Displaying items by tag: preservation
Over the past 544 million years, Earth's had five major extinction events. A major extinction is one where between 70% and 90% of all species on the planet are lost – never to be seen again. Each of the five was caused by a cataclysmic event – like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs when it slammed into the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago.
The end of the year is always a surprise of sorts at TLC. There are usually several land preservation projects brewing that may or may not come together... It can be hard to predict.
After 10 year-ends, it doesn't stress me out anymore. I've learned that everything happens in its own time, and if a project isn't meant to be this year, it may come back around in another three or seven years! Or never. It will happen if it is meant to be.
This year, 2011, we started off with what seemed like a rush of easements on Fleming Road. We finished 8 or 9 by the end of 2010, and are now up to 18 permanent easements along that road. We don't know for sure what the easements will mean for the roadway, but they have most certainly sent the message that not only do the residents want to see the road stay in its same footprint, but they are willing to give up certain rights to their own property to help make sure that happens.
I think of it as an "Occupy Fleming Road" thing...very grassroots in nature! (Or should I say "oak-roots" in nature?)
TLC actually "purchased" some land this year too. Two parcels that comprise an acre on Barnard Mill Road came up for tax delinquent sale in September. We placed a bid on both parcels ($1300 total), and won! After clearing up a lien, and buying title insurance, our total costs were still less than $5,000. And did I mention that the land is adjacent to 26 acres of conservation easement? And that the easements are adjacent to Glacial Park? How cool is that?!
2012 will be known as the year of two acre land donations. Two acres donated in Nunda Township, 2.5 acres donated in Hebron Township (adjacent to the Dick York Memorial Arboretum easement), and 2 acres donated in Dorr Township adjacent to our 7 acre easement in the Country Ridge subdivision.
I like to say that if we keep up this pace, TLC will have preserved all of the County through land donations in about 500 years!
Our "bread & butter" work - accepting donated permanent conservation easements on private land - is still going strong. We closed on a 38.5 acre easement last week that adjoins the Yonder Prairie/Westwod Park complex just west of Woodstock. And we are set to close on a 56 acre easement that preserves prairie, wetland and oak natural areas by the end of the year. The attorneys have agreed on the details, so now it is just a matter of making a few edits and getting some signatures so the document can be recorded!
Finally, I am pleased to report that we now have a signed agreement to purchase the Gateway property in Harvard! Nearly 18 acres that will become a City Park. We'll finish the acquisition sometime in 2012. No surprises, please.
Saturday December 10th was the inaugural Oak Rescue at the future Gateway Park on the south side of Harvard near the intersection of Routes 14 & 23.
Thirty volunteers from throughout McHenry County donated over 90 hours on a cold morning to release about a dozen ancient oaks from the grips of invasive brush that had grown up around them in the last 20-30 years.
The 18 acre property is home to dozens of oaks that were growing on the property before the area was settled. These trees would have welcomed early settlers to town 165 or more years ago, and now will continue to welcome residents and visitors to Harvard forever.
Through a partnership between the City of Harvard and The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Gateway Park will be preserved as a public nature park for hiking, relaxation and education.
The property includes several oak groves, with dozens of trees that were already large when the City was founded in 1856. Additionally, one of the only portions of Rush Creek that was never ditched runs through the center of the property, providing important habitat for a diversity of fish, including three that are listed as "species in greatest need of conservation" by the State of Illinois.
Future Oak Rescues are being planned. Contact The Land Conservancy for more information: 815-337-9502.
TLC's 4th Annual Art of the Land Amateur Photography Contest is now taking applications!
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) invites amateur photographers to participate in a unique photo contest meant to highlight the inspiring nature of TLC’s land preservation work. The contest goal is to showcase photographs that reveal the beautiful and immense natural and cultural diversity found throughout McHenry County.
The photo at left was the People's Choice winner in the 2011 contest. The picture was taken by Margie Bjorkman at TLC's Pensinger Conservation Easement on Fleming Road. The 3 acre oak woodland that can be seen behind the gate was preserved by Ray & Lynn Pensinger in 2009.
The photo below was the first place juried winner in 2011, and was taken by Kacie Butler at the Sobczak Conservation Easement in Greenwood. Lynne and Marty Sobczak also preserved three acres of their property in 2009. The property preserves a stretch of the Nippersink Creek as well as half of the only remaining lily pond along the creek.
TLC has preserved over 1900 acres of land in McHenry County by working with more than 70 landowners. The properties protected range in size from 250 acres to less than one acre. All lands are protected from development forever through permanent conservation restrictions.
The photo contest gives amateur photographers a chance to visit many of these privately-owned conservation properties, and through their photographs to share their experiences with the public when the photos are shown at TLC's Art of the Land Art Show & Benefit in September.
A gallery of all 2011's photos can be seen here.
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.
Your membership means everything to TLC. When added with all the other memberships, it makes a huge difference. In fact, it means the difference between The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and, well, no TLC at all.
We don't receive any government funding - there is no line on your McHenry County property tax bill for The Land Conservancy. There is no "check off" on your state tax return for TLC, and no federal appropriation to support our work.
No, TLC is able to do what we do because individuals in McHenry County and the surrounding area CHOOSE to support us with their annual membership contributions. We exist because local people purchase tickets to the events we hold - like Art of the Land - or they buy oak trees and rainbarrels.
I was raised in a family where one did not talk about money - it was considered tacky. And now I run an organization where I must think about and ask for money - a lot. It doesn't come naturally to me, especially the times when I have to ask people to make a donation. I don't want to be pushy or seem too needy.
I'll catch myself saying things like "oh, we're doing fine" when a member asks how things are going financially, even though my mind is thinking "I'm worried because our membership renewal rate is down." Or I want to say "we had a couple of grant awards come in lower than expected, which means $2500 I have to raise somewhere," but I don't because I don't want anyone to worry.
Add to all that the fact that this is a sluggish economy. Maybe it's not a recession any more, but this sure has to be one of the slowest recoveries ever. I talked to a member recently who apologized for letting his membership lapse. He explained to me that he lost his job two years ago and only just got a new one, so he hoped to renew soon. He wanted to be sure I knew that he was still thinking about TLC, and that he still supported everything we do and wants to do more as soon as he is able.
The conversation reminded me that TLC means a lot to our members too. And that is why they choose to send us a tax-deductible membership contribution.
You could send us yours today!