FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kelli Alfano, Public Affairs Coordinator
734/623-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ducks Unlimited and its Partners Prepare to Begin Construction at Crane Lake Project
Peoria, IL – July 24, 2006 –The Illinois River basin is a critical migration corridor for waterfowl that is used by approximately 25 percent of all ducks in the Mississippi Flyway. Unfortunately, the continued loss and degradation of wetland habitat along the Illinois River has led to serious declines in waterfowl use, and to concerns about water quality conditions in downstream communities.
Because of its importance to both waterfowl and people, Ducks Unlimited (DU) has made the Illinois River basin a focus area for its efforts to restore, conserve and protect vital wetland habitat. A strategic project that DU currently has underway to improve both wildlife habitat and water quality associated with the Illinois River, is the restoration of Crane Lake at Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area in Mason County.
Crane Lake is a 1,000-acre backwater lake that serves as an important waterfowl refuge for the Illinois River. In 2002, a large flood breeched a state owned levee partially diverting the Sangamon River into a new course through Crane Lake. A damaged and undersized water control structure at Crane Lake now restricts the flow of water and threatens to further impact habitat conditions by preventing the growth and development of wetland vegetation important to migrating waterfowl.
Working closely with Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Crane Lake Game Preserve, DU has designed a new water control structure with much larger flow capacity that will improve management capabilities at this important site. In addition to enhancing waterfowl habitat, restored wetland vegetation will help improve water quality by trapping excess nutrients and sediment from the Sangamon River.
Funding for the project is being provided by the Illinois duck stamp program, Crane Lake Game Preserve, Caterpillar, and through a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“The Illinois River is a national treasure. It is essential that conservationists come together in a united front to help address environmental problems and to restore healthy, naturally functioning ecosystems at places like Crane Lake,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist, Eric Schenck. “We can not afford to lose these areas to continued degradation.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.