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Bull Valley Association Letter

Bull Valley Association Letter

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Published by Northwest Herald

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: Northwest Herald on May 18, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/24/2012

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Hack-ma-tack Wildlife Refuge
Open Letter from the BVA Board to the Bull Valley CommunityPage 1
June 13, 2011To: Members of the BVA and the Bull Valley CommunityDear Residents:The Bull Valley Association Board set out some months ago to do an in-depth analysis of the impact of including the Bull Valley area within the boundaries of the Hack-ma-tack National Wildlife Refuge (HNWR)
1
. Hack-ma-tack would be under the control of theDepartment of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
2
.The purpose of our study was to evaluate the overall short and long term effects on ourCommunity, comparing their goals with those of the Bull Valley Association, andcommunicating our findings to our members and area residents so they could makeinformed decisions.As many of you know, the bedrock of the BVA can be summed up in its mission:
To maintain, improve and conserve the environmental character, appearance and conditions of the area
commonly known as “Bull Valley” which area includes, but is not limited to, the Village of Bull Valley in
 McHenry County, IL; and (2) To maintain, improve and conserve the social and cultural aspects of thearea; and (3) To maintain and improve communication among the residents, property owners and othersinterested in the area regarding matters of common interest.
It is in this spirit that we, the BVA Board, feel it is important to make you aware of ourfindings, and why the BVA Board has passed a resolution against supporting theinclusion of the Bull Valley area within the boundaries of HNWR.The residents of the Bull Valley area have repeatedly shown overwhelming support forthe environment and for land conservation practices. We are already proven stewards of our plants, wildlife, and their habitat; and we have strongly supported the goals of thelocal conservation agencies
3
.
What is Hack-ma-tack?
Our study discovered and analyzed information from published data by the Departmentof the Interior, USFWS publications and brochures, USFWS town hall meetings withresidents, and verifiable materials available on regulations governing these agencies
4
.The overarching goal of Hack-ma-tack, USFWS, and
the „friends of 
Hack-ma-tack 
 organizations is to provide recreational areas for approximately 12 million residents of Rockford, Milwaukee and Chicago for hiking, hunting, fishing, birding and educationaluses.
This will be done by „knitting together‟ existing conservation/refuge lands through
agreements with local agencies and through the acquisition of privately-owned parcels
5
.
 
Hack-ma-tack Wildlife Refuge
Open Letter from the BVA Board to the Bull Valley CommunityPage 2
On the surface, and from their published information, it would appear that the goals of USFWS for Hack-ma-tack are similar to, and in alignment with, the goals of the manyenvironmental and preservation organizations already working in our area. They include,but are not limited to our own McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD), theIllinois Nature Preserve, the Boone Creek Watershed Alliance, the Land Conservancy of McHenry County, the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water, the Bull Valley RidingClub, and the Bull Valley Garden Club. However, the impact of the proposed refuge onthe residents of the Bull Valley area (and McHenry County) will be quite different.
What’s
 the Perceived Benefit?
MCCD has the admirable goal of preserving 50,000 acres of which about 25,000 havebeen purchased thus far
 – 
mostly through the efforts of our Community taxpayers. Somemonies have been made available through federal, state and private sources. In the statedviews of MCCD, the perceived addition of USFWS funds would accelerate them towardtheir ultimate goal of acquiring more lands.In the case of other organizations, they are accomplishing their goals of conservation andpreservation through the very successful methods of dedications and easements whilemaintaining and enhancing private ownership.
What is USFWS Currently Doing?
Underway currently is an Environmental Assessment of the areas being studied todetermine those areas to be targeted for inclusion USFWS
6
. The 12 person studycommittee is comprised (by USFWS regulation) of only environmentalists. Twomembers of McHenry County Conservation District are on the study committee
7
. BullValley was added to the study boundaries by an amendment. While we were notoriginally considered, we were informed
that Bull Valley‟s addition ca
me at the requestof the President of the Village of Barrington Hills
8
. The results of that study are due outin the fall.
Once their study is completed, there will be little anyone can do to influence
the outcome in spite of the mandated „public meetings
9
.
How will Hack-ma-tack Affect Us?
No identifiable additional benefits would result from Bull Valley being within theboundaries of a federally designated National Wildlife Refuge that we, the Community,
don‟t
already have by working closely with our local agencies. While the perceivedadvantages might possibly include: slowed development; lowered demands on resources;
and potential „buyers‟ for property owners seeking land disposal at any price, the
 potential disadvantages could be far reaching and would be out of our ability to control. Itmight well amount to a loss of freedom within our community in exchange for openingup our area to millions of nonresidents for hunting and fishing. Equestrian activities, anextremely important facet to hundreds of our residents, and snowmobiling are severelyrestricted on refuge lands, and would only be permitted on motor vehicle roads
10
.
 
Hack-ma-tack Wildlife Refuge
Open Letter from the BVA Board to the Bull Valley CommunityPage 3
The Bull Valley Association Board does not feel our residents should give up their rightsto an agency that has little knowledge or interest in what our Community represents to itsresidents.
Why is
 MCCD a ‘Good Fit’ for Bull Valley and 
 Hack-ma-tack a
‘ 
 Poor Fit
’ 
?
McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) is headquartered in McHenry County. Itis this close proximity of agency decision makers to the land that has fostered a solid andclose relationship with groups and individuals alike. The conservationists have learnedthe culture of our community, supported our goals and helped preserve our ruralcharacter. They are our neighbors.The Department of the Interior Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program/US Fish andWildlife Service (USFWS) is headquartered in Washington, DC and our region, Region3, has their offices in Ft. Snelling, MN. They are a federal agency that reports to the U.S.Congress
11
, and they are budgeted each year for the acquisition of private lands. Thisbudgeting process may vary the annual dollars that are available to them for acquisitionand maintenance. Traditional shortfalls in budgets for adequate patrolling andmaintenance of refuge lands has created past problems for residents
12
, and it is unclear atthis time as to how adequate patrolling/maintenance shortfalls would be funded.
 Probable Community Impact Hunting/Fishing:
USFWS derives the majority of private funding from the sale of Duck Stamps, hunting and fishing licenses, ammunition and gun sales. The focus on these typesof recreation is quite different from our
areas‟
current focus on agri/tourism. We are a
community that prefers a „q
uiet, private lifestyle
. Opening the area to the 12 millionresidents of Milwaukee, Rockford and Chicago for hunting and fishing will not fit wellwith the culture that attracted us to the area.
 Equestrian and Snowmobile Activities:
would be severely restricted on refuge lands andwould be allowed only on already established roadways
13
. Currently the area has a large,connected equestrian trail system. In 85% of the cases this is made possible throughagreements with individual private land owners. These permits would not transfer withtitle, leading to a fragmentation of the trail system, rendering it unusable over time.
USFWS‟ proposal of „grandfathering‟
these trail rights would not be enforceable once theproperty transfers ownership
14
. Their overall goal is to get horses off the refuge lands.
 Refuge Goals
 – 
Land Returned to Pre-European Occupancy Conditions:
The goal of refuge lands is to return the flora/fauna/habitats to pre-European occupancy status. Farmand equestrian
lands are thought to be „undesirable‟ conditions, creating „
harmful runoff 
 

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