45 Acres on Chouteau Isl. Added to Greenway (MO)

St. Louis, MO, 11/11/04 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Confluence Greenway collaboration continued their ongoing efforts to create a regional greenway along the Mississippi River Corridor with Tuesday’s purchase of an additional 45 acres on Chouteau Island.

“We are very pleased to help IDNR acquire land on Chouteau Island through another voluntary landowner transaction,” said Larry Levin, TPL’s St. Louis Office Director. “Chouteau Island is a major element of the Confluence Greenway and provides a tremendous recreational opportunity.” The Confluence Greenway is a 200 square mile corridor of parks, trails and heritage projects along the Mississippi River in the heart of the St. Louis bi-state region.

TPL, IDNR and TPL’s Confluence Greenway partner, Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation Development, Inc. (SWIRCD) have worked together to protect about 2,000 acres of land on Chouteau Island, a 5,500-acre landmass just south of the nationally significant confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The efforts of numerous nonprofits and local, state and federal agencies have led to about two thirds of the island being protected for public use since 2001.

The Chouteau Island Master Plan, funded in large part by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and prepared by numerous agencies and nonprofits with substantial public input, provides the framework for extensive habitat restoration and a variety of recreational uses and for those portions of the island that become publicly protected.

“This has been a good positive effort by everyone involved to protect our natural resources and provide recreational opportunities for the citizens of Illinois,” says Tom Flattery, IDNR’s Director of Realty and Environmental Planning. “This is just another piece of the puzzle in continuing the effort to achieve the overall goals of the Chouteau Island Master Plan.”

This closing represents the third on which IDNR and TPL have collaborated on Chouteau Island. In 2000, IDNR purchased 188 acres using the same consent decree funding as was used for this week’s acquisition. In 2001, over 2,000 acres were purchased with a combination of state, foundation and other funding. With the most recent acquisition, IDNR now owns 2,240 acres on the island.

With the acquisitions on Chouteau Island and other lands protected by TPL and agency partners, the Confluence Greenway corridor now includes more than 9,000 acres of public lands in both Illinois and Missouri.

“This corridor of thousands of acres of public lands so close to a major metropolitan downtown area is unique,” said Levin. “Chouteau Island’s southern tip is just a couple of miles from the St. Louis Gateway Arch. We are truly fortunate to have agencies on both sides of the Mississippi River that are so supportive of the development of this recreation and heritage corridor for the residents of the greater St. Louis community.”

The Confluence Greenway collaboration, which includes TPL, SWIRCD, Grace Hill Neighborhood Services, Greenway Network and Trailnet, along with a large number of public agencies including IDNR, works to achieve the many projects within the Confluence corridor. To date, more than $70 million has been spent or committed by many agencies and nonprofits in furtherance of the $200 million river corridor project.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL has protected more than 1.9 million acres across the country. TPL has been instrumental in developing conservation financing for the Confluence Greenway and acquiring critical lands within the corridor. To learn more, visit www.tpl.org.