2020 marked 20 years of restoration at Emiquon! Learn more in our Storymap.
Please note: Lake access permits and liability waivers for The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve are required starting May 1, 2021. They are available at Dickson Mounds Museum, 10956 N. Dickson Mounds Rd, Lewistown, IL 61542. For up-to-date museum information, please call 309-547-3721 or visit their website. Additionally, Other Power Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs) are not allowed except for specific waterfowl hunting opportunities.
Why You Should Visit
At more than 6,000 acres, Emiquon is one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the Midwest. It is the premier demonstration site for The Nature Conservancy’s work on the Illinois River and within the Upper Mississippi River system and ultimately will help guide large floodplain river restoration efforts around the world. As part of the restoration process, TNC installed a ground-breaking water management structure that reconnects the floodplain to the Illinois River for the benefit of both people and nature. (Read our FAQs about the water management project.) The site has been designated a wetland of international importance by Ramsar. Wetlands are key to fighting and adapting to climate change, yet only 10% of historic wetlands remain in Illinois.
Emiquon once was the jewel of the Illinois River, nurturing diverse and abundant communities of native plants and animals in the complex system of backwater wetlands and lakes. From the hundreds of nearby archeological sites, including Native American villages and ceremonial and burial mounds, to the acres of modern fields of corn and soybeans, this land is a quiet testimony to the abundant natural resources that supported more than 600 generations of civilization in this area.
Additionally, Emiquon offers a wide range of recreational activities, from birding and paddling to hunting and fishing.
Why TNC Selected This Site
In the early 1900s, the Illinois River was one of North America’s most ecologically and economically significant river systems. It supported the most productive inland commercial fishery and highest mussel abundance per mile of any stream on the continent. Even though it has undergone significant land conversion during the past century, the river was identified as one of three large-floodplain river ecosystem restoration priorities in the United States by the National Research Council.
By virtue of its size, optimal location and biological legacy, Emiquon significantly advances TNC’s efforts toward conservation of the Illinois River.
Archaeologists consider Emiquon—with more than 149 documented archaeological sites—and the lands around it one of the richest places for discovered Native American sites in the country. It is a place of mystery and legend with strong connections to the past.
For questions, call our office at 309-547-2730. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Our address is 11304 N. Prairie Road, Lewistown, IL 61542.