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July 3, 2001

Open Land Trust to Buy Much-Needed Waterfowl Refuge, Recreational Land in Fulton County

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the state has acquired 1,960 acres of land in Fulton County through the Open Land Trust Program that will provide a much needed waterfowl refuge and public recreation land in Fulton County.

"This acquisition will provide important habitat for native and migrating waterfowl, recreational lands for the public to enjoy and provide a boost for the local economy through increased tourism," Ryan said. "The Illinois Open Land Trust is protecting and enhancing our natural resources and providing recreational lands throughout this state."

The state acquired the land northwest of Canton at auction in 18 tracts from The Nature Conservancy for $3.6 million. TNC auctioned a total of 5,300 acres in 63 tracts. The property will be managed as a waterfowl refuge with grassland and cropland management practices designed to provide a resting area for waterfowl. The acquisition was part of a long-range goose management plan for Fulton/Knox counties.

The Department of Natural Resources will manage the property and develop management and recreational plans for the site. Individuals who currently farm a portion of the land will be granted a one-year extension of their leases to provide a transitional period. After that time, ground that continues to be farmed will be under new lease agreements that are competitively bid.

Sen. George P. Shadid, D-Edwards, thanked the Governor for supporting the acquisition in his district and noted Fulton County would receive a community planning allowance from the state of $252,700 for capital improvements.

"Thanks to the Governor's historic land acquisition program and his support the people of my district and throughout Illinois will be able to enjoy this land," Shadid said. "This acquisition is a winner for the public. The state will be good stewards of this land and will manage it in the best possible manner."

To date, the Governor's Open Land Trust Initiative has resulted in the state's acquisition of nearly 14,300 acres for protection from development, much needed open space, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, forest restoration and to create a high priority trail corridor. More than 3,400 acres of additional open space are being acquired by local governments through grants from the Open Land Trust.

The Open Land Trust Initiative, the largest land acquisition program in state history, is providing $200 million over four years for land purchases and improvements to protect the state's most precious natural resources.


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