TEN MILE CREEK STATE FISH WILDLIFE AREA
The Ten Mile Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is located in southeastern Jefferson County and the western sections of Hamilton County. Access to the site can be gained from rural roads leading from Illinois Route 142 and Illinois Route 14. The site provides a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities which include wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, target shooting, hunting and trapping.
The composition of this site includes the habitat types of cropland (2,600 acres), open non-cultivated areas (1,640 acres), forest (1,330 acres), and water (250 acres). Portions of the cropland are enrolled in a tenant lease program to provide wildlife food and cover and to maintain the fields in an open condition. Crop rotations include corn, soybeans, wheat, grass-legume seedlings, and one or more years of idle to conserve the soil and allow wildlife nesting to occur. The open, non-cultivated areas are mostly mined with succession occurring to various degrees. Some locations are mainly grassland, while others are being invaded by brush and trees.
The forested areas consist of many small woodlots, forested corridors, and fencerows. The largest wooded area is near 100 acres in size. The composition of species depends on the location of the forest and includes various oaks, hickories, elm, cherry, cottonwood, willow, ash, and other species. In addition, old field and pasture areas contain such species as sassafras and persimmon.
Of the water areas, there are 25 strip pit lakes from 3 to 45 acres in size located in the Eads and Belle Rive Units which offer the opportunity for boating and fishing. Depths of these lakes can reach over 30 feet. Furthermore, small farm ponds are scattered over the Dahlgren and Goshen Trail Units to provide wildlife water sources, soil erosion control, and fishing opportunitites.
Another favorite activity is wildlife viewing, especially on the portions that are designated as Goose Refuge. These areas are closed to all access during the Canada Goose hunting season to provide a place for migrating ducks and geese to rest and feed. Management activities include the planting of various crops as food sources and the construction of shallow water impoundments which are managed to promote moist soil vegetation. During each fall and winter tens of thousands of ducks and geese can be observed using the rest area.
Of the wildlife that inhabit the site, the following species may be hunted in the appropriate season: cottontail rabbit, bobwhite quail, mourning dove, geese, ducks, deer, squirrel, turkey, and furbearers.
The 5,820 acres comprising Ten Mile Creek were purchased in 1988, and approximately one third of the site was strip mined for coal. These areas, all within Jefferson County, have been reclaimed to varying degrees resulting in some areas being returned to flat agriculture land and others to steeply sloped areas with many ponds and lakes. The remainder of the site, which was not mined, is a mixture of fields and forest bisected by small streams.
The site is divided into four management units, each consisting of a main area and smaller scattered tracts. Of these, the Eads Unit (1,550 acres) is located southwest of the town of Belle Rive, and over 80% of this unit has been mined, which has left a steep and rugged terrain containing many spoil ridges. Vegetation has been established to stabilize the soil and provide cover for wildlife. Next, the Belle Rive Unit (1,460 acres) is located east of Belle Rive, of which nearly 60% has been strip mined. However, reclamation efforts have resulted in a more even terrain including seven lakes. In addition, this unit is bisected by Auxier Creek, and the bottomland areas have not been mined.
Of the management units located in Hamilton County, both contain similar terrain with a level to rolling topography covered by a mixture of farm fields and forest. The Dahlgren Unit (1,120 acres) lies south of the village of Dahlgren, and it is bisected by the Big Creek watershed. This unit contains both upland and bottomland forest with small ponds in various locations. The Goshen Trail Unit (1,690 acres) is located four miles west of McLeansboro and contains a portion of the Ten Mile Creek watershed.