There's more to life in Southern Illinois.

Cache River Nature Fest 

Mother Nature is calling you home.

If you are traveling from out of the area to attend this event, you can take advantage of the many unique lodging opportunities in southern Illinois. Bed and Breakfasts abound, and there are many natural areas that offer rustic or relaxed camping experiences. A good place to start is the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau website. There, you will find links to many of the resources available in the area. If you need more help, you may contact them or any of the other event coordinators listed on the contacts and e-mail page.

Henry N. Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center

Cache River Nature Fest 2015 will take place out of the Cache River Wetlands Center. The 7,000 square-foot interpretive center, owned and operated by the Illinois DNR, and is supported by the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy. Here, visitors may acquire information on agency partners, recreation opportunities, and habitat restoration projects currently underway. The center provides visitors with a wealth of information about the value of wetlands, the area's cultural and natural history and unique sites to explore. The facility includes a 2000 square foot exhibit area, a 725 square foot audio visual room and wildlife viewing area overlooking a wetland. Visitors are invited to learn about the history of the watershed along an impressive timeline in the exhibits. The timeline is full of fascinating local artifacts, has a video screen with five perspectives of the Cache River watershed, and audio sticks sharing local oral history. A twelve minute orientation film gives a wonderful overview and introduction of the watershed, explaining the unique bio-diversity of the flora and fauna that can be experienced here. Visitors can also acquaint themselves with the area by exploring an interactive diorama of a bald cypress-water tupelo swamp, two interactive touch screens featuring images of the Cache River watershed and migratory birds, area State champion tree information and changing landscape displays. The center also provides programs and activities to the general public throughout the year, emphasizing this historically rich and biologically diverse region of southern Illinois. Located south of White Hill on Illinois Route 37, the center is named for Henry N. Barkhausen, an industrialist and avid outdoorsman, who served as director of the Illinois Department of Conservation from 1970-73. He also served as a board member on a local citizens' committee to promote restoration and protection of the Cache River area.

Illinois' Bayou - Cache River Wetlands

Making up only 1.5% of the land area in Illinois, the Cache basin harbors 11.5% of the State's high quality floodplain forests, 23% of its remaining high quality barrens habitat, and 91% of the State's high quality swamp/wetland communities. The area shelters 100 state threatened or endangered species and seven federally threatened or endangered species. The Cache River Wetlands are home to some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River, includes three National Natural Landmarks, and has been designated a "Wetlands of International Importance", putting it in the same ecological league as Okefenokee Swamp and the Everglades.

 

The area is managed and protected by a unique public-private partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Ducks Unlimited. This partnership, known as the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture, has a broad vision of restoring the integrity of the Cache River system establishing a goal to restore over 60,000 acres along the Cache River and its major tributaries. The partnership along with other resource agencies, organizations and citizens are working to restore the Cache River to a level of structure and function that would ensure a self-sustaining river-floodplain system.

Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge one of over 500 Refuges across the country that provides valuable habitat for a diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species. The Refuge includes 16,000 acres along the Lower Cache River protecting remnants of bald cypress-water tupelo swamps, oak barrens, and vast stands of bottomland hardwood forests. The refuge is important resting, nesting, and feeding habitat for waterfowl and a diversity of other migratory and wading birds. Other resident wildlife include deer, squirrels, foxes, mink, as well as, bobcats, river otters, and a host of frogs and toads, turtles and snakes. With such diversity the Refuge provides many opportunities to watch wildlife, hunt, fish, canoe, and hike. The Refuge office is located at 137 Rustic Campus Drive, on the campus of Shawnee Community College (nine miles east of Ullin, Il.) where additional site information is available. Contact (618)-634-2231 or visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/cypress_creek/.

Cache River State Natural Area - Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Cache River State Natural Area is situated on the Upper and Lower Cache River within a floodplain carved long ago by glacial floodwaters of the Ohio River. The area includes over 15,000 acres composed of three management units: Little Black Slough, Lower Cache River Swamps, and Glass Hill. Among the outstanding natural features found within this area are massive bald cypress trees aged between 700 and 1,000 years old, shadowy bottomland forests, undisturbed mature upland forests, and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps rich with life. The Cache River SNA provides food, water, and cover for an incredible number of plants and animals, more than 100 of which are listed as State and seven which are listed as Federally threatened or endangered species. Viewing platforms, boardwalks and over 20 miles of trails provide many opportunities to experience the Cache. Additional information can be obtained from the SNA Henry N. Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center at (618) 657-2064 or the SNA headquarters office at (618)-634-9678 or visit http://www.dnr.illinois.gov.

Grassy Slough Preserve - The Nature Conservancy

Grassy Slough Preserve sits where the lower section of the Cache River begins near the village of Belknap. The site covers 3,000 acres and historically consisted of forested wetlands. Today efforts are underway to restore the area to a mosaic of swamps, marshes, canebrakes, and bottomland hardwood forests. The area includes 500 acres of restored wetlands which attract a myriad of birds including migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, bald eagles, herons, and egrets. The Jean Farwell Memorial Viewing Area overlooks the site and provides opportunities to observe a diversity of wildlife.