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September 8, 2000

State Acquires Nearly 190 Acres on Chouteau Island in Madison County

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the acquisition of nearly 190 acres on Chouteau Island in Madison County, in the heart of the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. The property will become part of the planned 40-mile Confluence Greenway, which runs from Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

"This acquisition is an important step in our efforts to enhance the Mississippi River Corridor," Ryan said. "A special thanks goes to the Buenger sisters, the property owners, who gifted to the state a portion of this land that has been in their family for generations."

Plans for the property include development of a natural area with wetland restoration and multi-use trails. The land was purchased with a portion of a multi-million dollar settlement obtained from Shell Oil Company's Wood River Refinery in 1998 as a result of an environmental lawsuit filed by the state and federal governments against the company.

Funds from the Shell Oil settlement also are being used to help fund the acquisition of more than 80 properties in the flood-prone subdivision of State Park Place in unincorporated St. Clair County and the demolition of buildings on those properties. The area was included in Presidential Disaster Declarations due to flooding four years in a row from 1993-1996. The county intends to manage the property for open space and recreational opportunities. Total cost for that project is $1.8 million.

We greatly appreciate the assistance received from, the U.S. Department of Justice, Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, Trailnet, Inc., and The Trust for Public Land with this project," Ryan added.

Attorney General Jim Ryan, who helped steer the Shell Oil settlement money to Illinois environmental projects, said "I feel strongly that a portion of the state's settlement with Shell Oil ought to go to return areas like this to the public's benefit. My office worked closely with the Department of Justice to make this happen."

"This acquisition is the first, of what we hope will be many, in securing property on the Island," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Brent Manning. "This property is ideal for trails and provides spectacular views of the Mississippi River at The Buenger Farm, located just south of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge between the Mississippi River and the Chain of Rocks Canal, was appraised at $212,200. The Shell Oil consent decree funded $155,000 of the cost. The Buenger sisters gifted a portion of the cost to the state. In addition, Trailnet, Inc., a land trust organization in the St. Louis area, and Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, also contributed to the acquisition.

The Buenger Farm has been in the family for generations and the four Buenger sisters --Wilma Woodring, Eileen Klueter, Dorothy Schanuel, and June Craig -- are delighted the property will be preserved for the public to enjoy it just as they did growing up on the island. Schanuel and her husband, Dale, lived on the property until a flood in 1973 destroyed their home.

The 188.63-acre Chouteau Island property will be part of the Confluence Greenway, a 40-mile riverside recreation and conservation area on both banks of the Mississippi, extending from the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis, Mo., to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Ill. The greenway will offer unprecedented access 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.

Trailnet and The Trust for Public Land are partners in the Confluence Greenway project along with Gateway Parks & Trails 2004, Grace Hill Neighborhood Services, Greenway Network, New Spirit and Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation and Development.

The $500,000 received from the Shell Oil consent decree was deposited with the Illinois Conservation Foundation, an IRS 501 ( c ) (3) organization, which has raised more than $7.8 million since its inception for conservation-related projects.


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