McHenry County Conservation District celebrates 50 years
It was April of 1971 when McHenry County Conservation District was formed by a successful countywide referendum and then formally organized in July 1971.
The Conservation District founders envisioned a public agency that would preserve and protect the land and the water they loved and lived on, while promoting a way of life they cherished, and establishing a place that could be shared with the wildlife around them.
"During this 50th anniversary year, we celebrate and recognize the milestones achieved, the growth, achievements and accomplishments, the many partnerships that help bring projects to life and, most importantly, the citizens and taxpayers of McHenry County who placed their trust in the Conservation District to bring into being the conservation dream envisioned by the founders," said Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler.
"We congratulate the past and present board of trustees, staff, volunteers and citizens of McHenry County on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the McHenry County Conservation District and express sincere gratitude and heartfelt appreciation.
Throughout the past 50 years, McHenry County Conservation District has secured and protected more than 25,600 acres, diverse with woodlands, wetlands, prairies, creeks and rivers that afford habitat for an array of native plants and wildlife species -- including numerous endangered and threatened species.
District properties are also home to 17 Illinois State Nature Preserves and portions included within the boundaries of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.
Over the years, McHenry County Conservation District has been awarded and nationally recognized as a leader in conservation and environmental stewardship excellence for its role in ecological restoration, rare plant discoveries, scientific research, the remeandering of Nippersink Creek, Blanding's turtles and other wildlife reintroduction, investments in green infrastructure, greenway corridors and trail connections like the regional Prairie Trail and recently completed Ridgefield Trace.
Today, McHenry County conservation areas provide residents access to 35 sites where visitors can enjoy outdoor recreational pursuits on 106 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of regional biking trails, 25 fishing areas, six campgrounds, six canoe launches, 36 miles of horse trails, and 18 sites with multiple picnic areas and shelters, as well as a multitude of opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Help celebrate this milestone
Throughout the district's 50th year of service to McHenry County, residents can register for new programs and activities that will encourage residents to get outdoors, like Hike for the Health of It, Trail Riders -- A 50 Mile Ride (broken down into segments), Fall History Hikes, Family Scavenger Hunts, and a 50th-themed geocaching coin.
There are new art exhibits planned, historic open houses, a release of a commemorative anniversary book and the long-anticipated opening of the Passport to Lost Valley Adventure exhibit at Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park.
In addition, outdoor First Fridays summer concerts are back, plus Pedal, Paddle Saddle, Hooked on Fishing, summer day camps, The Great Outdoor Beer Trail and myriad outdoor adventures for young and old alike.
In the days and months to come, sign up to receive notices via the district's e-newsletter, follow it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, tune in to one of its series on YouTube or join one of its Facebook groups.