Jenkins/ValZelst Marsh might merge with Woodford SFWA

February 17, 2013 at 07:31 AM

Jenkins/VanZelst Marsh, a 242-acre wetland along the Illinois River, could soon become part of Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chillicothe.

Eric Schenck, regional biologist with Ducks Unlimited, said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is making plans to acquire the marsh from DU.

The parties have not set a price, but Schenck said DNR has some funds available for acquisition and that the price likely will be in line with an appraisal of the property.

But the marsh isn’t ready to change owners just yet.

“We still have restoration work to do,” Schenck said.

About $700,000 worth of restoration work must be completed first, including levee repairs.

“There’s a big hole in the levee now,” Schenck said.

The site includes about 100 acres of marsh, some associated prairies, wetlands and some diverse types of wetlands.

But that’s not the only project ongoing for Ducks Unlimited in Illinois.

Continuing its efforts to conserve wetlands along the Illinois River, DU has purchased Chillicothe Bottoms, a 232-acre natural area.

The total cost of the project was $810,000, paid for with grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and Grand Victoria Foundation.

Overall, DU has $5 million to acquire or protect through conservation easement 3,000 acres in the next five years.

The Peoria Audubon Society already has joined the project as a partner on the Chillicothe Bottoms project, conducting regular bird surveys.

Schenck also said Illinois duck hunters should be proud of another milestone reached in the past year.

The Illinois duck stamp program has reached $10 million in funds dedicated to breeding and nesting habitat projects in Canada.

Under state statute, half of the duck stamp license fee goes to habitat projects in Canada that are tied to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

A state waterfowl stamp costs $15 annually.

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).