Why You Should Visit
Throughout the Cache River Wetlands, in what is now more than 45,000 acres of protected land, cypress and tupelo swamps can be found, seeming to belong more to Louisiana than Illinois. Cypress trees that are more than a thousand years old raise their gnarled branches above the black waters here. The lower stretch of the river spreads out over the flat terrain of extreme southern Illinois and creates what early surveyors to the region described as "a drowned land."
Because of their rich biological variety, the wetlands of the Cache River have been designated a "Wetland of International Importance." This designation from the Ramsar Convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ranks the Cache River Wetlands with other important wetlands, such as the Florida Everglades.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The thick, lush vegetation of the hardwood forests and swamps in the Cache watershed were once home to many large mammal species that are no longer found in the region. Forest loss in the watershed due to logging and agriculture, especially along the lower stretch of the Cache, has been extensive.
Efforts to dry out the region have resulted in modifications to the Cache that have severely affected its natural flow. This has degraded the river and associated cypress and shrub swamps. Water quality of the river has suffered greatly, due in part to soil erosion from cleared land in the watershed. Up to 150 tons of soil per acre is washed into the river and wetlands each year.