Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

ILLINOIS OZARKS 

Trillium in bloom on the forest floor in the Illinois Ozarks RRA, photo by Mike Jeffords, INHS La Rue-Pine Hills is one of the richest and most biologically diverse areas in Illinois. The biological richness of this 2x5-mile strip of land has much to do with its unique topography of limestone bluffs that tower above a springfed swamp. Swamp, spring, cliff, forest, glade, cave, and hill prairie communities provide diverse habitat for a correspondingly diverse flora and fauna. Eastern, western, northern, and southern species are present in this area. Several rare species are found at La Rue-Pine Hills, including the golden mouse, eastern woodrat, Indiana bat, green water snake, blue-head shiner, banded pygmy sunfish, spotted sunfish, and bantam sunfish.

Map of Site
Land Cover Map of Site

SIZE: 466,755 acres; 729 square miles

LOCATION:Southwestern Illinois; Alexander, Jackson, Johnson, Randolph, Union, and Williamson counties.

The Illinois Ozarks RRA is one of the richest, most biologically diverse areas of the state. Many species found here are rare and limited in distribution to this area of the state. This RRA encompasses Mississippi River bottomlands, Ozark plateau, and unglaciated hill country. Originally much of the land was forested and considerable forest remains. The Illinois Ozarks RRA shares a common boundary with Cache River RRA; the large, contiguous forests along the boundary are split into the two RRAs.

Approximately 20 species of snakes are known from La Rue-Pine Hills. In the spring and fall, snakes migrate from their winter hibernation sites in the rocky bluffs. Many cross the road which separates the bluffs form the swamp, prompting closure of the road twice a year. Venomous copperheads, timber rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths, as well as several non-poisonous snakes, such as king and rat snakes, live in La Rue-Pine Hills.

One of the few remaining strongholds of the eastern woodrat in Illinois is La Rue-Pine Hills. This animal was at one time distributed across southern Illinois from the Ohio River to the Mississippi. The eastern woodrat is a true pack rat, collecting and storing nuts, acorns, pods, twigs, leaves, and other small items in their nests. The nests are added to by each successive owner.

LANDCOVER : The predominant landcover in this RRA is woods (42% upland and 10% bottomland woods). Twenty-eight percent of the site is cropland. The Illinois Ozarks is one of the few nonurban sites where cropland is not the predominant landcover. The second highest percentage of upland woods and the fourth highest percentage of bottomland woods occurs in this RRA. It has the fifth highest acreage of nonforested wetlands.

NATURAL AREAS : There are 59 Natural Areas covering a total of 17,010 acres, the fifth highest acreage among the RRAs. These sites include caves, geological features, aquatic systems, wetlands, woods, and prairies. La Rue-Pine Hills is the largest Natural Area (4,179 acres).

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS : Six BSS designations occur in this RRA for a total of 33 miles. These include four streams and two stretches of the Mississippi River. The streams are clear with sand, gravel, and rock substrates.

HERITAGE SITES : A large number of Heritage points (227) occur here. Thirteen community types, 38 plant species, and 30 animal species are located in this RRA. All eight community categories are represented. There are 17 occurrences of large forest tracts and three rookeries.

STATE AND FEDERAL LANDS : Twenty-one percent (99,934 acres) of the RRA is in public ownership. State land consists of one state park, one conservation area, one state forest, and one fish and wildlife area. Most of the acreage in public ownership is in Shawnee National Forest.

NATURE PRESERVES : Seven Nature Preserves are located in the RRA. Significant features are mature forests, cliffs, bedrock outcrops, swamps, and barrens.

NATURAL DIVISIONS : This RRA includes six natural divisions. The Lower Mississippi River Bottomalnds, Shawnee Hills, and Ozark Natural Divisions each comprise about one-third of the RRA.

