When The Land Conservancy of McHenry County did a survey of members and other community stakeholders last year, one of the frustrating results was that even some people who know me personally still think TLC is something other than what it is! The confusion is understandable, because there are a lot of local groups that would be described generally as “environmental” in nature. But it is still frustrating!
Some folks think that TLC is the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD), which is a unit of local government that obtains the majority of its income from property taxes. MCCD owns more than 25,000 acres, and manages much of it for public uses such as paddling, hiking, bird-watching and x-country skiing. MCCD’s board members and budget are approved by the McHenry County Board. TLC works with the good people at MCCD sometimes, but the organizations are unrelated.
Other folks know that TLC is a nonprofit, but assume that we are part of “The Defenders” – the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, a 40+ year old nonprofit organization that has played an important advocacy role on projects ranging from the “Fox Valley Freeway” up by Richmond, to recycling, groundwater conservation and watershed protection.
The Defenders started TLC as a committee to figure out how to help private landowners preserve their land. As the committee defined the purpose of a “conservation land trust,” the Defenders’ board decided that it made more sense to incorporate this new entity as a separate nonprofit. In 1991, The Land Foundation of McHenry County received its official recognition from the IRS. In 2003, the organization changed its name to The Land Conservancy of McHenry County to avoid confusion with another local Foundation that was formed in 2000.
The other Foundation is the McHenry County Conservation Foundation, which primarily supports MCCD’s land acquisition mission. The Foundation was started in 2000 with a $1 million settlement from a pipeline company. Since then, the Foundation ran two successful referenda for MCCD – one in 2001 and the other in 2007. Combined, the referenda raised about $140 million for land acquisition by MCCD. The Foundation has about $600,000 in the bank to help run a future referendum. The Foundation has an office at MCCD’s Lost Valley Visitor Center (at Glacial Park).
The other source of confusion is the word “Conservancy” in TLC’s name, which prompts some folks to think we are The Nature Conservancy, or somehow affiliated with them. I worked for The Nature Conservancy’s Illinois Chapter for 5 years, and I can guarantee that TLC is in no way connected with them (I wish we had their money and their million+ members though!). Once upon a time, TNC had a program in the Fox River Valley, but that was a long time ago.
So, that’s a little bit about what TLC is not. Since you are reading this on TLC’s blog, I’m going to direct you to the “About Us” tab at the top of the page if you are looking for more information about what we are!
Thanks for reading.