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March 28, 2004

Victory Rally to celebrate saving Plum Island from developers

Uttica, IL-- Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn lead a “Victory Rally” to celebrate the saving of Plum Island from a developer’s bulldozer which threatened eagle nests and Native American burial sites.
Quinn was joined by Sen. Pat Welch (D-Peru), Native American activist Joseph Standing Bear and leaders of Friends of Plum Island, Illinois Audubon Society, SOAR (Save Our American Raptors), Sierra Club, the Eagle Nature Foundation, and others activists involved in the victory.
A deal was finalized for purchase of the island in the Illinois River near Starved Rock State Park with funds provided by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to the Trust for Public Land.  The Illinois Audubon Society will be the new owner and will keep Plum Island pristine.
“This is a stunning victory for conservation, for eagles and eagle-watchers, and for the grassroots coalition whose relentless pressure made this happen,” said Quinn, who launched a petition drive signed by 26,461 citizens to protest the developer’s plans.  See http://www.saveoureagles.org/
Plum Island, an uninhabited 52-acre island 85 miles from Chicago’s Loop was threatened last year by developers who had purchased 45 acres on the island with plans to turn it into an exclusive 50-home community complete with a marina.  They intended to bulldoze half of the island, destroying eagle roosts and ancient Native American burial grounds.
“The bald eagle stands for independence, strength and grace, and we need to do everything possible to protect its habitat here in Illinois,” said Quinn, who as Lieutenant Governor is Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council.  “The people stood up to the bulldozers and now generations will be able to enjoy this magnificent species right here in Plum Island.”
Despite facing extinction only a few years ago, bald eagles can now be spotted in dozens of sites across Illinois and eagle-watching has become a booming source of tourism dollars.  In LaSalle County alone, eagle-watching generates $1.8 million, mostly during January “Starved Rock Bald Eagle Days”.

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