The Nature Conservancy

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If you had visited the site of The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Wetlands Preserve more than a decade ago, corn and soybeans would have stretched as far as the eye could see. Now, what was once farmland has been transformed into a thriving wetland that resembles the vast floodplains of earlier ages. Water has returned to this incredible landscape, along with the creatures who rely on it for survival. The restoration of this natural area is especially important, as many of Illinois’ more than 8 million acres of wetlands have been drained and developed. Today, 90 percent of these habitats have been lost.

Emiquon’s History

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. Along this river system, Emiquon was the jewel, nurturing diverse and thriving communities of native plants and wildlife in its complex system of backwater wetlands and lakes. Due to its rich soil, Emiquon and the land around it was eventually drained and converted to agriculture. In addition to its incredible natural history, archaeologists consider Emiquon—with more than 149 documented archaeological sites—one of the richest places for discovered Native American sites in the country. These sites include Native American villages and ceremonial burial grounds. It is a place of mystery and legend with strong connections to the past.

Visit our website to learn more about The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Wetland Preserve.