Illinois Department of Natural Resources  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2010  

Wildlife Habitat Acquired in Jersey County

IDNR works with partners to expand public access for outdoor recreation

GRAFTON, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has acquired a 197-acre parcel adjacent to the state’s Copperhead Hollow State Wildlife Area and near Pere Marquette State Park in Jersey County, working with a number of partner agencies and organizations to protect valuable habitat and provide additional hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities in the region.

The IDNR purchased the oak and hickory woodlands parcel adjacent to Copperhead Hollow SWA in western Jersey County late last month. The acquisition was made possible thanks to the support of hunters and the National Wild Turkey Federation – along with a partnership between energy company Kinder Morgan, The Conservation Fund, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The property had been a high priority for preservation and its purchase complements broader efforts to protect and restore forests along the bluffs of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers – a significant migration corridor for a variety of sensitive species. The 197 acres were acquired at fair market value for $790,000. The acquisition was made possible by a $371,616 grant from the USFWS/The Conservation Fund, $393,384 from the Illinois Habitat Fund, and $25,000 from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

“The acquisition of this parcel near Pere Marquette State Park and adjacent to the Copperhead Hollow State Wildlife Area shows the value of conservation partners working together,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Utilizing funds invested by sportsmen and women through the Illinois Habitat Fund, along with the commitments of the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kinder Morgan, we’re providing some outstanding habitat for expanded public access and outdoor recreation opportunities.”

“This acquisition helps advance the goals of NWTF’s North American Wild Turkey Management Plan by conserving important habitat for wild turkeys and associated species like migratory songbirds,” said Kent Adams, regional biologist for NWTF.

“It also advances NWTF’s More Places to Hunt Initiative by adding acres to a state wildlife area where public hunting opportunities are available. The NWTF Super Fund is built by the dollars raised by our grass-roots volunteers at their annual fundraising events held all over the state. Their efforts and commitment to conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage allow us to direct funds to important projects like this one,” said Adams.

Kinder Morgan is constructing a 1,700-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Colorado to Ohio. Despite careful planning to minimize impacts, these construction projects cannot avoid all adverse impacts on vulnerable migratory bird habitat. To compensate for the loss of forestland and accelerate approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Kinder Morgan voluntarily agreed to establish mitigation funds to be used to compensate for any impacts. The Conservation Fund manages these accounts and, with the oversight of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides grants to conservation projects that preserve habitat for vulnerable bird species.

“This is the first use of these mitigation funds in Illinois and an excellent model for how we can advance conservation and meet the growing energy needs of our country,” said Peg Kohring, Midwest director of The Conservation Fund. “Private mitigation funds also help leverage public dollars, alleviating pressure on states facing tight budgets in these tough economic times.”

“Using these grants to help protect habitat shows it’s possible to develop energy infrastructure in an environmentally sound manner,” said Tom Melius, Midwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The choice isn’t, and rarely should be, between wildlife or development, but rather how we accommodate both needs in a holistic manner. We hope others will follow the example set here.”

###