Over 400 people attended the public meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Wisconsin and Illinois to offer feedback on the proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. Three hundred attended the Glacial Park meeting on Tuesday, including the author, and one hundred attended the Genoa City meeting in Wisconsin on Wednesday.
The meetings allowed representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) to field questions, hear concerns, and receive new feedback. Everyone was asked to sign in and to fill out a comment card.
According to the Friends of Hackmatack, preliminary results show that 88% of the surveys were positive towards the proposed refuge along the Illinois Wisconsin border. In a statment from the group they stated: “Best of all the Service representatives (from the USFWS) found that conservation has a strong and enthusiastic voice in the bi-state area. From birders to local business owners, that voice was diverse but unified in support for a new refuge to protect critical habitat for migratory birds, provide hunting and fishing opportunities and expanded outdoor education and wildlife viewing.”
I wrote something to this extent on my comment card: “I grew up in Johnsburg, Illinois then moved to Barrington, Illinois and now live in the city. I frequently return to the areas I grew up in to hike and cross-country ski. I am routinely appalled at the amount of development each time I return. It is important to protect this area before we have complete urbanization extending from Chicago to Milwaukee to Rockford. I therefore endorse the proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.”
Related: Open letter regarding the proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge
I was under the impression the meeting was going to be a town hall sort of get together with speakers and debate. Since it was only a feedback type of meeting, I was free to go after turning in my comment card.
I was expecting to be inside the Lost Valley Visitor’s Center in Glacial Park from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., since I was done at 5:45 p.m., I took advantage of the extra time and went for a walk around beautiful Glacial Park. I think you will see from the slideshow from my walk that the area is worth preserving.
I was even to take a quick walk up to the Camelback Kames.
Correction from previous articles:
In previous articles I have written about Hackmatack, I have stated the limits of the proposed refuge incorrectly. The initial study area included a large swath of land from southern Wisconsin through northern Illinois including Bong Recreation Area. This was just a study area and the alternative they now are considering is a smaller footprint where Bong and Chain O'Lakes State Park is outside the scope of the refuge. Click here and look for figure 3 alternative C on page 10 of the document for the current option being strongly considered for a new national wildlife refuge.
For those who missed the meeting, there is still time to voice your opinion on the refuge. The USFWS is taking comments on this website through April 27. Let's get some more positive comments so Hackmatack gets extra credit an earns an A (90%) instead of the current B+ at 88%. According to the USFWS, final word on the future of Hackmatack could be released by the fall.
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