Skip to Main Content

Breadcrumb

  1. Governor
  2. Save Our Eagles
  3. Plum Island Campaign

Plum Island Campaign 

(A 55-acre island located in the middle of the Illinois River just 85 miles from Chicago's Loop and downstream from Ottawa, Plum Island is an uninhabited, pristine site that can be viewed from atop Starved Rock.)

1100 A.D. - Earliest known evidence of human settlement in Plum Island region.

1500-1700 - The Kaskaskia - members of the Illiniwek Confederacy - reside in a village on the north bank across from Plum Island, which is used for farming and as a burial ground.

1683 - early 1700's - French build and occupy Fort St. Louis at Starved Rock.

1760's - Ottawa Chief Pontiac murdered by Illiniwek at a tribal council. To avenge his death - according to legend - Ottawa and Pottawatomi warriors surround a band of Illiniwek who starve to death atop Starved Rock.

June-September, 1930 - University of Illinois archeologists and students under A.R. Kelly conduct first-known excavation of a limited number of selected sites on Plum Island. They discover at least eight different ancient burial sites, as well as unburied skeletal remains indicating the possible massacre of inhabitants of an Illiniwek settlement. They also find more than 7,300 ceramic, bone and ground stone objects, and corn storage systems.

November 15, 1938 - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wins permanent easement rights on Plum Island.

September 21, 2000 - "Starved Rock Island LLC" based in Orland Park, Illinois, purchases 45 of Plum Island's 52 acres.

April, 2000 - Friends of Plum Island submit a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to then-Gov. George Ryan.

January, 2001 - At least 83 eagles are spotted on Plum Island during Eagle Watch Week.

January, 2001 - Developer Don Barclay announces plans for an upscale 250-room hotel on Plum Island, complete with a 60-slip marina and five-star restaurant.

March 26, 2001 - Developers informed by Illinois Department of Natural Resources that it opposes construction of a bridge from Starved Rock State Park to Plum Island because a bridge structure "…takes the heart out of one of the major day use areas of the park."

April 25, 2001 - Friends of Plum Island and others attend a town hall meeting to urge Cong. Jerry Weller and other public officials to designate Plum Island as an eagle habitat.

September 24, 2001 - Sen. Pat Welch voices his opposition to the developers' plan based on the disruption of the natural habitat and potential obstruction of barge traffic.

February 28, 2002 - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejects developers' plans to find alternate sites for dredging material placement and notes "…most of the island is subject to inundation by flows in the Illinois River."

March 24, 2002 - Prayer vigil for Plum Island organized by SOARRING ("Save Our Ancestors' Remains & Resources Indigenous Network Group") attracts hundreds of Native American activists and eagle-lovers.

January 25-26, 2003 - Thousands of tourists visit the area for Bald Eagle Days in Utica and Bald Eagle Watch Weekend in Ottawa. From January through March, LaSalle County businesses gross at least $1.8 million from eagle-watching.

Spring, 2003 - Developers continue to advertise sale of "prestigious lots" on Plum Island with lots ranges from $125,000 to $210,000, and "luxury log cabins" featuring 3 bedrooms and fireplaces, ranging from $88,335 to $110,540. Full water and sewer access is promised. And while promoting "…the tranquility of nature", the developers also tout nearby jet-ski rentals.

June 18, 2003 - U. S. Army Corps of Engineers reiterates its easement rights to developers.

June 24, 2003 - A spokesman for the developer claims, "Less than 10 percent of the island will have coverage." However, Starved Rock Island LLC's own marketing materials show at least half of the island will be developed, not to mention infrastructure such as sidewalks and sewage treatment.

June 25, 2003 - Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn - Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council - urges developers to halt promotions of real estate on Plum Island due to several concerns, including damage to eagle and fish habitats, disrespect of ancient burial grounds, potential for flooding, lack of access from either shore, interference with barge traffic and public safety.

June 26, 2003 - Illinois Department of Natural Resources reminds developers that they have not yet received proper permits to dredge a marina, destroy eagle roosts, disturb burial sites or enjoy access to State-owned property for "…ingress or egress or for utility right-of-ways."

June 27, 2003 - Developers tell Associated Press, "(Our) eagle study shows they're only there for three weeks a year." He later corrects himself, saying, "The eagles are out there in December, January and February…the disruption is truly minimal." According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, however, the eagles begin arriving every October and stay through mid-March.

June 28, 2003 - Developers host a two-day open house for prospective buyers of "spectacular" lots at Starved Rock Marina Estates, and accept down payments from several buyers, despite having no assurances that any permits will be issued for construction.

July 6, 2003 - Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn launches "online petition drive" to protect Illinois eagle habitats, especially those on Plum Island.

March 28, 2004 - Victory rally to celebrate the saving of Plum Island.