Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

LOWER WABASH RIVER 

Stream with tall tree canopy and open floor in the Lower Wabash River RRA, photo by Mike Jeffords, INHS The Wabash River, the second largest tributary to the Ohio River, forms almost 200 miles of the lower border between Illinois and Indiana. Historically, the Wabash River has supported 27 state-threatened or state-endangered mussel species, including eight whichare federally endangered. Mussel populations are greatly reduced in numbers of individual and species in the Wabash, as is the case in the rest of Illinois and the U.S.

Map of Site
Land Cover Map of Site

SIZE: 163,894 acres; 256 square miles

LOCATION:Southeastern Illinois along the Indiana border; Edwards, Gallatin, Lawrence, Wabash, and White counties.

The Lower Wabash River RRA includes the mainstem of the Wabash River below Lawrenceville to its confluence with the Ohio River and its small tributaries. The lower Wabash River watershed encompasses bottomland forest with wet prairie, sloughs, oxbows, and marshes. The lower reaches of the river have a sand, gravel, and rock substrate and feature pools and riffles.

The bottomlands of the lower Wabash River are the last strongholds of the eastern deciduous forests in Illinois. Fertile, deep, and moist soil has promoted dense growth. The immense size of the trees (some are over 130 feet tall and six feet in diameter) as well as the diversity of species are remarkable features of the woods. Many of the trees have been harvested and the remaining forests in the area were considered remnants as early as 1876. Beall Woods Nature Preserve is the largest and best example of the original forests that occurred along the Wabash River; several state tree champions are present in this preserve.

LANDCOVER : Cropland is the predominant landcover in this RRA; two-thirds of the area is cropland. This site has the third highest percentage of cropland among the RRAs. Eighteen percent of this site is wooded. Bottomland forest is a significant natural resource in this RRA; this RRA ranks second in percentage of bottomland forest. Moderate amounts of nonforested wetlands are present.

NATURAL AREAS : Twelve Natural Areas are located in this RRA. Most of the acreage is in Wabash River sites. Other features include woods, sloughs, and ponds.

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS : The Lower Wabash River RRA ranks fourth in BSS streams mileage (75.5 miles), most of which is the Wabash River.

HERITAGE SITES: Thirty-four Heritage sites occur here. Five community types, two plant species, and 13 animal species are represented.

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND : Beall Woods State Park and Beall Woods Conservation Area are the only state or federal land which occurs in this RRA.

NATURE PRESERVES : Beall Woods is the only Nature Preserve within this RRA. It is the largest and best remnant of the immense forests which originally occurred along the Wabash.

NATURAL DIVISIONS : The site lies almost entirely within the Wabash Border Natural Division.

SUMMARY OF SITE CHARACTERISTICS: SIZE, BIOLOGIC RESOURCES, AND PUBLIC LANDS

Total Acreage

    163,894

Natural Areas

    Acreage

4,639

    Number

12
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 75.5
Natural Heritage Sites 34
State Land

    State Parks

1

    State Conservation Areas

1

    State Forests

0

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

0

    Acreage

1,261

    Percentage of RRA

0.8
Federal Land

    Acreage

0

    Percentage of RRA

0.0

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 12,030.65 7.34
Bottomland forest 17,885.50 10.91
Wetland- nonforested 1,447.51 0.88
Grassland 12,246.01 7.47
Cropland 109,717.10 66.94
Urban/Built-up 3,183.43 1.94
Water 7,385.06 4.51
TOTAL 163,895.26 99.99

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Beall Woods 390
Beaver Pond 26
Brushy Slough *
Goose Pond 82
Little Rock Farm 47
Little Wabash River <1
Mount's Woods 71
Oral Harris Woods 31
Wabash River 2,297
Wabash River-Lost Lake 210
Wabash River-Mount Carmel 1,484
Wabash River-Grayville *
* = point location, map not available

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

    Miles

Brushy Slough 4.0
Little Wabash River, Rte 50 to mouth 0.0
Wabash River, Clark Co. to White River 27.4
Wabash River, New Harmony to Ohio River 44.1

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES
Communities

    Occurrences

    Types/Species

    Floodplain Forest

1 1

    Lake

1 1

    Wetland

1 1

    Forest

3 1

    Primary

1 1
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Amphibian

1 1

    Fish

4 2

    Mammal

2 1

    Reptile

3 2

    Crustacean

1 1

    Mollusk

14 6
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Plant-Dicot

2 2
Geological Feature
Other

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND
State Parks

    Acres

    Beall Woods

632
State Conservation Areas

    Beall Woods

629
State Forests 0
State Fish and Wildlife Areas 0
Federal Land 0

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

Beall Woods 348

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    % of RRA

    % of Division

Wabash Border 159,587 99.6 9.2
Southern Till Plain 591 0.4 0.0



Illinois Natural History Survey

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Champaign, IL 61820
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cms@inhs.illinois.edu

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