Laurel Amberdine (amberdine) wrote,
Laurel Amberdine

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Today we had to drive a ways to handle an errand, and decided to detour a little and see how Emiquon is coming along.

Emiquon is a gigantic new nature reserve occupying the floodplains along the Illinois river. It's still under heavy development, reclaiming the habitat. It used to be the biggest farm in the world, corn as far as you could see, surreal in how flat the land was, and how uniformly the stalks grew. I remember visiting the area as a child, and in the fall dozens of immense harvesters ran back and forth all day and all night.

I hadn't heard about Emiquon before I saw it. On another drive through the area, a few years ago, the huge farm was mysteriously unplanted. We asked what was going on at a nearby museum and heard about the nature reserve, but back then it was just tens of thousands of acres of... weeds. Not very impressive.

Today, though, the levees have been dismantled somewhat, and the land is being carefully reclaimed. It's mostly underwater so the only way to see it all is by boat. It's so big that several highways run right through it, so our views were from the car. There's a hiking trail, but we didn't have time enough to detour that far -- will try to visit again soon, and I'll take some pictures.

Already, though, the wildlife diversity was amazing. Several waterfowl I've never seen before, huge flocks of swifts and dragonflies (good mosquitos out there, I guess.) Favorite amusing moment was the "Rare fish breeding habitat -- no fishing" sign. Apparently the egrets can't read. ;)
Tags: nature
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