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August 28, 2002

Governor Ryan Tours Chouteau Island; Lauds Benefits of Open Space

MADISON, IL -- Governor George H. Ryan today toured a state acquisition of 2,200 acres in Madison County, purchased through the Governor’s successful Open Lands Trust initiative.

“This acquisition is greatly benefiting the region and improving the quality of life for local and regional residents,” the Governor said. “This is what the Open Land Trust Program is all about and we hope to acquire more land in this area.”

The Governor began his tour of the state’s section of the Confluence Greenway, a 40-mile area extending from St. Louis to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, just south of I-270. The 1-mile long bridge is owned by the city of Madison and dates back to 1929. It is one of the longest recreational bridges in the country and is a center piece of the Confluence Greenway, which is now being developed for recreational purposes. The bridge provides spectacular views of the Chouteau Island complex.

Most of the 2,200 acres owned by the state was acquired last fall for $2.8 million through the Governor’s Open Land Trust Program, a four-year, $200 million initiative to acquire property for conservation, natural resource protection and recreation purposes. It is the largest acquisition program in the history of the state. The Trust for Public Land and the Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation and Development Inc., contributed another $500,000 to the acquisition.

“Dedication and hard work by people in state agencies in Illinois and Missouri, the federal government and a wealth of interest groups on both sides of the river are making this recreational corridor a reality,” the Governor said. “It is a project in which we all can take great pride.”

The Confluence Greenway is a 40-mile riverside recreation and conservation area on both banks of the Mississippi River, extending from the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis, Mo., to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton. The greeenway will offer unprecedented acres to the waterfront for walking, biking, fishing, birdwatching, riverwatching and much more. The project will restore and protect environmentally sensitive land, plants and wildlife habitat, while helping to keep our rivers clean, control flooding and reduce storm runoff.

Chouteau Island is a complex of three Mississippi River islands. Extensive portions of this 5,600-acre area are owned by public agencies, including the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Madison County. Working with a collaboration of seven non-profit organizations, a plan is being developed to preserve this ecologically rich setting as urban open space.

Since the beginning of the Ryan Administration in 1999, the state has acquired 65,000 acres for public use, recreation and conservation management, more than five times the total amount of land purchased by the state in the previous five years. Over those three years, the OLT has accounted for roughly 44,289 acres of the state’s purchases for conservation, wildlife habitat and recreation.


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