 


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

 

Total Acreage

    466,755

Natural Areas

    Acreage

17,010

    Number

59
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 33.1
Natural Heritage Sites 227
State Land

    State Parks

1

    State Conservation Areas

1

    State Forests

1

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

1

    Acreage

18,668

    Percentage of RRA

4.0
Federal Land

    Acreage

81,266

    Percentage of RRA

17.4

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 195,997.50 41.99
Bottomland Forest 44,813.91 9.60
Wetland- nonforested 4,284.72 0.92
Grassland 60,963.49 13.06
Cropland 128,720.40 27.58
Urban-Built Up 3,885.91 0.83
Water 28,076.46 6.02
TOTAL 466,742.39 100.00

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Atwood Ridge 1,000
Backbone South Geological Area 5
Bake Oven--Backbone North Geological Area 7
Bald Knob Geological Area 31
Bald Knob Sedge Site *
Berryville Shale Glade 11
Black Cave 13
Black Powder Hollow Geological Area 4
Brown Barrens 11
Brown's Bar 687
Bumgard Island 1,894
Burnham Island 1,157
Castle Rock 2
Cave Spring Cave 243
Chester South Geological Area 5
Clear Creek 124
Clear Creek Swamp 102
Clear Springs Geological Area 13
Coles Mill Geological Area 2
Crab Orchard Bead Grass Site *
Crab Orchard Eagle Sites *
Crab Orchard Sedge Site *
Crain Geological Area 39
Devil's Den 90
Devil's Island *
Devil's Kitchen Dam Research Natural Area 195
Dongola Hollow Geological Area 5
Dutch Creek Chert Woodlands *
Fern Rocks 179
Fountain Bluff Geological Area 2
Fountain Bluff North 15
Fountain Bluff Site *
Gale Geological Area 1
Gale North Geological Area 1
Giant City State Park Geological Area 15
Guthrie Cave 109
La Rue-Pine Hills Research Natural Area 4,179
Little Grand Canyon -Cedar Creek 988
Lovets Pond 156
Lylerle Site *
Marys River Woods 52
McClure Shale Glade 10
Miller Creek 44
Mississippi River -Grand Tower 366
Mississippi River -Mudds Landing 2,925
Ozark Hill Prairies 464
Ozark Hills 215
Pine Hills Annex 6
Piney Creek Ravine 200
Reeds Creek Canyon East 39
Reeds Creek Canyon North 131
Reily Lake Area *
Rich's Cave System 89
Rockcastle Creek Area 76
Swayne Hollow 206
Thebes Area 886
Toothless Cave 13
Union County State Conservation Area *
Weaver's Woods 1
* = point location, map not available

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

    Miles

Dutch Creek 10.6
Miller Creek 5.8
Mississippi River, rm 114-119, Randolph Co. 3.7
Mississippi River, rm 78-83, Jackson Co 4.1
Orchard Creek 3.1
Sammons Creek 5.8

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES
Communities

    Occurrences

    Types/Species

    Floodplain Forest

1 1

    Lake

2 1

    Wetland

2 2

    Cave

11 2

    Forest

1 1

    Savanna

2 2

    Prairie

2 1

    Primary

5 3
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Bird

37 12

    Fish

14 7

    Mammal

33 7

    Reptile

14 3

    Crustacean

5 1
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Plant-Dicot

27 17

    Plant-Gymnosperm

2 1

    Plant-Monocot

26 17

    Plant-Fern/Fern Ally

7 3
Geological Feature

    Geological Feature

16 1
Other

    Forest Block >500 Acres

17 1

    Rookery

3 1

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND
State Parks

    Acres

    Giant City

4,580
State Conservation Areas

    Union County

6,504
State Forests

    Trail of Tears

5,232
State Fish and Wildlife Areas

    Turkey Bluffs

2,352
Federal Land

    Shawnee National Forest Proclamation Boundary

204,416

    Shawnee National Forest Ownership

81,266

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

Berryville Shale Glade 34
Brown Barrens 34
Fern Rocks 179
La Rue Swamp 136
Mcclure Shale Glade 53
Ozark Hills 215
Piney Creek Ravine 140

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    % of RRA

    % of Division

Lower Mississippi R Bottomlands 147,141 31.8 40.9
Shawnee Hills 144,501 31.2 15.9
Ozarks 141,298 30.5 34.8
Major Water Bodies 15,588 3.4 1.3
Coastal Plain 11,911 2.6 2.6
Southern Till Plain 2,193 0.5 0.0



Illinois Natural History Survey

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