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October 23, 2000

State Receives Land Donation In Marshall And Putnam Counties

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that the state has received a donation of 356 acres of land along the Illinois River in Marshall and Putnam Counties from the Richard King Mellon Foundation through The Conservation Fund.

"I want to thank the Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Conservation Fund for this generous donation to the people of the state of Illinois," Ryan said. "This property has tremendous potential for resource protection and recreational use."

The property is across the Illinois River from Henry, Illinois. It includes about 196 acres of woodland and another 160 acres of water and provides habitat for wetland wildlife. It includes Town Lake and a portion of Billsbach Lake, two smaller managed ponds of 9 and 12 acres, sloughs, high quality flood plain forest land and a large heron rookery.

Natural Resources Director Brent Manning said the property would be managed as part of Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area. Under terms of the donation, IDNR will take possession of the property on Jan. 1.

"This property will allow us to expand hunting and fishing opportunities," said Manning, noting that the property contains nearly 200 acres of wooded wetland used for deer hunting and is within one of the Department's small mouth bass management zones, because of its proximity to the mouth of the Big Sandy Creek.

Seward Prosser Mellon, president of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, said, "The Foundation's American Land Conservation Program, under which this acquisition has been made, reflects our Foundation's - and family's - traditional and continuing interest in land conservation. In these times of tight budgets, we feel that the private sector has an opportunity and an obligation to augment the conservation work of state and federal agencies. We are pleased that our program will help safeguard these wetlands and preserve important habitat for migratory waterfowl as well as increase outdoor recreation opportunities for the citizens of Illinois."

Established in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, PA, has a long-standing commitment to conservation. Since 1977 the Foundation has made major grants and gifts for conservation primarily in the areas of land acquisition, wetlands protection, and wildlife preservation.

The Conservation Fund provides technical assistance to the Foundation on identification, purchase and disposition of conservation land acquired under auspices of the American Land Conservation Program. During a little more than a decade, the Foundation has acquired land worth approximately $270 million for conservation and historic preservation.


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