The Ten Mile Creek State
Fish and Wildlife Area is located in southeastern Jefferson County and
the western sections of Hamilton County. Access to the site can be gained
from rural roads leading from Illinois Route 142 and Illinois Route 14.
The site provides a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities which
include wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, target shooting, hunting and
The 5,820 acres comprising
Ten Mile Creek were purchased in 1988, and approximately one third of
the site was strip mined for coal. These areas, all within Jefferson County,
have been reclaimed to varying degrees resulting in some areas being returned
to flat agriculture land and others to steeply sloped areas with many
ponds and lakes. The remainder of the site, which was not mined, is a
mixture of fields and forest bisected by small streams.
The site is divided into
four management units, each consisting of a main area and smaller scattered
tracts. Of these, the Eads Unit (1,550 acres) is located southwest of
the town of Belle Rive, and over 80% of this unit has been mined, which
has left a steep and rugged terrain containing many spoil ridges. Vegetation
has been established to stabilize the soil and provide cover for wildlife.
Next, the Belle Rive Unit (1,460 acres) is located east of Belle Rive,
of which nearly 60% has been strip mined. However, reclamation efforts
have resulted in a more even terrain including seven lakes. In addition,
this unit is bisected by Auxier Creek, and the bottomland areas have not
Of the management units located
in Hamilton County, both contain similar terrain with a level to rolling
topography covered by a mixture of farm fields and forest. The Dahlgren
Unit (1,120 acres) lies south of the village of Dahlgren, and it is bisected
by the Big Creek watershed. This unit contains both upland and bottomland
forest with small ponds in various locations. The Goshen Trail Unit (1,690
acres) is located four miles west of McLeansboro and contains a portion
of the Ten Mile Creek watershed.
The composition of this site
includes the habitat types of cropland (2,600 acres), open non-cultivated
areas (1,640 acres), forest (1,330 acres), and water (250 acres). Portions
of the cropland are enrolled in a tenant lease program to provide wildlife
food and cover and to maintain the fields in an open condition. Crop rotations
include corn, soybeans, wheat, grass-legume seedlings, and one or more
years of idle to conserve the soil and allow wildlife nesting to occur.
The open, non-cultivated areas are mostly mined with succession occurring
to various degrees. Some locations are mainly grassland, while others
are being invaded by brush and trees.
The forested areas consist
of many small woodlots, forested corridors, and fencerows. The largest
wooded area is near 100 acres in size. The composition of species depends
on the location of the forest and includes various oaks, hickories, elm,
cherry, cottonwood, willow, ash, and other species. In addition, old field
and pasture areas contain such species as sassafras and persimmon.
Of the water areas, there
are 25 strip pit lakes from 3 to 45 acres in size located in the Eads
and Belle Rive Units which offer the opportunity for boating and fishing.
Depths of these lakes can reach over 30 feet. Furthermore, small farm
ponds are scattered over the Dahlgren and Goshen Trail Units to provide
wildlife water sources, soil erosion control, and fishing opportunitites.
Fishing is a popular use
of Ten Mile Creek SFWA. Access to the strip pit lakes is provided by five concrete boat ramps and additional gravel boat ramps and parking areas. The lakes contain populations of largemouth
bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. The site specific regulations for
this outdoor recreation include a two pole limit, a limit of three bass any size and
a six per day creel limit for channel catfish. In addition, a 10 horsepower
motor limit is in effect for boating. Fisheries management includes population
surveys and control measures, control of aquatic vegetation, and fish
stocking. The small ponds of the Dahlgren and Goshen Trail Units are stocked
with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, and channel catfish.
Another favorite activity
is wildlife viewing, especially on the portions that are designated as
Goose Refuge. These areas are closed to all access during the Canada Goose
hunting season to provide a place for migrating ducks and geese to rest
and feed. Management activities include the planting of various crops
as food sources and the construction of shallow water impoundments which
are managed to promote moist soil vegetation. During each fall and winter
tens of thousands of ducks and geese can be observed using the rest area.
Of the wildlife that inhabit
the site, the following species may be hunted in the appropriate season:
cottontail rabbit, bobwhite quail, mourning dove, geese, ducks, deer,
squirrel, turkey, and furbearers.
Special regulations apply to each species. In addition, a Quality Deer
Management program is conducted on the Belle Unit which restricts the
harvest to certain types of deer. All necessary information on regulations
is provided with the hunting permit. Trapping of furbearers through the
use of water sets is also allowed through a seperate permit. For more
Other recreation opportunities
exist at the Hand Trap Range (shotgun use only), Archery Range, and Rifle
Range, all of which are located in the Goshen Trail Unit. Use of the Rifle
Range requires an annual permit which includes the regulations and restrictions.
Equally important, a hiking trail, which menaders through an area of upland
forest, is located in the Goshen Trail Unit.
Ten Mile Creek State Fish
& Wildlife Area is located on IL Rt. 14 east of Benton, IL From I-57,
take exit #71 (Benton) and travel east on IL Rt. 14 a distance of 18 miles
to the site office located on the north side of the highway.
- While groups of 25 or
more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required
to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling
- At least one responsible
adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on
leashes at all times.
- Actions by nature can
result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park
office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your
stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.