Park of the month: Cache River State Natural Area

This month, we are featuring a unique conservation area in Illinois’ “Little Egypt” region called Cache River State Natural Area. The park exists to preserve unique wetlands that are home to a wide variety of protected flora and fauna.

The Cache River wetlands sit within a floodplain carved thousands of years ago by glacial floodwater from the Ohio River. Growing throughout the wetlands of the Cache River State Natural Area are large cypress trees, many of which are over 1,000 years old and more than 40 feet in diameter. The Cache River wetlands are home to Illinois’ state champion bald cypress tree, which is noted for its height, trunk girth and thick canopy of branches and leaves.

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eggWith nicer weather on its way, many museums and park districts are preparing for larger crowds. Kids in Illinois will be able to choose from a variety of different indoor and outdoor activities this coming spring.

At the SciTech Museum in Aurora, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore and learn about science. The museum is partnering up with the Aurora Green Fest to celebrate Earth Hour on March 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. This event gives families a chance to explore exhibits, participate in yoga, meditation, craft projects and more – all for free.

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GlessnerHouseexteriorNestled in the Near South Side of Chicago, the Prairie Avenue Historic District contains one of the American architectural gems of the 19th century.

The John J. Glessner House was designed in 1885 by architect Henry Hobson Robinson and served as inspiration for renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In October 1970, the site was named a historic landmark, and on Jan. 7, 1976, it became a National Historic Landmark.

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In honor of the shortest month of the year, February’s park of the month is William G. Stratton State Park in Morris. At only 618 acres, the spot on the Illinois River is the smallest in the state park system.

While it may be small, the Northeastern Illinois state park is enjoyed by many people each year. It was initially constructed in 1959 to give boaters and anglers access to the Illinois River near Morris. While February generally feels more like winter than spring in Illinois, the park is also a great destination for warm-weather recreation.

The relatively small size and recent establishment of William G. Stratton State Park does not decrease its popularity. The park includes a large parking lot that can fit over 100 vehicles with boat trailers. Boaters have access to four public launching ramps for fishing, water-skiing or simply passing an afternoon on the water. There is also a jet ski launching area on the east side of the park. On shore, there are picnic facilities along the banks of the river as well as restrooms and access to drinking water.

During the summer and fall, Stratton State Park is a popular staging location for fishing and waterfowl hunting on the Illinois River. The area is heavily populated with ducks and geese and the river teems with sauger, striper, bass and crappie.

The park is bounded on the north by the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail, making it accessible to hikers, bicyclists, runners and snowmobilers via the 61-mile limestone path. Because it is a launching area for motorized watercraft, swimming and wading are prohibited in the area of the Illinois River adjacent to William G. Stratton State Park.

Small but with plenty to offer fishermen, hunters, boaters, jet skiers and water skiers in Northeastern Illinois, William G. Stratton State Park will soon be crowded with people enjoying the Illinois River. Call 815-942-0796 for more information to plan your excursion today.

Abraham Lincoln O 77 matte collodion printAbraham Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. He came to be the 16th president of the United States and is regarded for his preservation of the Union during the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves.

Before becoming president, Lincoln worked to support his family, which limited his ability to go to school. After settling in New Salem, Illinois, Lincoln worked as both a shopkeeper and postmaster while teaching himself law. He passed the bar examination in 1836 and moved to Springfield to begin his career as a lawyer and later a politician.

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