Copperhead Hollow State Wildlife Area
Whip-poor-wil. Photo by Laura Gooch/Flickr
Warblers, wood thrushes and whip-poor-wills migrating through Illinois gained more room to stretch their wings, thanks to the efforts of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the National Wild Turkey Federation and a partnership between the natural gas pipeline project Rockies Express Pipeline (REX), The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The DNR purchased more than 210 acres of oak and hickory-woodlands adjacent to its Copperhead Hollow State Wildlife Area in western Jersey County, just three miles north of Pere Marquette State Park. The property had been a high priority for preservation and its purchase complements broader efforts to protect and restore forests along the bluffs of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers—a significant migration corridor for a variety of sensitive species.
The DNR and the NWTF’s Illinois State Super Fund provided half the funding for the acquisition. The remaining funds came from REX, through its mitigation fund. The REX project is a nearly 1,700-mile natural gas pipeline that stretches from Colorado to Ohio. Construction on the eastern portion of the project was recently completed in late 2009. Despite careful planning to minimize impacts, these construction projects cannot avoid all adverse impacts on vulnerable migratory bird habitat. To compensate for the loss of forestland and accelerate approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, REX voluntarily agreed to establish mitigation funds to be used to compensate for any impacts. The Conservation Fund manages these accounts and, with the oversight of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides grants to conservation projects that preserve habitat for vulnerable bird species.
“This is the first use of these mitigation funds in Illinois and an excellent model for how we can advance conservation and meet the growing energy needs of our country,” said Peg Kohring, Midwest director of The Conservation Fund.