In September, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council approved funding for the Bottomlands of the Great Rivers project, which will protect, restore, and enhance approximately 3,000 acres of wetlands on the Shawnee National Forest and Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Illinois. A $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant was matched by more than $2 million in partner donations to fund this project. This NAWCA grant will assist Ducks Unlimited and its partners in completing wetland conservation projects that are vital to migrating and wintering waterfowl. Wetland projects will be completed over the next four to five years in the Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir, Big Muddy River Bottoms, and Cache River floodplain.

"This NAWCA grant is a huge win for southern Illinois' wetlands, wildlife, and people," said DU regional biologist Michael Sertle. "It not only gives us the ability to upgrade and improve many existing wetlands, but also allows us to restore hundreds of acres of bottomland hardwood forest. We can't thank our partners enough for their efforts in all of this."

This NAWCA grant is the first of its kind awarded in the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture, a bird conservation planning ecoregion. A host of dedicated conservation partners helped DU secure this grant, including the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wetlands America Trust, National Wild Turkey Federation, Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development, Friends of the Cache River Watershed, Grand Tower DLD, Forrest-Keeling Nursery, and private landowners.