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Print

Good news along the Illinois River

February 26, 2010 at 02:21 AM

For all the obvious problems with flooding and Asian carp, there are less publicized stories of success to be told along the Illinois River.

Ducks Unlimited has helped write several of those tales in recent years by protecting wetlands and backwaters along the river.

The latest DU conservation project involves Pluckeman’s Slough — a 1.5-mile stretch of backwater that links the Illinois River and the Sanganois Conservation Area about 60 miles southwest of Peoria.

DU acquired Pluckeman’s Slough with funding from various sources, including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

A total of 450 acres has been transferred to the Department of Natural Resources, some through a cooperative agreement with the Illinois
Conservation Foundation. Those backwater lakes and bottomland forests will be managed for public hunting and recreational use.

Admittedly, use will be limited since the area is accessible by boat only. But that’s OK. The important thing is to protect land in the largest expanse of undeveloped wetland habitat left in the Illinois River Valley.

“This acquisition is great news for waterfowl hunters, canoeists and other outdoor enthusiasts,” DNR Director Marc Miller said.

Other ground in the same area has been put into protective conservation easements.

“(Despite tight state budgets and limited private funding) we can’t sit idly by and wring our hands in despair,” said Eric Schenck, “Future generations depend on all of us to do the right thing and advance conservation even during the most trying of times.”

This latest deal joins a list of DU projects that includes Wightman Lake, the Duck Ranch near Henry, Weiss Lake and the Spring Lake Bottoms. Slowly but surely, the resume of DU accomplishments in Illinois is growing.

That was emphasized last weekend when quacker-backers gathered for their state convention in East Peoria. Also celebrated at the duckfest was DU’s 50,000th acre of wetland conservation in Illinois — which came last year on a wetland restoration at the Double T State Fish and Wildlife Area near Canton.

Now Schenck hopes to find a project in Upper Peoria Lake.

“What we’re looking for is more rest areas, places where we can move off the lake itself,” he said.

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