U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the 557th wildlife refuge in the United States yesterday. The Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge straddles the border between Wisconsin and Illinois, the new refuge will eventually encompass up to 11,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat. It will be made up of several contiguous parcels of land, roughly in the shape of a donut with a large pocket of farmland in the center. The area is home to 109 species of concern, including 49 birds, five fish species, five mussels, one amphibian, two reptiles and 47 types of plants. The refuge will be used for conservation as well as hunting, fishing, environmental education and other outdoor activities. The Hackmatack Refuge will help conserve wetlands and prairies in Wisconsin and Illinois, and will be the closest National Wildlife Refuge to the Chicago metro area. The nearest Refuge prior to the Hackmatack was 200 miles from Chicago. The new designated National Wildlife Refuge is expected to host over 200,000 visitors per year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will proceed to purchase the land and conservation easements from sellers in both state under President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Division/Flickr