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October 19, 2010

TREMPEALEAU - The floodplain forests along the Upper Mississippi River, including more than 130,000 acres in Wisconsin, are now officially recognized as a global treasure.

Their designation as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty aimed at protecting and promoting wetlands, was officially celebrated in a ceremony last week with international, state and local partners.

The designation itself has no effect on current river users, nor does it affect current jurisdictions or responsibilities of the federal, state and local governments that manage the river. But wildlife officials believe the international recognition can help secure additional federal attention and open the door wider to collaboration with international experts.

Perhaps the biggest impact will be to raise awareness in Wisconsin and elsewhere of the magnificent resource on the state's western border. "The designation is a recognition of just how critically important this is for a multitude of species," says Jeff Janvrin, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who has worked on habitat restoration projects along the river for more than 20 years. "It's also recognition of the hard work people have been putting in to protect the river over the many generations."

The complex series of forested backwater channels, marshes and islands in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa are home to more than 100 fish species and 42 mussels species. Mississippi River wetlands provide habitat to more than 300 birds and a flyway for 40 percent of the waterfowl in America. A slideshow featuring a sampling of these natural resources is found on the Wisconsin Wetlands page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Andersen (608) 785-9994; Jeff Janvrin (608) 785-9005

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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