TLC Protects 300+ Acres for New Park in Public-Private Conservation Partnership

Published on
09 March 2022

For Immediate Release
Contact: Bold Bison Communications & Consulting, [email protected]
(Media Inquiries Only)
THE LAND CONSERVANCY OF MCHENRY COUNTY PROTECTS 300+ ACRES FOR
NEW PARK IN PUBLIC-PRIVATE CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP

*** Largest acquisition in land trust’s history will create public open space while
preserving globally rare ecosystem ***
*** Community members invited to shape vision for park’s future ***

(Woodstock, IL – March 9, 2022) In a significant local win for land conservation, The Land
Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) announces the acquisition of a 323-acre farm located
at the intersection of Thompson Road, Rt. 120, and Fleming Roads, near Bull Valley, IL. The
acquisition fulfills a community vision to protect the site’s natural and ecological features and will
result in the creation of a new public nature park.

This conservation success is a result of a multi-year partnership between TLC, the Village of Bull
Valley, and the Thompson Road Farm Project. Formed to preserve this property’s ecological
features, the Thompson Road Farm Project (TRFP) is a grassroots coalition of local residents,
representing a diversity of perspectives from the Bull Valley community. Following acquisition,
TLC, TRFP, and the Village of Bull Valley will engage community residents in developing future
use and site plans for the park, and in restoring the property’s unique ecosystems.

The land acquisition, the largest ever in TLC’s history, was financed through a grant from the
Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and a loan from Harvard State Bank. As a
conservation land trust, TLC provides the crucial bridge between the visionary partners of the
TRFP and the Village of Bull Valley to facilitate a land transaction of this scale.

“This acquisition is a once-in-a-generation project and represents a transformational chapter in our
land trust’s 30-year history,” said Lisa Haderlein, Executive Director of The Land
Conservancy of McHenry County. “Not only does Thompson Road Farm build on our legacy,
but it shows how TLC can support truly large, visionary community projects across McHenry
County. When we partner on land protection projects like this, we commit for perpetuity, and we
look forward to our long-term community partnership in restoring this property in the coming
years.”

“Welcoming Thompson Road Farm into our park system is a perfect fit with Village character and
an affirmation of the Village’s commitment to resource protection,” said Village President Emily
Berendt. “This project builds on a partnership between the Village and TLC to establish the
Fleming Road Natural Heritage Corridor over 10 years ago, and we are grateful to TLC and the
Thompson Road Farm Project for enhancing our community’s character by stewarding the process
to protect this property.”

“The Thompson Road Farm Project members are a diverse group of committed individuals,
representing several local organizations, who brought different skills to the table and came together
with the common goal of preserving the farm property’s ecosystems,” said Bull Valley Riding
Club President Patrick Skvoretz. “The property has been farmed for generations and horses have
historically been part of the fabric of the land, and it’s where our Riding Club was founded. Today,
we can say with certainty that this legacy will endure while protecting the natural beauty.”

“Facilitating land protection to fulfill a community’s vision is the exemplary work of a local land
trust like TLC,” said Andrew Bowman, President and CEO of the Land Trust Alliance.

“Public-private partnerships like this energize our collective work to conserve land, and the Land
Trust Alliance congratulates all partners on this conservation success story.” Founded in 1982, the
Land Trust Alliance supports its 950+ member land trusts across the country, including TLC,
through policy, education, and training, helping ensure the highest standards in private land
conservation.

During the initial ecological restoration, TLC will open the site to the public on a limited basis
later this year for passive, low-impact recreation before the property becomes part of the Village
of Bull Valley Park System. The Land Conservancy will hold the conservation easement, ensuring
the property remains protected open space for future generations.

The Thompson Road Farm project partners invite members of the community to participate in
shaping the future of this new park. TLC will collect community input while site management and
restoration plans are developed. Public meetings, tours, and specific opportunities to provide input
will be announced later this year. Additionally, residents are encouraged to donate to the
fundraising campaign that will support further ecological restoration and stewardship on the
property. Naming and sponsorship opportunities are available. Parties interested in joining in
this community effort are encouraged to contact TLC at 815-337-9502 or donate at
www.conservemc.org.

