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PEORIA, Illinois – Jan. 9, 2019 – Outdoor enthusiasts in central Illinois have 247 acres of new public land to explore, hunt and hike because of a major Ducks Unlimited conservation effort with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The Illinois DNR purchased the tract of land from Ducks Unlimited and merged it into the Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area in Woodford County, north of Peoria. Woodford is on the shores of Goose Lake and Upper Peoria Lake and is part of the major Illinois River corridor for migrating birds, including waterfowl.
This conservation achievement began in 2010, when Ducks Unlimited purchased the former agriculture field to restore it as a marsh for fall and spring migration habitat. Ducks Unlimited restored 55 acres back to native tall grasses and wet prairie and are helping remove more than 50 acres of invasive tree species and phragmites vegetation.
Over the next two years, Ducks Unlimited and the Illinois DNR will restore two marsh management units totaling 125 acres. The DNR plans to eventually allow waterfowl hunting on-site.
Ducks Unlimited will reinvest the $885,000 from the land sale back into its Illinois River Valley conservation efforts, including increased support of public waterfowl management areas. The Illinois DNR was happy to offer more public access.
“One of the missions of the IDNR is to expand our public lands in the Illinois River Valley, and this property will be an excellent addition,” said Tony Colvin, site superintendent at the Woodford and Marshall State Fish & Wildlife Areas. “We look forward to managing this prime tract of property to benefit waterfowl and other wetland flora and fauna. The IDNR is excited to work with Ducks Unlimited in the immediate future to develop this area into a high-quality wetland habitat.”
Ducks Unlimited used funding support from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to buy the land in 2010.
“Jenkins Marsh is one of the flagship projects of Ducks Unlimited’s Big Rivers Initiative,” said Michael Sertle, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist in Illinois. “Improving the quality of public land in the Illinois River Valley region is a priority for Ducks Unlimited.”
Mark Schore is a longtime volunteer with the Ducks Unlimited Peoria chapter. Schore hunts at Woodford SFWA, and has led groups of volunteers on tree planning missions at the Jenkins Marsh property.
“I’m excited that this land will be included into Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area,” he said. “Ducks Unlimited is working to create habitat that produces vegetation beneficial to ducks not just during fall migration, but also the important spring migration as ducks head back north for breeding.”
Ducks Unlimited has more than 33,000 members in Illinois and has protected, enhanced or restored more than 63,000 acres in the state. Learn more at www.ducks.org/Illinois.