Cache River Nature Fest



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Birding Blitz

Silent Auction
& Raffle


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Contact Information


Cache River Nature Fest 2014 was a Success!

Cache River Nature Fest 2014 was a big success! On behalf of the Friends of the Cache River 
Watershed and Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, we'd like to extend a special THANK YOU to all our volunteers for their time and efforts in making this year a success. We couldn't have done it without your support. The event brought visitors from local communities as well as central and northern Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana and a few from other countries. All canoe tours were booked well in advance of the event, and the guided hikes and bike tour were well attended. We would also like to extend a Special Thank You to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the use of their facilities and staff support and the Shawnee Community College for their support and contribution of resources. 
The diversity of exhibits including special programs on salamanders, warblers, birds of prey, swamp rabbits, frogs, toads, turtles, snakes and fish captivated the crowds. Also many visitors took a taste of fried Asian carp and came back for more! There were many families in attendance and thanks to you we were able to provide a wonderful variety of nature-themed activities for kids. Almost every child was wearing a “Cache Challenge” card (A challenge to visit at least five stations and redeem the card for a “Friends of the Cache” patch) and wearing a fish print or animal track bandanna. 
Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, Friends of the Cache Watershed members, natural resource staff, exhibitors and associated organizations, the event was more than a success, it was a memorable experience for many people. Once again, many thanks for your efforts and contribution of time…the most precious gift. We hope to see you next year! 


Participate in Cache River Nature Fest and play a part in restoring the Cache River Wetlands! Proceeds from t-shirt and FRIENDS merchandise sales, donations, and pledge dollars collected from the Birding Blitz competition go towards restoration & education projects within the Cache River Watershed and surrounding area. Nature Fest t-shirts are available for sale at the Cache River Wetlands Center.


The 2014 t-shirt will be available at Nature Fest! Youth and adult sizes available. Get 'em while they last!

Illinois' Bayou - Cache River Wetlands

Making up only 1.5% of the land area in Illinois, the Cache basin harbors 11.5% of the State's high quality floodplain forests, 23% of its remaining high quality barrens habitat, and 91% of the State's high quality swamp/wetland communities. The area shelters 100 state threatened or endangered species and seven federally threatened or endangered species. The Cache River Wetlands are home to some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River, includes three National Natural Landmarks, and has been designated a "Wetlands of International Importance", putting it in the same ecological league as Okefenokee Swamp and the Everglades.

The area is managed and protected by a unique public-private partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Ducks Unlimited. This partnership, known as the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture, has a broad vision of restoring the integrity of the Cache River system establishing a goal to restore over 60,000 acres along the Cache River and its major tributaries. The partnership along with other resource agencies, organizations and citizens are working to restore the Cache River to a level of structure and function that would ensure a self-sustaining river-floodplain system.

Areas of Interest within the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture

Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ducks at Bellrose ReserveCypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge one of over 500 Refuges across the country that provides valuable habitat for a diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species. The Refuge includes 16,000 acres along the Lower Cache River protecting remnants of bald cypress-water tupelo swamps, oak barrens, and vast stands of bottomland hardwood forests. The refuge is important resting, nesting, and feeding habitat for waterfowl and a diversity of other migratory and wading birds. Other resident wildlife include deer, squirrels, foxes, mink, as well as, bobcats, river otters, and a host of frogs and toads, turtles and snakes. With such diversity the Refuge provides many opportunities to watch wildlife, hunt, fish, canoe, and hike. The Refuge office is located at 137 Rustic Campus Drive, on the campus of Shawnee Community College (nine miles east of Ullin, Il.) where additional site information is available. Contact (618)-634-2231 or visit

Cache River State Natural Area - Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Family canoeing through the CacheThe Cache River State Natural Area is situated on the Upper and Lower Cache River within a floodplain carved long ago by glacial floodwaters of the Ohio River. The area includes over 15,000 acres composed of three management units: Little Black Slough, Lower Cache River Swamps, and Glass Hill. Among the outstanding natural features found within this area are massive bald cypress trees aged between 700 and 1,000 years old, shadowy bottomland forests, undisturbed mature upland forests, and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps rich with life. The Cache River SNA provides food, water, and cover for an incredible number of plants and animals, more than 100 of which are listed as State and seven which are listed as Federally threatened or endangered species. Viewing platforms, boardwalks and over 20 miles of trails provide many opportunities to experience the Cache. Additional information can be obtained from the SNA Henry N. Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center at (618) 657-2064 or the SNA headquarters office at (618)-634-9678 or visit

Grassy Slough PreserveGrassy Slough Preserve - The Nature Conservancy
Grassy Slough Preserve sits where the lower section of the Cache River begins near the village of Belknap. The site covers 3,000 acres and historically consisted of forested wetlands. Today efforts are underway to restore the area to a mosaic of swamps, marshes, canebrakes, and bottomland hardwood forests. The area includes 500 acres of restored wetlands which attract a myriad of birds including migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, bald eagles, herons, and egrets. The Jean Farwell Memorial Viewing Area overlooks the site and provides opportunities to observe a diversity of wildlife.

For additional information about other natural areas and highlights throughout southern Illinois, check out the Local Information page.

Henry N. Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center

Cache River Wetlands CenterCache River Nature Fest 2014 will take place out of the Cache River Wetlands Center. The 7,000 square-foot interpretive center, owned and operated by the Illinois DNR, and is supported by the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy. Here, visitors may acquire information on agency partners, recreation opportunities, and habitat restoration projects currently underway. The center provides visitors with a wealth of information about the value of wetlands, the area's cultural and natural history and unique sites to explore. The facility includes a 2000 square foot exhibit area, a 725 square foot audio visual room and wildlife viewing area overlooking a wetland. Visitors are invited to learn about the history of the watershed along an impressive timeline in the exhibits. The timeline is full of fascinating local artifacts, has a video screen with five perspectives of the Cache River watershed, and audio sticks sharing local oral history. A twelve minute orientation film gives a wonderful overview and introduction of the watershed, explaining the unique bio-diversity of the flora and fauna that can be experienced here. Visitors can also acquaint themselves with the area by exploring an interactive diorama of a bald cypress-water tupelo swamp, two interactive touch screens featuring images of the Cache River watershed and migratory birds, area State champion tree information and changing landscape displays. The center also provides programs and activities to the general public throughout the year, emphasizing this historically rich and biologically diverse region of southern Illinois. Located south of White Hill on Illinois Route 37, the center is named for Henry N. Barkhausen, an industrialist and avid outdoorsman, who served as director of the Illinois Department of Conservation from 1970-73. He also served as a board member on a local citizens' committee to promote restoration and protection of the Cache River area.

Egrets on Cypress Trees

To contact the Wetlands Center call (618) 657-2064, Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. The Wetlands Center is located at 8885 State Route 37 South, Cypress, Illinois 62923, two miles north of the intersection of State Route 169 and 37; nine miles south of the intersection of State Route 146 and 37.

To reach the Cache River Wetlands Center from Vienna, IL, go West 5 miles on Route 146 from the intersection of Route 146 & US Route 45, turn left or South on Route 37, then 9 miles to Wetlands Center entrance - follow signs.


Cache River Nature Fest is sponsored by these organizations . . . Thank you!  

© 2014 Cache River Nature Fest. All Rights Reserved.