Additional Information about the Project:
The Thompson Road Farm Project was formed to “acquire and preserve this ecologically
significant land to guarantee future generations the ability to access and enjoy a unique
resource.” Using a combination of conservation easements, fee acquisition and community
fundraising, the Thompson Road Farm Project seeks to safeguard the water quality in Boone
Creek, while preserving nearly 274 acres of natural areas–including 100 acres of peatland–to
secure a community resource that will benefit residents in the surrounding area in perpetuity.

Members of the Thompson Road Farm Project include: Lisa Haderlein, Executive Director, The
Land Conservancy of McHenry County; Emily Berendt, President, Village of Bull Valley;
Patrick Skvoretz, President Bull Valley Riding Club; Ders Anderson, Member, The Land
Conservancy Board of Directors; Nicola and John Birch, Deo Gloria Farm, Bull Valley Riding
Club members; Elaine Ramesh Ph.D JD, Chair, Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County; Mark
Newton, Trustee, Village of Bull Valley

Property History:
The Thompson Road Farm has a rich history in McHenry County, beginning as part of the
Thompson Family homestead in the late 1800’s. More recently it was home to the Jung Family,
including Bull Valley Riding Club organizer Nancy Jung, who founded the Club on the property
in 1963. The farm’s “heritage trail” network is the original network of bridle trails dating back to
the club’s origin. Over five miles of the site’s equestrian trails will be preserved, with many
maintained as public multi-use trails for future generations.

Future Site Amenities:
The site will incorporate permanent trail easements for equestrian and other public recreational
uses, as the property contains over 5 miles of interconnected trails. Public uses under
consideration include horseback riding, hiking and walking trails, 5k trail runs, birding,
snowshoeing and educational outreach events.

A public viewing area will be created on Thompson Road for observation of the many wetland
species of plants and animals, including the seasonally resident sandhill cranes. The farm features
scenic, rolling terrain and provides unimpeded natural views from almost every area of the
property. Additional grants and donations are being sought to restore remaining acreage of native
grassland prairie.

Ecological Significance:
Boone Creek is a high-quality cold water creek and is fed by the high concentration of privately
owned Illinois Nature Preserves, primarily fens, seeps and springs. The Nature Preserves
represent some of the most unique natural heritage sites remaining in Illinois. Preservation of the
Thompson Road Farm will safeguard the water quality found in the creek today by restoring a
functioning wetland system to filter and manage the water that eventually flows into the creek.

“Boone Creek is one of the most important ecological treasures in Northeastern Illinois, making
Thompson Road Farm a true ecological gem” added Haderlein. “The creek drains 23 square miles
in McHenry County, so restoring a functioning wetland system on the property will enhance not
only the quality of Boone Creek, but the overall water quality in the area.”

The property is part of the larger system of nature preserves and private conservation easements
including Boone Creek Fen, Gladstone Fen, and Boloria Fen State Natural Area sites, all within a
2-mile radius of the farm. Additionally, the property adds to the Village of Bull Valley’s Fleming
Road Natural Heritage Corridor, created 10 years ago.

Another notable feature of the Thompson Road Farm property is its glacial topography,
particularly, a glacial backwater basin associated with the “below the glacier” meltwater river
drainage that created the 100+ foot deep Boone Creek valley. This feature can be seen as the
large peatland area in the north part of the property. Although the peat area was farmed until a
couple of years ago, it has not been farmed recently due to a failing draining system. The
restoration potential of the peatland is considered high.

A Climate-Smart Investment
Restoration of degraded peatlands is one of the highest priorities for mitigating the effects of
climate change. Peat soils naturally absorb and retain large amounts of carbon, and even soils
that have been degraded by drainage and hydrologic changes hold great potential to recover once
a healthy water cycle is re-established. Given that peat soils comprise just 3% of the Earth’s land
area, a project that preserves and restores over 100 acres of peat is ecologically significant.

About The Land Conservancy of McHenry County
Formed in 1991, the mission of TLC is to Preserve Land for Life and has protected over 2,800
acres of McHenry County’s diverse prairies, wetlands and woodlands by working with private
landowners, communities and other partners. For more information, please visit conservemc.org.

TLC board member David Hall and executive director Lisa Haderlein celebrate closing on the 323-acre property in Bull Valley.
TLC board member David Hall and attorney Michael Smoron at the property closing.

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4622 Dean Street, (or PO Box 352), Woodstock, IL 60098   |   (815) 337-9502   |   Copyright © 2022 by The Land Conservancy of McHenry County. All rights reserved.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County is a 501(c)(3) organization