Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon recognized two wetlands along the Illinois River for their importance to conservation.
The Emiquon Complex near Lewistown and the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge near Hennepin received the Ramsar designation this year. The honor highlights efforts to restore both sites to their natural states.
Before a ceremony at Dickson Mounds Museum, Simon said the international designation can help boost tourism for the region.
"This is something worth coming to. This is worth going out of your way," Simon said. "Don't just fly into O'Hare. Fly there, rent the car, drive down. This is worth the trip for people internationally and its certainly worth the trip for those of us who are lucky enough to live in Illinois."
The designation can also help secure more funding for wetland restoration.
Both sites had to meet at least one of nine criteria to receive the designation. They include supporting a specific number of water birds and other plants and animal species.
More than 2,000 sites have received the Ramsar designation worldwide, including 34 in the US.
Thanks to Illinois Public Radio