A new federal wildlife refuge has been authorized along the border between Illinois and Wisconsin. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the establishment of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois during a visit Wednesday to Milwaukee.
“Thanks in large measure to the work of local communities and stakeholders,” Salazar said, “the creation of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will help conserve wetlands and prairies in Wisconsin and Illinois, while offering Americans a place to enjoy the great outdoors.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will acquire land for the refuge -- primarily in Lake and McHenry counties in Illinois and Walworth and Kenosha counties in Wisconsin -- through conservation easements or purchases from willing sellers, and private initiatives and partnerships aimed at creating contiguous natural habitat.
The goal is to create up to 11,200 acres of wildlife habitat and recreational space close to Rockford, Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee. The refuge will be home to more than 100 species of animals and plants. The list includes 49 birds, five fishes, five mussels, one amphibian, two reptiles and 47 plants.
Joining more than 550 wildlife refuges nationwide, Hackmatack will be established officially when the first parcel of land is purchased.