Displaying items by tag: land trust
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) has preserved an 83-acre property, Slough Creek Wetland Bank, located northwest of Woodstock on Jankowski Road.
The parcel lies within the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and is adjacent to McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) property along Slough Creek, the Nippersink Creek corridor, and one half mile from the Bystricky Prairie Illinois State Nature Preserve. The property adds 83 acres for a total of 1,500 contiguous acres of wildlife habitat.
Once a farm field, the property was restored to a wetland and wet prairie habitat for the purpose of selling wetland mitigation credits to mitigate development wetland impacts.
The wetland/wet-mesic prairie restoration has met all US Army Corps of Engineers, USEPA, & US Fish and Wildlife Service approvals for wetland restoration. In addition to the restored vegetation, the site serves as feeding/nesting/migration habitat for a number of declining, rare, or threatened/endangered Illinois bird species such as: Northern Harrier, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Bobolink, and Sparrows (Field, Grasshopper, Henslow’s, Savannah, Song, Swamp, and Vesper).
The owners decided to work with TLC as the organization to complete the donation process due to the TLC’s long record of integrity and reputation for natural land management.
As part of the land donation, the donors are contributing to a long-term management fund held for the property and also covering the cost of one year of site management, which includes prescribed burns and eradicating invasive species at the site.
TLC plans to hold the property for two-to-three years and collect native seed there for use at other sites. Eventually, the property will be transferred to either MCCD or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for formal addition to the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.
In our work at TLC, we are often reminded of the power of the individual to make a profound difference in the world. An acre at a time, and after twenty years, nearly 3 square miles of land have been permanently preserved in one of the fastest developing counties in the US (until the recession, that is).
But TLC & McHenry County are not the only groups and places that are experiencing a groundswell of private land conservation.
The first census of conservation land trusts in five years found 10 million new acres conserved across the US since 2005, including over 90,000 acres in Illinois and 1,360 acres by TLC here in McHenry County.
The National Land Trust Census, released by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that voluntarily protected land increased 27 percent between 2005 and 2010. In the same time period, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, a major federal conservation program, added just over 500,000 acres and saw a 38% funding cut. You can find the census is online at www.lta.org/census.
A total of 47 million acres—an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States—are now protected by conservation land trusts. A high percentage of the new acreage comes through local land trusts like The Land Conservancy of McHenry County. In Illinois, land trusts conserved over 90,000 acres between 2005 and 2010, a 42% increase in land protected when compared to 2000-2005. Given declining state and federal budgets for land preservation, this news offers some encouragement: individuals are stepping up and working with nonprofits to help guarantee a legacy of land will be passed down to future generations of Americans!
In McHenry County, TLC permanently preserved 1,360 acres of natural, agricultural and scenic land between 2006 and 2010, a five-fold increase from the 257 acres we had protected from 1991-2005. An important factor in that growth has been an enhanced Federal Income Tax deduction for landowners who place a voluntary, permanent conservation restriction on their land.
But, the biggest factor in the growth of local private land preservation is the fact that McHenry County residents value the land and all it provides. And, local people are investing in our future by working with TLC to ensure clean water, local food and places to play for our children and for generations to come.