Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

KANKAKEE - IROQUOIS 

Woodland flowers in the Kankakee-Iroquois RRA, photo by Mike Jeffords, INHS In the six miles from the Indiana border to Momence lie 1,800 acres of one of the largest wetland areas in Illinois, the Momence Wetlands. These are remnant of a vast 400,000-acre wetland that stretched from Momence to South Bend, Indiana. Presidents Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as European nobility, hunted in the marsh before it was drained in 1917. West of Momence, the Kankakee River is a scenic, recreational resource flowing on or near bedrock with numerous riffles, pools, and islands for much of its length.

 

Map of Site
Land Cover Map of Site

SIZE: 231,005 acres; 361 square miles

LOCATION: Northern part of east-central Illinois near the Indiana border; Iroquois, Kankakee, and Will counties

The Kankakee River RRA is relatively flat with low sandy ridges. Before the land was drained and cultivated, sand prairie and marsh were common; the area is now largely agricultural. Aquatic systems and savannas are important remaining natural resources of the area. The Kankakee River forms the core of the RRA and is unusual in Illinois because it is on or near bedrock.

One of the principal sand areas in Illinois is found in Kankakee and Iroquois counties. The area is the ancient bed of a large glacial lake. Dunes (some reaching almost 700 feet in height) and swales characterize the area. Sand savanna, sand prairie, and pin oak fkatwoods are some of the interesting communities found here. The sandy bottom streams support fish species, such as the ironcolor shiner and weed shiner, that are rare in Illinois. The Kankakee River has one of the most diverse and abundant mussel populations in the state.

LANDCOVER : Cropland covers 65% of this RRA, followed by grassland (19%) and urban/built-up (7%). The Kankakee-Iroquois RRA ranks low among the RRAs in percentage of upland and bottomland woods. Nonforested wetland acreage is moderate.

NATURAL AREAS : There are 17 Natural Areas in this RRA. Several are associated with the Kankakee River and account for the largest acreage. Many savannas occur in this RRA.

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS : This site ranks fifth in terms of total BSS stream mileage with 63 miles. Approximately half the mileage is the Kankakee River.

HERITAGE SITES Several significant community types are included in the 67 Heritage points located in this RRA. Fourteen significant community types, 17 plant species, and nine animal species are located here.

STATE AND FEDERAL LANDS : Kankakee River State Park and the Iroquois County Conservation Area are the state owned land in the RRA. There is no federal land in this site.

NATURE PRESERVES : Three Nature Preserves are located in this site. Large sand savanna with dune and swale topography, and upland and bottomland forest are significant natural features in the preserves.

NATURAL DIVISIONS : This site lies entirely within the Grand Prairie Natural Division.

 


 

SUMMARY OF SITE CHARACTERISTICS: SIZE, BIOLOGIC RESOURCES, AND PUBLIC LAND

Total Acreage

    231,005

Natural Areas

    Acreage

6,731

    Number

17
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 63.3
Natural Heritage Sites 67
State Land

    State Parks

1

    State Conservation Areas

1

    State Forests

0

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

0

    Acreage

6,415

    Percentage of RRA

2.8
Federal Land

    Acreage

0

    Percentage of RRA

0.0

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 12,558.11 5.44
Bottomland forest 3,603.51 1.56
Wetland- nonforested 1,986.61 0.86
Grassland 44,240.49 19.15
Cropland 149,688.50 64.80
Urban/Built-up 15,551.07 6.73
Water 3,383.74 1.46
TOTAL 231,012.03 100.00

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Bourbonnais Geological Area 12
Boy Scout Road Area 42
Guiding Star Savanna 406
Hooper Branch Savanna 783
Iroquois County Conservation Area 1,609
Kankakee River 2,115
Kankakee River Nature Preserve (Altorf Island) 65
Kankakee River Nature Preserve Addition 124
Kankakee River State Park Prairie 199
Leesville Savanna East 97
Leesville Savanna West 32
Little Beaver Creek 323
Mason Area <1
Momence Wetlands 94
Pembroke Savanna 755
Rock Creek Canyon 2
Stateline Savanna 72

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

    Miles

Baker Creek, Exline to Kankankee River 0.0
Beaver Creek 11.4
Kankankee River, Momence to Des Plaines Cons. Area 35.0
Little Beaver Cr., state line to SE of St. Anne 16.8
Trim Creek, Grant Park to Kankankee River 0.0

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES
Communities

    Occurrences

    Types/Species

    Floodplain Forest

1 1

    Lake

2 1

    Wetland

6 4

    Forest

1 1

    Savanna

12 2

    Prairie

5 5
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Bird

4 3

    Fish

10 4

    Mollusk

4 2
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Plant-Dicot

14 11

    Plant-Monocot

6 5

    Plant-Fern/Fern Ally

1 1
Geological Feature

    Geological Feature

1 1

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND
State Parks

    Acres

    Kankakee River

3,910
State Conservation Areas

    Iroquois County

2,505
State Forests 0
State Fish and Wildlife Areas 0
Federal Land 0

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

Hooper Branch Savanna 499
Kankakee River 119
Momence Wetlands 59

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    % of RRA

    % of Division

Grand Prairie 230,129 100.0 1.8



Illinois Natural History Survey

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Champaign, IL 61820
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