Hackmatack: Creating the Refuge


Help Create the Refuge

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

Volunteer Workdays and Events

Friends of Hackmatack hosts volunteer workdays and community events throughout the year where you can learn more about the refuge and get your hands dirty as you help build Hackmatack from the ground up. Volunteer workdays are a great way to spend some time outside or for students to complete service hour requirements!

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 a typical volunteer workday.


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.

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