Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

VERMILION RIVER 

Gravel bar in the Vermilion River RRA, photo by Mike Jeffords, INHS The clear, gravel-bottomed Middle Fork of the Vermillion River is a high quality stream which supports a rich diversity of aquatic species. Numerous species of fish, mussels, and other invertebrates occur in its boulder riffles, sand and gravel raceways, and clear pools. A segment of the Middle Fork is Illinois' only stream designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. Unusual terrestrial features of this area include seeps, beech-maple forests, and hill prairies.

 

Map of Site
Land Cover Map of Site

SIZE: 132,252 acres; 207 square miles

LOCATION:East-central Illinois bordering Indiana; Champaign, Ford, and Vermillion counties

The Vermilion River RRA is located on a level glacial plain originally covered with prairie vegetation with occasional savannas on the uplands and forests along the streams. This RRA is comprised of two nonadjoining watersheds. The upstream watershed, the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, is separated from the lower Vermilion River watershed by the city of Danville.

 

Notable among the abundant and diverse fish fauna of the Vermillion basin is the bluebreast darter. The breeding male has a colorful olive-green body with a bright blue breast, orange dorsal fins, and red spots along the sides. The blue-breast darter lives in fast riffles of large, clear streams. Adults are alomost always found near large boulders. Illinois is on the western edge of its range. The only known location of this species in Illinois is in the Vermillion River basin.

LANDCOVER: The site is 69% cropland and ranks fifth in percentage of cropland. Grassland accounts for 18% and woods for 9% of the area. This RRA ranks low in upland woods, bottomland woods, and nonforested wetlands percentages.

NATURAL AREAS: Fourteen sites cover nearly 2,000 acres of this RRA. Communities considered significant in the RRA include numerous seeps, prairies, savannas, forests, and aquatic systems. The beech-maple forests in this area are significant in the state because they represent the western edge of this community type in the U.S.

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS: This site ranks sixth in terms of the total miles of BSS streams. The lower 46 miles of the Middle Fork and 12 miles of the Vermilion River below Danville are recognized as high quality streams.

HERITAGE SITES: There are 44 Heritage sites within this RRA representing six significant communities, three plant species, 18 animal species, and a rookery.

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND: Kickapoo State Park and the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area are located in this RRA. There is no federal land within this site.

NATURE PRESERVES: Important natural features in the nine Nature Preserves within this RRA include seeps, savannas, prairies, and beech-maple forests.

NATURAL DIVISIONS: The Vermilion River RRA is approximately two-thirds Grand Prairie Division and one-third Wabash Border Division.

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

Total Acreage 132,252
Natural Areas

    Acreage

1,998

    Number

14
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 58.0
Natural Heritage Sites 44
State Land

    State Parks

1

    State Conservation Areas

0

    State Forests

0

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

1

    Acreage

5,944

    Percentage of RRA

4.5
Federal Land

    Acreage

0

    Percentage of RRA

0.0

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 8,639.28 7.77
Bottomland forest 1,891.27 1.70
Wetland- nonforested 321.74 0.29
Grassland 19,744.46 17.77
Cropland 77,140.77 69.41
Urban/Built-up 1,445.70 1.30
Water 1,947.67 1.75
TOTAL 111,130.89 99.99

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Fairchild Cemetery Prairie and Savanna 2
Forest Glen Seep 12
Harmattan Stripmine 3
Kennekuk Cove County Park 858
Kinney's Fork Seeps *
Middle Fork Seeps *
Middle Fork of the Vermilion River 558
Middlefork Woods 66
Orchid Hill 143
Prospect Cemetery Prairie 7
Russell M. Duffin Nature Preserve 193
Vermilion River 146
Willow Creek Seep 1
Windfall Prairie 10
* = point location, map not available

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

    Miles

Middle Fork Vermilion River 46.1
Salt Fork Vermilion R., Co line to Middle Fork 0.0
Vermilion River 11.9

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES
Communities

    Occurrences

    Types/Species

    Wetland

5 2

    Forest

1 1

    Savanna

1 1

    Prairie

2 2
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Amphibian

1 1

    Bird

17 10

    Fish

4 3

    Mammal

1 1

    Insect

1 1

    Mollusk

4 1
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Plant-Monocot

4 3
Geological Feature

    Geological Feature

2 1
Other

    Rookery

1 1

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND
State Parks

    Acres

    Kickapoo

2,269
State Conservation Areas 0
State Forests 0
State Fish and Wildlife Areas

    Middle Fork

3,675
Federal Land 0

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

Fairchild Cemetery Savanna 4
Forest Glen Seep 9
Horseshoe Bottom 38
Howard's Hollow Seep 29
Middle Fork Woods 61
Prospect Cemetery 7
Russell M. Duffin 191
Tomlinson Pioneer Cemetery Prairie 5
Windfall Prairie 35

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    %of RRA

    % of Division

Grand Prairie 82,463 62.8 0.6
Wabash Border 48,819 37.2 2.8


Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820
217-333-6880
cms@inhs.illinois.edu

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