This article is for those who have read about the proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and do not really know much about the area. The possible park sits on a swath of land halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago along the Illinois and Wisconsin border. This region is more popularly known for Great America than a haven for natural beauty.
The first time I visited a state park in this locale, I was pleasantly surprised. In August of 2009, I spent a day at Richard Bong State Natural Area near Burlington, Wisconsin. Bong is within the boundary of the proposed national wildlife area. I have driven past this sign a hundred times in my life and never stopped. I was glad I finally did as the park is beautiful.
Related: Bong 101: How does it work?
Since then, I have had the pleasure of exploring other parks within the Hackmatack boundary. Glacial Park, Big Foot Beach State Park, and Chain O’Lakes are already state or county parks protected in this region. Each time I visited one of these parks, I was pleased to find another pleasant outdoor option so close to the big city.
On the eve of two public meetings on the possible future of the proposed Hackmatack National Wild Refuge, I present a slideshow of my time in the parks within the projected zone. If Hackmatack never becomes a reality, these parks will remain in state protected status; however, under a federal umbrella of protection, these areas together will thrive along with other unprotected areas in the core.
With more protection, wildlife and migratory birds will flourish having an opportunity to roam instead of being cooped up in small pockets of forest and swamp. Federal protection might also lead to better outdoor recreation opportunities for Chicago and Milwaukee outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps hiking and ski trails can be extended, instead of a few couple mile loop trails in each park.
If you cannot make the meetings tomorrow and Wednesday, voice your opinion online in support of Hackmatack online. I hope this slideshow proves how beautiful and valuable this overlooked corridor only 60 miles from Chicago can be for the adventure traveler.
Show your support online by clicking here
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