conservation easements, which can potentially be tax-deductible. Others connect with volunteers and partners to enhance habitat on their land through restoration and management activities. Finally, some landowners decide to sell or donate their land to become a permanently protected part of Hackmatack.

Many partners working to build the refuge, including Openlands, collaborate with private landowners on land acquisition and conservation easement opportunities. All acquisitions are done in conjunction with willing sellers only.

The Hackmatack Conservation Partnership

Openlands has played an essential role in the long-range effort to establish Hackmatack in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service premier system of protected lands.

Today, Openlands works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alongside an array of national and local conservation organizations. Eleven such agencies and organizations have signed on to the Hackmatack Conservation Partnership, a coalition group focused on implementing a Land Protection Plan that is based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official habitat, education, and recreation goals for Hackmatack.

This Partnership includes Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, McHenry County Conservation District, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Conservation Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Geneva Lake Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Openlands, Kettle Moraine Land Trust, and the Nippersink Watershed Association. Many others have contributed their expertise and support to the Partnership too, including the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, The Trust for Public Land, and the Illinois Audubon Society.

For more information on Hackmatack, please contact or call 312.863.6257.