Midwest Region


Ramsar Convention Grows in the Midwest

August 9, 2012

Midwest Region Chief of National Wildlife Refuges Rick Schultz, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon and Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley were among the dignitaries on hand to mark the designation of Emiquon Complex as a Wetland of International Importance. USFWS photo.

Yesterday, Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Complex celebrated its inclusion in the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance. Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley joined staff from Chautauqua and Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge and partners from The Nature Conservancy and The Wetlands Initiative to mark the occasion.

Chautauqua and Emiquon National Wildlife Refuges, collectively known as the Emiquon Complex, include approximately 14,000 acres of conservation lands along the Illinois River in Mason and Fulton Counties of Illinois. The Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges manage 5,294 acres of this Complex within Chautauqua and Emiquon National Wildlife Refuges. Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge is currently part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area.

Deputy Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley, was pleased to welcome the fifth Ramsar designation to the Midwest Region and noted that international recognition such as this is an honor not only for today, but for future generations.

Wooley remarked, “It is amazing to see nature’s resilience across this landscape. Knowing that Emiquon Complex and Dixon Refuge were once drained, converted lands - it is heartening to see native fish and wildlife reclaim these lands and waters.”

The Emiquon Complex sustains a diversity and abundance of terrestrial and aquatic animals, both resident and migratory. More than 200 native bird species have been documented in recent years, and the Complex has held over 75 percent of certain migrating water bird species in the Illinois River Valley. The area is culturally rich with 12,000 years of human history. Through public recreation and education, the Complex will continue helping people interact with, understand, and appreciate nature. Designation under the Ramsar Convention will promote greater public awareness, thereby fostering stronger community connections to these and other natural resources and helping build constituency for conservation.

The Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, managed by The Wetlands Initiative, has also been named a Wetland of International Importance and celebrated their inclusion in the Ramsar Convention today through this dual-location, simulcast event.


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Last updated: June 15, 2016