In 2001, Congress authorized the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program and the State Wildlife Grant Program. These programs were established to improve wildlife habitat stewardship and management with the goal of reducing the number of species requiring listing as threatened or endangered. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) serves as the lead agency to manage these programs nationwide. USFWS mandates that the governing focus be wildlife species in greatest need of conservation (SGNC), and requires all states to develop and maintain ten-year wildlife management plans. Illinois completed the Illinois Comprehensive
Wildlife Conservation Plan (IL WAP), after a collaborative effort between state, federal and non-governmental organizations.
IL WAP identifies 31 Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA's) within the state. These areas have special importance for conserving SGNC and for preserving specific natural communities.
Our locale is rich in natural resources and we were fortunate to have three separate COAs in or about Ogle and Lee counties: Rock River COA; Nachusa COA; and Green River Lowlands COA.
Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs)
Land managers and volunteers from the three designated COA's were familiar with each other and had partnered on a few projects. Therefore, with IDNR approval, the COA's merged into the Middle Rock River Conservation Partners. MRRCP began restoring woodlands, wetlands, prairies, seeps, savannas and more in Lee and Ogle counties. Our partnership grew into a prescribed fire crew, stewardship work days scheduled on sites within the COAs, volunteer training seminars, sharing labor and equipment, and educational programming.
Leaders of the predecessor group saw an opportunity to have a far greater impact by incorporating as a nonprofit. This would allow
the group to receive tax-deductible donations, to be eligible for a far wider array of grants and to possibly become an Operator of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land that it might lease from other nonprofits. Middle Rock Conservation Partners (MRCP) succeeded the Middle Rock River Conservation Partners (MRRCP). MRCP was incorporated as an Illinois nonprofit corporation on April 19, 2017. We have Federal 501(c)(3) status.
MRCP is governed by a three person Board of Directors who serve staggered two-year terms. Members elect the Board of Directors at the annual meeting. The Board elects the Officers who serve one-year terms.