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Voices of the Land – The Frisbies

Published on
27 February 2012


In 1993, Hugh and Marlene Frisbie purchased farmland outside of Woodstock where they built their home, raised their children, opened a plant nursery and began restoring the farm fields to native prairie, wetland and woodland habitat.

The more restoration they completed, the deeper their interest in conservation grew. Restoring the land wasn’t enough–they were moved to help nurture the local conservation community as well. Marlene joined the board of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. Hugh joined the board of the Conservation District’s Foundation, where he served for several years, including a term as President.

The Frisbie’s conservation ethic extends beyond the land to include energy conservation as well. A few years ago they decided to install a new super-energy efficient heating-cooling system, and chose geothermal which relies on a heat-pump and the constant temperature underground to cool air in summer and heat it in winter.

The payback on the system is about 10 years through dramatically reduced utility costs, especially when solar panels help provide the electricity to run the heat pump!

When Honda released the 70 mile-per-gallon Insight gas-electric hybrid car, they were among the first in the area to purchase one, dramatically reducing their need for gasoline.

Today, Marlene serves as Chair of the City of Woodstock’s Environmental Commission and Hugh serves on the board of Openlands, a regional land conservation organization based in Chicago.

In 2011, they placed 56 acres of their 61 acre property into a permanent conservation easement. Their conservation land is located in an area of the county rich in natural resources and lands protected by public and private landowners, totaling 2,275 acres.

What will they conserve next?