Following on from two new Wetlands of International Importance announced two weeks ago for the United States, the Secretariat has added a third to the Ramsar List, effectively dated World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2012. As described by Assistant Advisor for the Americas Ms Nury Furlan, summarized from the Ramsar Information Sheet, the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes (1,117 hectares, 41°13'20"N 089°20'17"W) in the midwestern state of Illinois is a complex system of backwater lakes, marshes, wet prairie, savannah, and forest that has been restored to a landscape that closely resembles the presettlement conditions of the place, before the human impacts of the 20th century. The mix of rare wetland habitats integrated within the extensive natural landscape is unique in this region, where most remaining wetlands have been isolated and/or fragmented.
Due to the extent and quality of habitat, the site is home to federally endangered or threatened species such as the decurrent false aster (Boltonia decurrens), Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), and King Rail (Rallus elegans). The Refuge hosts 22 federally or state endangered and threatened birds, including the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), and Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps).
The Refuge has become a living laboratory where restoration techniques, successional dynamics, and adaptive management strategies can be tested and evaluated. The site offers excellent opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, wildlife photography, canoeing, and kayaking. Threats include invasive species, fires, and pesticide residues due to nearby agricultural activities. The Refuge is owned by nine non-profit entities and managed by one of them, the Wetlands Initiative, under agreement with the others. Ramsar Site no. 2042. Most recent RIS information: 2012.