The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

Calendar & Projects


Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge

Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge

Creating a new national wildlife refuge of up to 10,000 acres spanning the Illinois-Wisconsin state line in the rapidly developing northwest part of the metropolitan area would dramatically advance the Green Legacy goal of preserving regionally significant open space. This bi-state area is home to a dramatic glacial landscape and to an extraordinary collection of diverse aquatic and terrestrial communities. The Hack-ma-tack project in northern McHenry County, Illinois and southern Walworth County, Wisconsin would protect a wildlife refuge for future generations, and would also strategically link with existing preserves and trail connections.

The hope is that the two neighboring states will approach the U.S. Department of the Interior and request national wildlife refuge designation for Hack-ma-tack. Openlands and the Trust for Public Land have been guiding the process of acquiring an ecologically critical parcel and engaging local and state leadership. A feasibility study considering Hack-ma-tack’s recreational, biological and economic development potential is already underway.

Support for the Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge has been generously provided by the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

For a print-friendly fact sheet on the Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge, click here.

Openlands has published a Chicago Metropolis 2020-funded Viability Study that identifies and assesses the biological, recreational, economic, and social implications of establishing the Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge. For a downloadable, easily readable version, click here.

Program Partners


Openlands is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. ...[MORE]

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Our mission is to manage, protect and sustain Illinois' natural and cultural resources; provide resource-compatible recreational opportunities and to promote natural resource-related issues for the public's safety and education. [MORE]


Contact: Lenore Beyer-Clow,, 312.863.8264

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