Conservation News

Conservation champions Diane and Doug Oberhelman selected for Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Nov. 18, 2019 – The Illinois Conservation Foundation has selected Diane and Doug Oberhelman, longtime Ducks Unlimited supporters and passionate conservationists, for induction into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame selection committee chose the Oberhelmans for their exemplary service and commitments to improving conservation efforts and outdoor recreation opportunities in Illinois.

The Oberhelmans are Ducks Unlimited Diamond Legacy Sponsors. Diane has served as an at-large member of the Ducks Unlimited Board, and Doug serves as vice-chairman of the Wetlands America Trust Board, which oversees expansive land holdings targeted to wetland and waterfowl conservation and holds easements on hundreds of thousands of acres of additional wildlife habitat. The couple played a leadership role in the Ducks Unlimited Rescue our Wetlands international campaign, which raised $2.34 billion for wetlands conservation.

“As a couple, they have an unsurpassed passion for ensuring healthy outdoors and wild spaces are available for generations to come,” said Adam Putnam, Ducks Unlimited CEO. “The Oberhelmans are certainly deserving of this recognition in the state they love so much and have earned their place in the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.”

The formal induction of Diane and Doug Oberhelman will occur during a ceremony at the annual Illinois Conservation Foundation Gala on April 30, 2020, at the Union League Club in Chicago.

Diane Oberhelman is the founder and Chairman of Cullinan Properties, Ltd., a Peoria-based real estate and development firm. Doug Oberhelman is the retired Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., the Illinois-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.

“While Diane and Doug may be more well known for their Hall of Fame careers in business, the Oberhelmans have long advocated for wetlands protection, wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement, and preserving our natural landscapes for future generations to enjoy,” said Colleen Callahan, chair, Illinois Conservation Foundation Board of Directors and director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “We are delighted and honored to recognize them for the work they have done and continue to do in natural resources stewardship by selecting them for induction into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.”

The Oberhelmans practice what they support. In their home state of Illinois, the couple acquired 1,200 acres of reclaimed coal mine property in the mid-1990s and began extensive restoration work. The property, Quail Lakes, now features wildlife and native plants and is a great example of a public-private partnership in development planning and restoration.

Diane, Doug, and their friend and outdoor columnist Jeff Lampe have co-authored a book about the effort. “Quail Lakes & Coal: Energy for Wildlife… And the World” chronicles the history of Quail Lakes from wilderness and early Native Americans, through the pioneers and settlers, to the creation of the surface mine, and finally its restoration. Today, Quail Lakes is home to endangered bird species and hundreds of other wild creatures.

For more information on the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame and the ICF Gala on April 30, 2020, check the ICF website at www.ilcf.org.

The Illinois Conservation Foundation is an IRS 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation established in 1995 to support the programs of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Since 2002, the ICF has recognized Illinoisans for their significant contributions and unparalleled dedication in preserving, promoting, enhancing or supporting natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities with induction into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14.5 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.

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