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MCCD: Best of the Best

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McHenry County Conservation District received Illinois Parks’ Partnership Award for its work with The Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County – one of three total.

McHenry County Conservation District receives three Illinois Parks’ Best of the Best awards.

McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) received three 2016 Best of the Best Awards from the Illinois Association of Park Districts due in no small part, it explained, to key relationships with Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County; radio/TV host and columnist Steve Sarley; and McHenry County Conservation Foundation (MCCF) and President Brad Semel.

Partnership Award

The Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County is the recipient of the Partnership Award for its involvement and fundraising efforts that resulted in jumpstarting and the installation of a 4.5-mile multi-purpose trail and temporary horse trailer parking lot at Brookdale Conservation Area in June of 2015.  This unique public/private partnership was formed with the Equestrian Coalition that represents 500 members from the Bull Valley Riding Club, McHenry County Horse Club, McHenry County Saddle Club and the Riding Club of Barrington Hills. The coalition raised $40,000 in seed money required for a $160,000 federal matching RTP grant.

“The Brookdale trail addition provides McHenry County residents access to another great outdoor recreational amenity that would not have been possible without the involvement and advocacy of these community partners,”said MCCD Board President Bona Heinsohn. “We congratulate the Equestrian Coalition of McHenry County for their perseverance and trailblazing efforts.”

Illinois Parks Top Journalist Award

Steve Sarley is the recipient of the Illinois Parks’ Top Journalist Award for not only his efforts in bringing recognition to outdoor recreation and promoting the future of fishing, but also for encouraging conservation of waterways and inspiring all generations of anglers. Through the mediums of radio, TV, print and digital, long-time outdoors media veteran Sarley’s efforts include his role as a weekly columnist for Shaw papers, bi-weekly columnist for the Illinois Outdoor News Magazine, owner and on air personality of “The Outdoor Experience” and host of the new “WeFishASA” Podcast.

What makes Sarley stand out is that by presenting entertaining and educational information, through intriguing interviews with tremendous guests, he will inspire more people to become interested and proficient in fishing. He hopes to encourage every fisherman to become Keep America Fishing members, and challenge every level of the industry to be advocates for clean, open and accessible waters for generations to come.

Outstanding Citizen Award

Brad Semel is the recipient for the Outstanding Citizen Award not only his exceptional leadership of the volunteer 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of open space in McHenry County, but for his tireless commitment and stewardship of Illinois natural areas as a Heritage Biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in Northeastern Illinois in District 7.

Through Semel’s leadership, the MCCF’s board of directors partner with other conservation organizations and state and federal agencies to protect and manage the natural resources in McHenry County. During Semel’s tenure, the foundation assisted in passing two open space referendums providing $141.5 million in funds to purchase open space and manage it for the public benefit as well as providing funds for numerous projects throughout McHenry County.  “Brad Semel is a selfless individual with a passion for the natural world,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler. “He inspires others to do exceptional work. Brad Semel is our conservation champion.

“We applaud all our winners for going above and beyond in their service to enhance the field of parks, recreation and conservation,” she added.

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