What’s described as a "big paddling event" is scheduled for this month at the Emiquon Preserve, which is a restored wetland along the Illinois River near Lewistown.
Groups such as The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Therkildsen Field Station, and Dickson Mounds Museum are inviting people to come out on Saturday, July 21, 8:00 a.m. to Noon, to canoe or kayak parts of the wetland with them (the rain date is Sunday, July 22 – same time). The event is free and open to the public.
Experts will be along to answer questions and talk about current scientific research on the more than 9,000 acre site.
“We will see parts of the preserve that most people have not seen before,” said Mitchell Baalman, a Wildlife Refuge Specialist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The land was farmed for around 80 years before being restored to a wetland. The site was last farmed in 2006 and it’s been returning to its natural state ever since.
“A lot of wildlife have returned there. The fish diversity is amazing. And the bird diversity is fantastic. The migrations that come through in the fall and spring are really awe inspiring,” said Baalman.
If low water levels make Emiquon inaccessible on the day of the event, the group will instead paddle the backwaters of the Illinois River at Havana.
Registration is required by July 18 through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can call 309-535-2290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register and/or to get more information.
People can bring their own canoes or kayaks, and a limited number of canoes will be available to loan. People can also reserve space on one of two voyager canoes that hold more than a dozen people.