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PEORIA, Ill. – March 5, 2020 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and numerous partners invested $1.1 million to protect, enhance or restore 3,204 acres of wetland and grassland habitat across 14 Illinois project sites in 2019, greatly improving water quality and wildlife habitat.
Partners included the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, The Wetlands Initiative, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, the City of Quincy, private landowners and DU major donors.
The milestones in 2019 added to a sizeable historical investment in Illinois. Over the last 30 years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 66,000 wetland and grassland acres across the state, investing nearly $24 million into wetland habitats.
“Illinois’ wetlands play a significant role for local and continental waterfowl,” said Michael Sertle, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist in Illinois. “But our wetlands are also crucial for water quality. Illinois has lost well over 85 percent of its wetlands, and we are one of the states heavily responsible for the water quality sent downstream via the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The more wetlands we can put back on the landscape, the better for ducks and residents.”
Highlights from 2019 include:
- Illinois River Valley – Ducks Unlimited is leading a $5 million conservation effort to safeguard wetlands from further human development and climate change. The Conserving the Illinois River Legacy program combines support from more than a half-dozen partners and federal funding to protect, enhance or restore over 13,000 acres across 19 counties bordering the middle and lower stretches of the river.
- Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge – The Friends of Hackmatack Wetland Conservation North American Wetlands Conservation Act Project acquired 19 acres and restored 142 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats in the refuge.
- Shawnee National Forest – DU, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Forest Service partnered to install new infrastructure giving the USFS the tools to properly manage water levels for over 320 acres of moist soil and forested wetlands.
For a complete report of 2019 activities and a look into what’s planned for 2020 and beyond, see the Illinois Conservation Report at www.ducks.org/Illinois.