Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

SHAWNEE HILLS 

Waterfalls in the Shawnee Hills RRA, photo by Mike Jeffords, INHS Sandstone canyons are one of the outstanding features of the Shawnee Hills. Luxuriant vegetation grows in cool, humid ravines, which are shaded by dense forest canopy and high canyon walls. Sphagnum moss, ferns, and club mosses grow on the moist, sandstone cliff faces. Lusk Creek Canyon is a large gorge where a high-quality stream flows between vertical, sandstone cliffs that are 100 feet high in places. Several rare and unusaul plants are found here, including 13 species of wild orchids.

Map of Site

Land Cover Map of Site

SIZE: 477,112 acres; 745 square miles

LOCATION:Southeastern Illinois; Gallatin, Massac, Hardin, Johnson, Pope, Saline, and Williamson counties.

The Shawnee Hills RRA is a scenic wooded area in an unglaciated part of the state. An escarpment of sandstone runs east to west in this area. Bluffs, rugged hills, deep ravines, and clear streams support distinctive flora and fauna. This area was originally forested, and considerable amounts of forested land remain.

French's shooting star is a wildflower restricted to a 10-mile band across southern Illinois called the Shawneetown Ridge. The plant grows under the dripline of sanstone ledges, where the sandy soil stays moist during the growing season.

With more than one-quarter million acres, the Shawnee National Forest is the largest public land holding in Illinois. Located in the southern part of the state, it is bordered on the east and south by the Ohio River and on teh west by the Mississippi River. The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture manages Shawnee for multiple uses, including camping, hiking, timber harvest, mining, and grazing. Within the boundaries of the Shawnee are many high-quality natural areas and rich assemblages of species unique to Illinois.

LANDCOVER : Woodlands cover 58% of this RRA (54% upland woods and 4% bottomland woods). It ranks first in total acreage and percentage of upland woods. Grassland and cropland account for 24% and 16% of the area, respectively. This is one of the few nonurban RRAs where cropland is not the predominant landcover. Moderate amounts of bottomland woods and low amounts of nonforested wetlands are found at this site.

NATURAL AREAS : The Shawnee Hills RRA has the greatest number of Natural Areas (83) among the RRAs. Principal natural features include bluffs, springs, caves, aquatic systems, barrens, hill prairies, woods, hollows, and geological features.

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS : The highest total BSS mileage occurs in this RRA. Seventeen streams have been given BSS designation. Most are small, clear streams which run over sand, gravel, and rock substrates.

HERITAGE SITES : The Shawnee Hills RRA ranks third in number of Heritage occurrences with 255 sites. Ten community types, 49 plants species, and 25 animal species are located in the RRA. There are four large forest tracts and two rookeries.

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND : The Shawnee Hills RRA has the highest percentage of state and federal ownership of the RRAs. The total acreage of state and federal land is 138,877 acres, or 29% of the RRA, most of which is in the Shawnee National Forest. State land consists of two state parks and one conservation area.

NATURE PRESERVES : Lusk Creek Canyon, the only Nature Preserve in this site, is a large canyon with high sandstone cliffs and a high quality stream.

NATURAL DIVISIONS : The Shawnee Hills Natural Division is the predominant division in this RRA (82% of the RRA).

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

Total Acreage

    477,112

Natural Areas

    Acreage

8,638

    Number

83
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 125.9
Natural Heritage Sites 255
State Land

    State Parks

2

    State Conservation Areas

1

    State Forests

0

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

0

    Acreage

2,060

    Percentage of RRA

0.4
Federal Land

    Acreage

136,817

    Percentage of RRA

28.7

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 256,155.00 53.69
Bottomland forest 18,882.62 3.96
Wetland- nonforested 1,833.27 0.38
Grassland 114,612.20 24.02
Cropland 76,954.51 16.13
Urban/Built-up 2,415.12 0.51
Water 6,261.69 1.31
TOTAL 477,114.41 100.00

