Waterfowl hunters and birders alike will soon have greater access to Stewart Lake, one of the best remaining and least disturbed backwater lakes in the Illinois River Valley.

Located next to Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area in a large, wilderness-like area of Mason County, this 1,500-acre shallow lake wetland is an important natural rest area for migrating teal, pintails, mallards and other ducks.

In early 2014 DU purchased 745 acres on the west end of Stewart Lake. In 2015, DU secured purchase agreements to the remaining 800 acres on the east end of Stewart Lake.

DU will donate the west half of Stewart Lake to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a new public hunting area. The east end will be donated to the Illinois Audubon Society to become a permanent sanctuary for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

"This is a rare opportunity to acquire and protect a backwater lake in its entirety," said Eric Schenck, DU manager of conservation programs in Illinois. "Waterfowl hunters and birders share many of the same passions for the outdoors and the same commitment to conservation."

Stewart Lake is a showcase project of DU's Big River Initiative. Funding support for the acquisition of Stewart Lake is being provided by Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and the Grand Victoria Foundation.

February 2016