Help Create the Refuge

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

Volunteer and Events

Many 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 are hosting two restoration workdays this spring. We will be removing brush at the Blackmon Tract, a site within the Hackmatack refuge boundary that is owned by Openlands. The property features a wetland and an oak woodland — including a stunning ancient oak — that we are continuing to restore.

  • Sunday, March 18 | 9am-12pm, Blackmon Tract in Richmond, IL
  • Sunday, April 8 | 9am-12pm, Blackmon Tract in Richmond, IL

Both opportunities will take place at the Blackmon Tract in Richmond, Illinois, which is located at 9613 N. Route 12. There is no on-site parking; however, parking is available nearby at Richmond Village Hall, located at 5601 Hunter Drive on the east side of Route 12. Please take care crossing Route 12. Volunteers should wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty, and bring a pair of work gloves and your own drinking water.

Please Register in advance by contacting with “Hackmatack workday” in the subject line.

Please note: The workday will be held if there is light rain, but will be rescheduled if it is pouring rain or thunderstorms.

Upcoming Hackmatack Events

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

  • International Migratory Bird Day Celebration | April 28-29: Head to Lost Valley Visitors Center at Glacial Park to learn about the grassland and migratory birds that make a home at Hackmatack. Both kids and adults will be able to assist biologists from US Fish and Wildlife Service in monitoring different species, and events run both Saturday and Sunday morning. Learn more.
  • 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, 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‘s 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 contribute 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.