The Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge is a step closer to reality. A feasibility study has been approved for the refuge, which would be the closest one to Chicago (Horicon Marsh and Upper Mississippi NWRs are both about 150 miles from Chicago). The new refuge would encompass several tracts of prairie, savanna and wetland straddling the Illinois-Wisconsin border about 90 miles northwest of Chicago. The area is home to rare birds, fish, plants and mussels.
There’s a very extensive viability study by The Trust for Public Lands and Openlands, with great photos, available here. The feasibility study signals the refuge is still a couple years away. There’s hope since the federal government is hoping to open more urban refuges, according to information on the Friends of Hackmatack Web site.