Ducks Unlimited is improving and protecting land along the crucial Illinois River migration corridor.
DU and its conservation partners are restoring 55 acres of former agricultural land at the Jenkins Marsh/VanZelst Farm project adjoining Upper Peoria Lake. The restoration features 30 acres of mesic prairie with seed provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Ducks Unlimited is providing 25 acres of wet prairie seed and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will prepare and seed the land.
Jenkins Marsh is one of DU's flagship projects of the Big Rivers Initiative. Ducks Unlimited in 2010 purchased the 246-acre property with funding support from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Ducks Unlimited plans to restore the site as a semi-permanent emergent marsh to provide habitat for ducks during their fall and spring migration. The restored marsh will benefit lesser scaup, a diving duck species that used to be found in abundance on Upper Peoria Lake during the fall migration, but their numbers have declined by more than 90 percent because of degraded water quality and wetland habitat conditions.
Through Wetlands America Trust, DU purchased 146 acres of wildlife habitat a little more than two miles southwest of Jenkins Marsh.
The land is in a bay on the east side of Upper Peoria Lake and adjoins Woodford County State Fish and Wildlife Area. The parcel contains classic backwater lake, floodplain forest and natural wetland spring. This habitat is beneficial for waterfowl, shorebirds wading birds and a variety of wetland dependent wildlife including about 21 of the critical wildlife species identified in the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan as priorities for the Middle Illinois River Conservation Opportunity Area.
This parcel was selected as part of a comprehensive strategy for protecting a complex of wetland habitats clustered around Woodford County SFWA along the eastern shore of Upper Peoria Lake. Primary public access is expected to be by boat.
Ducks Unlimited eventually plans to transfer the Hagemann parcel to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to become part of Woodford County SFWA.