Agency's Interest Means Additional Benefits for McHenry County
When a landowner donates a conservation easement to TLC,
At least once a year, someone from TLC – staff or volunteer – will visit the property and make sure that all of the easement requirements are being followed, and to see if there are any problems that need to be addressed.
In the case of landowners who are working to restore their land to a natural condition, TLC tries to provide technical assistance such as training in the use of fire as a management tool, native seed through our annual seed sharing program, and volunteer support for landowner-led restoration events.
In some cases, we are able to do more.
From 2006-2009, TLC was very fortunate to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Private Lands program to get $16,000 worth of work done on TLC easement properties in the Alden High-Point area. Brush was cleared, reed canary grass was controlled, and stream corridors were restored. The partnership was a great success, providing assistance to landowners who had already made a permanent commitment to preservation of their land.
As Gwen Kolb, Private Lands Coordinator for the FWS in Illinois likes to remind us, about 95% of the land in Illinois is in private ownership. So, if the FWS is NOT helping private landowners restore habitat on their land, then they cannot possibly succeed in ensuring that the species they are trying to protect – migratory birds, frogs, turtles, orchids, butterflies, etc. – will actually survive.
McHenry County is unique in the state, having the second highest concentration of state-recognized natural areas in Illinois, combined with the highest concentrations of privately owned nature preserves and conservation easements in the state.
Plus, there is an organization here focused on working with private landowners to help them preserve the land they love. You guessed it, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County!
Other areas of Illinois do not have what McHenry County has: a concentration of natural lands, combined with a strong private land conservation ethic and the presence of a nonprofit conservancy that has preserved nearly 2,000 acres of land.
Agencies like the US Fish & Wildlife Service are interested in helping further the conservation work that is going on here! TLC is working on an agreement with FWS to have restoration work done on four additional easement properties this winter. In each case, the landowners’ match will be the conservation easement and the on-going maintenance of the restored areas.
Pending the success of the project this winter, TLC hopes this will be an on-going relationship that will help us deliver assistance to easement donors on a scale that we could not offer without the help of a partner like the US Fish & Wildlife Service.