PEORIA — The Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area just added nearly 250 acres.

The area on the Illinois River just north of Peoria now spans over 3,000 acres as a result of a purchase of 247 acres from Ducks Unlimited to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

"One of the missions of the DNR is to expand our public lands in the Illinois River Valley," said Tony Colvin, site superintendent at the Woodford and Marshall State Fish & Wildlife Areas. "We look forward to managing this prime tract of property to benefit waterfowl and other wetland flora and fauna," he said.

Ducks Unlimited will reinvest the $885,000 from the land sale back into its Illinois River Valley conservation efforts. "Jenkins Marsh is one of the flagship projects of Ducks Unlimited's Big Rivers Initiative," said Michael Sertle, a regional biologist with Ducks Unlimited in Illinois, referring to the 247-acre tract to be restored over the next two years.

The Illinois River Valley is a major migratory spot for ducks and other species, said Ducks Unlimited spokesman Chris Sebastian.

Mark Schore, a longtime volunteer with the Ducks Unlimited Peoria chapter, is familiar with the Jenkins Marsh property. "We're working to create habitat that produces vegetation beneficial to ducks not just during fall migration but also the important spring migration as ducks head back north for breeding," he said.

The Woodford site is public land open to hiking, bird-watching as well as some hunting in designated areas.