Pecumsaugan Creek-Blackball Mines Nature Preserve
Location and Access:
From Hwy. 178 bridge over the Illinois & Michigan Canal in Utica, go south about 2 blocks, then turn and go west 2 miles along the south side of the canal. The nature preserve is north of the canal and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad tracks.
Special Note: Due to the sensitive nature of hibernating bat colonies, entrance to this preserve is by permission only.
The Pecumsaugan Creek area has beautiful dolomite cliffs, dolomite prairie, upland forest, floodplain forest and savanna communities of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. The preserve is best known for the large abandoned limestone mine and its colonies of bats. Blackball Mine is one of the largest bat hibernacula in Illinois. Five species of bats are known to use the mines, including the federally endangered Indiana bat. Bats in Illinois are strictly insectivorous and one bat can devour up to 4,000 insect pests in a single evening. Generally speaking, bats are the nocturnal counterpart of the diurnal purple martin. Other notable animals in the preserve include a relic population of timber rattlesnake and the mottled sculpin, an unusual fish found in Pecumsaugan Creek. The preserve also provides a variety of habitats for threatened and endangered plants species. Visitors can see many of the unique natural features of this preserve from the I & M Canal towpath, however, entrance to the preserve requires a permit.
Ownership: Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Dedication: July 1984
Size: 205 acres plus an additional 6.1 acres of buffer
Topo Map: LaSalle 7.5
For Further Information Contact: Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Biologist, 100 First National Bank Plaza, Suite 10, Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (708/709-3300)
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