RICE LAKE STATE FISH WILDLIFE AREA
Providing a stop over area for migrating waterfowl, Rice Lake and the surrounding areas provide an excellent opportunity for wildlife observation. Because of an extensive habitat management program, this backwater wetland area is used by thousands of ducks and geese as they move through central Illinois during the changing seasons. Visitors also may encounter one of several threatened or endangered plant and animal species such as the American bald eagle, which uses the bottomland timber for roosting. Fishing is a favorite pastime at the area with catches of largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, bullhead buffalo and carp. However, with seasonal fluctuations of the water levels, fishing may be limited during certain times of the year. Duck hunting and archery deer hunting also provide opportunities for the outdoor sportsman.
The initial purchase of land, which now makes up Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in Fulton County near the Illinois River, was in 1945. These original 2,370 acres were designated as a refuge for migratory waterfowl with a portion to serve the hunters who contributed largely toward its purchase. Camping facilities were added and in 1970 renovated. The Department of Conservation purchased two of the neighboring waterfowl clubs consisting of 2,952 acres to provide increased mid-migration habitat. This current 5,660-acre area includes Big Lake, Slim Lake, Goose Lake, Pond Lily Lake, Lock Pond and the Copperas Creek Management Unit. Because the area is subject to extensive flooding, water management projects have been established to provide water control. Each year the lake is drawn down and aerially seeded with high quality moist soil plants to provide food to attract waterfowl as the migrate.
If you have time for an overnight stay, tent and trailer camping areas are available. Thirty-two of the sites are graveled and have electricity hookups. Two are paved for handicapped access.