The United States celebrated the designation of its 15th Ramsar site on 4 May 1996, the Cache River/Cypress Creek site in southern Illinois. Ramsar Secretary General Delmar Blasco and Technical Officer Dr Montserrat Carbonell joined Illinois officials and representatives of the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, and The Nature Conservancy as Governor Jim Edgar led the ceremonies, which were also planned to commemorate the Convention's 25th anniversary.
The 38,000 acre Cache River Wetlands is an extensive complex of swamps and bottomland hardwood forests which harbors a vast array of migratory waterfowl, wading birds, neotropical migrant songbirds, rare mammals, and ancient cypress trees. It was selected for Ramsar designation because of its critical waterfowl breeding habitat, its wintering and migratory waterfowl, and its shorebirds using the Mississippi flyway.
David Brunkhorst, Senior Vice President of Ducks Unlimited, said that wetland partnerships are the key to protecting this resource and others like it: "For the past several years, Ducks Unlimited has worked closely with the joint venture partners to acquire and subsequently enhance the Cache River Wetlands. We are very pleased to see our work recognized with the Ramsar listing..... Beyond the Ramsar joint venture partners, many people share our vision for the Cache River Basin, including landowners and private citizens."
"The continued loss of wetlands throughout the world poses a serious threat to both wildlife and people," said John Rogers, Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "When wetlands disappear, essential habitat for waterfowl and other species of animals and plants also disappear. For humans, wetland losses lead to declines in water quantity and quality. The Ramsar Convention well serves the world community by designating sites as wetlands of international importance and encouraging conservation of these irreplaceable ecosystems before it is too late."
Secretary General Blasco congratulated the United States on the listing of its 15th Ramsar site and noted the country's extremely important role in supporting the work of the Convention throughout the world, particularly in the western hemisphere. He expressed the hope that the Cache River designation would also encourage the Ramsar listing of more sites within the United States itself.