EAST PEORIA, Ill. – Feb. 7, 2014 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) recently took another important step to protect the last remaining vestiges of undeveloped wetland habitat remaining in Central Illinois. Stewart Lake is a remote and largely inaccessible natural backwater lake along the Illinois River near Browning, Ill. It is part of a complex of backwater lakes, wetlands, sloughs, and forested islands that cover nearly 30 square miles at the confluence of the Sangamon and Illinois Rivers. According to Eric Schenck, DU’s manager of conservation programs, the purchase of 744 acres at Stewart Lake is part of a larger 5-year conservation strategy to protect 3,000 acres of Illinois River wetland habitat under DU’s new Big Rivers initiative.
"Stewart Lake is a fantastic example of what the Illinois River Valley probably looked like a hundred years ago," said Schenck during an announcement of DU’s purchase at the wetland organization’s annual state convention in East Peoria, Ill. "Stewart Lake has a ‘wilderness-like’ character about it and is one of about two dozen important wetland sites along the Illinois River that migrating waterfowl depend upon year after year."
Outgoing state chairman Galen Johnson from Pawnee, Ill., thanked DU members, donors and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for the $834,000 that was needed to make the acquisition of Stewart Lake possible. "DU is fortunate to have this kind of support that allows us to protect best of the best wetland habitat remaining in Illinois," Johnson added.