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   Fults Hill Prairie and Kidd Lake Marsh State Natural Areas   

   
West-Central Region

c/o Randolph County SRA
4301 S. Lake Dr.
Chester, IL 62233
618.826.2706
E-mail
Fults Hill Prairie
Site Map Limestone Glade Seasonal Guide - Fults Hill Prairie
Forests Loess Hill Prairie Seasonal Guide - Kidd Lake
Hunting - Kidd Lake    
   


The 997-acre Fults Hill Prairie State Natural Area is owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Most of this unique natural area was purchased between 1970 and 1976. From the uplands of Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve to the lowlands of Kidd Lake Marsh State Natural Area, a variety of plants and animals can be found, some common and some found nowhere else in the state.

Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve consists of 532 acres of uplands and includes woodland, prairie and glade communities. It has the largest complex of high-quality loess hill prairies in Illinois. Prairies once were the dominant natural community in Illinois. The Illinois Nature Preserve system was established to give the highest level of protection to the state's few remaining high quality natural areas; this site was dedicated as a preserve in 1970. In 1986 it was recognized federally by the U.S. Department of Interior as a National Natural Landmark.

Kidd Lake Kidd Lake State Natural Area is an example of the once expansive wetlands of the Mississippi floodplain known as the American Bottoms. The marsh historically was part of an 800-acre lake bed, and once was home to a variety of wetland birds, some now rare in Illinois. It is an important rest stop for migrating waterfowl and continues to provide critical habitat to a diverse range of birds, as well as amphibians and reptiles.

Visitors are welcome, but please help protect the area by not disturbing or removing anything. All natural features are protected by law.

Seasonal Guide - Fults Hill Prairie

Spring

Spring woodland wildflowers in bloom from March to early May include bloodroot, spring beauty, bellwort, false Solomon's seal, toothwort, may apple, Dutchmans breeches, trout lily, wild geranium, wild columbine, phlox, violets, bluebells and Jjack-in-the pulpit.

Sighted during spring migration are Tennessee, Kentucky, blue-winged, yellow-winged, yellow-rumped, black-and-white, black-throated green, prairie, worm-eating warblers, American redstart, rose-breasted grosbeak and wood thrush.

Summer

Prairie wildflowers blooming in early summer include false boneset, blue hearts, pale purple coneflower, flowering spurge, prickly pear cactus, hairy petunia, rose verbana, butterfly milkweed, spiderwort, tickseed coreopsis and mountain mint.

Prairie plants blooming mid to late summer are big bluestem, little bluestem, side-oats gramma, Indian grass, sky blue aster, silky aster, partridge pea, white prairie clover, purple prairie clover, rough blazing star, goldenrod, pale purple coneflower, Missouri orange coneflower, rattlesnake master and flowering spurge.

Fall

For a spectacular fall color display from mid to late October take a drive down Bluff Road, taking time to look overhead at turkey vultures, often seen in groups of five or six. With a large wingspan and gliding with their wings in a "v" shape, these scavengers are easily recognized.

Also seen overhead from September trough November are migrating hawks such as red-tailed, broad-winged, Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks and osprey and northern harriers.

Winter

In winter months, take time to locate tracks of deer, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, squirrels and possibly coyote and fox in the snow.

From late January to mid-February you sometimes can see bald eagles, which have migrated south during the winter, soaring above. Views of eagles are especially inspiring from the bluff top.

Seasonal Guide - Kidd Lake

Spring

Listen for male frogs looking for mates in early spring make a lot of noise on warm humid nights. Occurring at Kidd Lake Marsh are the western chorus frog (sounds like running a finger along a comb), northern spring peeper (high-pitched, repetitive peep), American toad (high-pitch, extended trill), southern leopard frog (cackle-like call), and bullfrog (deep, mournful call "glu-ub, glu-ub").

Summer

Identifiable plants in the wetland are cattails, lotus, smartweeds, cordgrass, river bulrush, false aster and arrowleaf.

Scope out the wetland for birds such as great blue herons, little blue herons, great egrets, sora and coots.

Fall

When the fall migration starts, Kidd Lake Marsh wil hold flocks of Canada geese, snow geese, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, mallards, wood ducks and gadwall.

Winter

Those dome-shaped mounds dotting the marsh are muskrat houses. Aquatic mammals smaller than a beaver and having a rat-like tail are mostly vegetarian, but also eat clams, frogs and fish on occasion. Muskrat houses are made of wetland plants, and each is home to one family.

Loess Hill Prairie

A hill prairie is an opening on a forested slope, usually a south- or west-facing bluff. Loess is a term for the type of dry, well-drained soil found along many portions of the bluffs of the Mississippi River. This loess soil layer resulted from a fine silt that was blown up from the floodplain and deposited on the bluffs over hundreds of years.

Certain plants are adapted to the harsh, dry conditions of the loess hill prairies, creating unique communities at these sites. Grasses such as side-oats gramma, little bluestem, big bluestem and Indian grass dominate. Wildfires once helped maintain these open areas, preventing trees from taking over. DNR now manages hill prairies using controlled burns to mimic that historically natural process.

Limestone Glade

Open, prairie-like areas on more shallow soils with extensive limestone outcropping, are called limestone glades. Vegetation on glades is sparser and shorter than on a prairie. Dominant glade grasses are little bluestem and side-oats gramma. Common forbs include American aloe, purple prairie clover, false boneset and Missouri orange coneflower. Some of the characteristic glade plants are more typical of the Missouri Ozarks and are limited in Illinois to this preserve. The "Lost Glades" were not actively managed by fire and other brush control techniques until the early 1990s and have become dominated by trees.

Forests

The forests of this preserve are mostly on dry sites, with black oak, post oak and black hickory the dominant species. Forests of the ravines have more moisture and contain white oak, red oak, chinquapin oak, sugar maple and hickories. In dry upland areas, such as those surrounding the "Lost Glades" and loess hill prairies,savanna communities once existed. A savanna is an open woodland with a thin, scattered distribution of trees, primarily oak species, and a mixture of grasses. You can spot these areas by looking for oaks with large, spreading limbs that indicate they did not competewith other trees as they grew.

  • 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 conflicts.
  • 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 Economic Opportunity, 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.

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