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Governor Quinn Annouonces Major Investments in Conservation and Illinois State Parks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACTS:
Chris Young
217-557-1240
Governor Quinn Annouonces Major Investments in Conservation and Illinois State Parks
Announces Expansion at Starved Rock State Park, Land Acquisitions and $6.5 Million in State Park Capital Projects
OGLESBY � Governor Pat Quinn today announced the acquisition of a 51-acre parcel of land adjacent to Starved Rock State Park that will provide additional wildlife space and serve as a buffer to protect the park. The Governor also announced wildlife habitat land acquisition in Edgar, Woodford and Jackson Counties and improvement projects at state parks operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Today�s announcement is part of Governor Quinn�s agenda to protect our natural areas and expand outdoor activities for the people of Illinois.
 
�Starved Rock State Park is one of our most beautiful natural areas, and this property acquisition will protect the land we have while increasing the space available for state park users to enjoy,� Governor Quinn said. �In addition, the investments in central, eastern and southern Illinois will greatly expand wildlife habitat in these regions and ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy Illinois� great outdoors.�

The recently acquired property at Starved Rock State Park is 51.47 acres with steep bluffs and ravines located adjacent to a dedicated nature preserve. The property formerly included a campground area, but most of the campsite facilities were removed prior to acquisition. The property was purchased from a private estate for the appraised value of $900,000 using Open Land Trust funds. In addition to providing additional recreational activities at Starved Rock, this site will provide protection against incompatible future development.

Governor Quinn also announced today that IDNR has acquired 121 acres from Pheasants Forever to expand public hunting opportunities in Edgar County. The new parcel is contiguous to the northern boundary of the 87-acre Willow Creek State Habitat Area near Paris. The acquisition more than doubles the hunting acreage available at the site. The property will be managed for pheasant hunting, other wildlife species and additional recreational activities. IDNR purchased the land using $300,000 from Open Land Trust Funds and $22,000 from the State Pheasant Fund.

�Strong partnerships, like the one we enjoy with Pheasants Forever, allow the IDNR to better carry out its mission of improving outdoor recreational opportunities,� IDNR Director Marc Miller said. �Groups like Pheasants Forever can move quickly when land becomes available. By doing so, they play a key role in efforts to expand habitat and hunting opportunities to meet a growing need.�

IDNR is acquiring Jenkins Marsh, a 242-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Woodford County State Conservation Area in Woodford County. IDNR currently owns 5,425 acres at this location in Woodford, Tazewell and Peoria counties. The new acquisition will expand the Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area and provide additional space for hunting and recreational opportunities. IDNR will work with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Ducks Unlimited to develop a wetland restoration and management plan. IDNR will close on the land by the end of the year, using $885,000 from the Open Land Trust Funds.

Governor Quinn also noted that IDNR and CONSOL Mining Company LLC, a subsidiary of CONSOL Energy, Inc., have announced a contract to purchase 4,400 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat. The property, known as Burning Star Mine #5, is located seven miles north of Carbondale. The parcel is bordered by U.S. 51 on the west and Illinois 149 on the south. Completion of this transaction is subject to a number of customary conditions, and accordingly, a closing date for the sale has not yet been set.

�Large blocks of wildlife habitat are increasingly rare in Illinois, and that is why it is so important for the Department of Natural Resources to pursue the purchase of this property,� Director Miller said. �The Burning Star #5 property also is a premiere example of mine reclamation, and now has the potential to provide recreational opportunities for years to come.�

The property contains floodplain forest along the Little Muddy River, deep-water lakes and ponds, and leased farm ground that could eventually be restored to grassland habitat. The site should produce outstanding hunting opportunities for waterfowl, deer, turkey and upland game, plus trapping, fishing, hiking, limited camping and wildlife observation.
 
During its peak years of production, the Burning Star #5 Mine employed 337 people and produced 2.8 million tons of coal annually. The mine closed in 1992 and reclamation began. CONSOL Energy met all state and federal standards for mine reclamation and was released from final reclamation obligations in 2004.

"Governor Quinn's commitment to acquiring land for public recreation and environmental conservation will have a positive impact on Illinois and its citizens for generations to come," Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council said.

In addition to these land acquisitions, Governor Quinn announced $6,527,000 in improvement projects at state parks throughout Illinois to maintain their infrastructure and make them easier for visitors to use. The funding comes from the Governor�s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. The projects include:

Cook County, Chicago
William W. Powers, playground replacement, $53,000

DeKalb County, Shabbona
Shabbona, campground electric, $501,000

Grundy County, Morris
I&M Canal, trail segment rehabilitation phase 1, $289,000

Jersey County
Grafton: Pere Marquette, bike trail rehabilitation, $1,258,000
Grafton: Pere Marquette, lodge renovations, $1,479,000

Kankakee County
Kankakee River, playground replacement, $179,000

LaSalle County
Oglesby: Starved Rock, Trail rehabilitation phase 5, $1,405,000
Oglesby: Starved Rock, campground electrics, $591,000
Oglesby: Starved Rock, playground safety replacement, $105,000

Winnebago County
Rock Cut, campground water, sewer, and electric rehabilitation, $667,000

Listen to Governor Quinn and Director Miller during the announcement at Starved Rock State Park at this link:  http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/gov-10-4-14.mp3
 
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