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updated: 8/9/2012 8:25 AM

Ill. River Wetlands gain international recognition

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Associated Press

LEWISTOWN -- Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is celebrating two restored Illinois River wetlands that have gained international recognition for their biodiversity.

Simon says the Dixon refuge and Emiquon Complex are international models of environmental restoration, supporting vulnerable plant and animals, and attracting environmental tourism. Both areas were officially designated Wetlands of International Importance earlier this year.

The 14,000 acre Emiquon Complex supports hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese and other water birds and pumped $1.1 million into the surrounding counties in 2009. The 2,700 acre Dixon Waterfowl Refuge supports 148 animal and plant species that are vulnerable to extinction in Illinois.

Paul Botts heads The Wetlands Initiative that manages Dixon Refuge, and he says that it's one of the most significant sites on the planet to support a diversity of life.

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