League members celebrated two big conservation victories in the Kankakee River watershed October 15-16, 2016.
On October 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) held a well-attended open house for the Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The League’s Illinois Division and Griffith, Miller, and Marquette Chapters as well as individual Ikes were among the major donors who helped Friends of the Kankakee purchase land that was donated to USFWS for this refuge. The refuge only includes land in Illinois at this point, but League members are still fighting to bring it to Indiana in the future. The refuge will protect and restore quality prairie and savanna habitat and the last of the unprotected “Momence Wetlands,” a surviving remnant of the Grand Kankakee Marsh.
On October 16, a dedication was held for the new Kankakee River National Water Trail from St. Joseph County, Indiana, to Wilmington, Illinois. The League’s Illinois and Indiana Divisions wrote letters to the National Park Service in support of the national water trail, as did several League chapters and many members.
The League’s Diana Chapter in Indiana was a partner in creating the documentary, “The Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh,” which is credited with paving the way for final approval of the refuge and the national water trail.
It was a great weekend for the League and conservation in the Kankakee River watershed!