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Abbot Geological Area 9
Barker Bluff 125
Battery Rock *
Bell Smith Springs 546
Big Creek 395
Big Grand Pierre Creek Site *
Big Sink Limestone Glade 27
Brown's Hole Cave 7
Brownfield Bluff 4
Camp Ondessonk 459
Cane Creek Area 4
Caney Branch Glade 47
Cave Hill 305
Cave Spring Cave System 1,161
Chimaphila Site 1
Collier Limestone Glade 12
Copperous Branch Hill Prairie 23
Crow Knob Sandstone Barrens *
Double Branch Hole 5
Eagle Creek-robinette Creek 50
East Fork Oxalis Site 1
Flick Hill 17
Frailey's Landing Geological Area 7
Frieze Cave 26
Garden of the Gods 113
Gibbons Creek Barrens 21
Grantsburg Swamp 161
Griffith Cave 1
Gyp Williams Hollow 327
Haney Creek 134
Hayes Creek Sites 6
Herman Hill Site 303
Hicks Dome Plug Geological Area 11
Hicks Geological Area 10
Homberg Spring 1
Horseshoe Geological Area 3
Hosick Creek 42
Jackson Hole Barrens *
Jackson Hollow 268
Kaskaskia Woods 24
Keeling Hill 60
Lamb Site *
Layoff Cave 260
Leisure City Glade 9
Little Grand Pierre South Glade 4
Little Saline River 65  
Lusk Creek 446
Lusk Creek Canyon 346
Lusk Creek North 1
Manson Ford *
Martha's Woods Site 6
Melcher Hill Limestone Glade 8
Millstone Bluff 138
Old Stone Face -Dennison Hollow 411
Old Zion Cemetery Geological Area 6
Orr's Landing Geological Area 2
Panther Hollow 253
Peters Creek 61
Pine Hollow 417
Pleasant Valley Hill Prairie 7
Pounds Hollow 273
Quarrel Creek Area *
Reddick Hollow 5
Reddick Hollow Amphipod Site *
Reid's Chapel Sandstone Glades *
Robnett Creek Barrens *
Rock Creek 123
Rocky Branch Battle Ford Creek *
Russell Cemetery Glade 17
Saline Landing 5
Saline River Geological Area 1
Sand Cave 39
Simmons Creek -Hurricane Hollow Area 142
Simpson Township Prairie 72
Soward Limestone Glade 6
Split Rock Hollow 3
Sulphur Springs Area <1
Teal Pond <1
Trig Tower Sandstone Glades 206
Wamble Mountain 23
Werner Tract 66
Whoopie Cat Mountain 272
Wise Ridge 229
* = point location, map not available

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

    Miles

Big Creek drainage 31.6
Big Grand Pierre Creek, Rte 146 to Pinhook Cr 8.0
Burden Creek 2.1
Clifty Creek 3.7
Copperous Branch 2.0
Eagle Creek 10.7
Honey Creek 10.0
Hosick Creek 3.5
Little Saline River, Allen Branch to South Fork 8.0
Lusk Creek, Flick Branch to Little Lusk Creek 13.3
Ohio River, Elizabethtown to Cave-in-Rock 7.5
Peters Creek 8.3
Robinette Creek, Pounds Lake to Eagle Creek 3.7
Rock Creek 10.2
Three Springs Hollow 0.8
unnamed trib, Cedar Creek 1.5
unnamed trib, Wallace Branch, Cave Spring Cave 1.0

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES
Communities Occurrences

    Types/Species

    Cave

8 2

    Forest

9 3

    Savanna

4 2

    Primary

25 3
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Bird

16 9

    Fish

2 1

    Mammal

24 7

    Reptile

9 1

    Crustacean

23 6

    Insect

2 1
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Lichen

4 1

    Plant-Dicot

71 28

    Plant-Monocot

33 17

    Plant-Fern/Fern Ally

9 3
Geological Feature

    Geological Feature

10 1
Other

    Forest Block >500 Acres

4 1

    Rookery

2 1

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND
State Parks

    Acres

    Cave-In-Rock

204

    Dixon Springs

799
State Conservation Areas

    Saline County

1,057
State Forests 0
State Fish and Wildlife Areas 0
Federal Land

    Shawnee National Forest Proclamation Boundary

418,276

    Shawnee National Forest Ownership

136,817

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

Lusk Creek Canyon 129

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    % of RRA

    % of Division

Shawnee Hills 390,000 82.0 43.1
Wabash Border 45,371 9.5 2.5
Coastal Plain 39,415 8.3 8.5
Major Water Bodies 862 0.2 0.0
Southern Till Plain 76 0.0 0.0

 


 



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