IDNR Expands Partnership with Ducks Unlimited

East Peoria, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources
(IDNR) has renewed a long standing partnership with Ducks Unlimited
(DU) through the acceptance of a 370-acre parcel of property in
Marshall County.  IDNR Director Marc Miller accepted the donation
on behalf of the agency at the annual Illinois DU state convention
in East Peoria.

The donated property is located along the Illinois River
approximately 20 miles north of Peoria near the Village of
Sparland.  The parcel – known as Wightman Lake – is accessible by
Ill. Rt. 29. It has been designated as a waypoint on the Illinois
River Road National Scenic Byway and will become part of the
Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area (SFWA).

“This is a great example of how working together, even in
challenging economic times, organizations can make a difference for
the environment.  I personally want to thank the members and
leadership of Ducks Unlimited for their generosity, energy, and
continued commitment to conservation,” said IDNR Director
Miller.

IDNR also signed a cooperative management agreement with DU for
Wightman Lake.  During the first three years of the partnership, DU
and Marshall SFWA staff will work together to fully establish
habitat restoration practices associated with the donation.  IDNR
will assume full maintenance and management responsibilities at the
end of the initial 36 months.

“This donation is an expansion of conservation and recreation
opportunities in Illinois and it would not be possible without the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  DU is excited about the
future of this partnership and this agency under the leadership of
Director Miller and Governor Pat Quinn,” said DU regional biologist
Eric Schenck.

Ducks Unlimited originally purchased the 370 acres on the north
end of Wightman Lake in December 2004 for $648,000.  Since that
time, DU has invested more than $400,000 in the restoration of
wetland and bottomland hardwood habitat with the goal of making
Wightman Lake a showcase for wetland conservation.

The Wightman Lake donation is a positive development.  It will
allow the property to be open to the public for compatible
recreational and educational purposes in the future, including
serving visitors of the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway. 
Also, the donation represents one of the very first cooperative
conservation achievements between DU and IDNR to be accomplished
under the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.

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