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  Ray Norbut - State Fish & Wildlife Area   

   
West-Central Region

46816 290th Ave
Griggsville, IL 62340
217.833.2811
E-mail
Park entrance sign
Site Map Fishing Hunting
Eagle Watching History Trails
   

Ray Norbut State Fish and Wildlife Area is a 1,140-acre mosaic of bottomlands, woodlands, wetlands, open fields, steep hills, rocky ravines, hollows, brushy draws and bluffs. Located along the Illinois River, it lies 5 miles east of Griggsville and 2 miles south of Valley City in Pike County. Big Blue Island, a narrow, 100-acre strip of land in the river, is part of the site. Other notable geographic features are two west-east flowing streams--Blue Creek, a river tributary, and the spring-fed Napoleon Hollow Creek.

Woodland flowerThis site provides exceptional habitat for a wide range of harvestable, non-harvestable, uncommon, threatened or endangered plants and animals. Examples are the bald eagle, a winter resident of the wooded blufflands, and the jeweled shooting star, a rare pre-glacial relict wildflower species. To provide a refuge for the eagles, portions of the bluff areas are closed to the public seasonally.

Oak and hickory are the dominant tree species in a woodland that also contains red cedar, red and white oak, sugar maple, ironwood, blue beech and, in the bottomlands, abundant willow, cottonwood and silver maple. The oak/hickory community is the highest quality forest in the region and supports a diverse assemblage of wildlife.

Forests, bluffs and limestone outcroppings are rich in wildflowers and ferns. Among the wildflowers are hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauties, toothwort, yellow bellwort, trout lily, trillium, wild ginger, larkspur, phlox, wild petunia, Venus looking glass and Mayapple. The ferns include cliffbrake, Christmas and woolly lip species.

Although intended primarily for public hunting, the area also beckons hikers and nature enthusiasts with several undeveloped trails, one of which has a trailhead parking lot. Fishing is permitted, too, in the Illinois River and Blue Creek.

No facilities or programs exist for camping, picnicking, horseback riding, water sports, winter activities or other recreational pursuits.

Pre-history

Archaeological evidence found at Ray Norbut State Fish and Wildlife Area indicates a densely populated settlement existed there during the Middle Woodland Era, about 2,000 years ago. It’s not certain what the community’s purposes were and whether it was permanent or occupied only intermittently. Discovery of more than a dozen burial mound groups and other cultural remains within the site suggests it was a mortuary camp and headquarters for other, non-mortuary rituals and ceremonies. Scientific investigations dating back to the 1800s have documented occupancy of the tract by cultures as old as 8,000 years and as recent as 200 years ago.

History

Initial Conservation Department land acquisitions at the site, in 1970, totaled 860 acres. Another 280 acres were added in 1988 to bring the area to its present size. Designated from the outset for public hunting, the facility was called Pike County Conservation Area, a name was retained until 1995 when it was changed to honor Raymond J. Norbut, an employee of the Department of Conservation for more than 36 years and superintendent of state parks for a decade.

According to historical accounts, Pike County’s first Caucasian resident settled along the river in Flint Township within what is now the Ray Norbut State Fish and Wildlife Area. Later, the historic settlement of Big Blue Hollow--the county’s second-ranked center of commerce in 1842--was established on Blue Creek in Detroit Township, at the southern end of the site. Big Blue Hollow boasted three flour mills, a sawmill, a store, stone quarry and several residences.

Elsewhere on the site are a limestone kiln used to make masonry mortar in the mid- to late 1800s, several 19th-century homesteads, a family cemetery, a homestead having both historic and prehistoric significance, a number of burial mounds and other archaeological sites. Research on these structures and sites continues.

Hunting

Whitetail deer
All but 140 of the area’s 1,140 acres are open to hunting. Timber occupies approximately 900 acres and open fields--some cultivated as wildlife food plots--comprise the remainder of the vegetative cover. Sunflower fields supply food for doves in the late summer and fall, while small grain plots help sustain a wide range of birds and other creatures during the winter. Hunting is allowed for dove, squirrel, deer, turkey, rabbit, quail, raccoon and waterfowl. Statewide seasons, shooting hours and bag limits apply. All hunters should check-in at site headquarters to be informed of site specific regulations.  Hunter Fact Sheet

Fishing

Bank fishing is allowed in the Illinois River and Blue Creek, where bass, bluegill, catfish and crappie may be caught along with other riverine species. Pull-off parking facilities for bank anglers are available in several locations, but there are no accommodations for launching or retrieving watercraft.

Trails

Hikers will find an undeveloped trail ranging from a 0.25 to 1 miles in each of the property’s three designated geographic zones--south, central and north. In addition, a gravel-surfaced township road also serves as a trail as it angles through and around the site, forming the boundary line for one segment before coming to a dead-end at Blue Creek. No signs, toilets or other amenities are provided.

Winter Eagle Watching

After the fall/winter hunting seasons conclude, most of the site south of I-72 is closed for the benefit of bald eagles wintering on the river bluffs. Bald eagle viewing is allowed, but watchers are not allowed south of the highway bridges.

 


  • While groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
  • At least one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
  • Pets must be kept on leashes at all times.
  • Actions by nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
  • We hope you enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
  • For more information on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
  • Telecommunication Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.

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