Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

ILLINOIS BEACH 

The shore of Lake Michigan in the Illinois Beach RRA, photo by Mike Jeffords, INHS Microclimates along the lakefront range from extremely dry beaches and sand dunes to the moist swales or sloughs between the sand ridges. In this relatively small area the flora ranges from the prickly pear cactus and creeping juniper to wetlands plants and wildflowers such as orchids, wood lillies, gentians, and Indian paintbrushes.

 

Map of Site

Land Cover Map of Site

 

Size: 49,172 acres; 77 square miles

Location: Northeastern Illinois on Lake Michigan; Lake and Cook counties

Illinois Beach RRA is one of the most ecologically rich and unique areas in Illinois. The diversity of habitats created because of its location on the shores of Lake Michigan support a wide variety of plants and animals. Significant and unusual topographic features include beaches, ridges and swales, and dunes. The area is an important migratory route for birds. This site's boundaries include urbanized areas of the Chicago metropolitan region. 

LANDCOVER: The predominant landcover in Illinois Beach RRA is urban/built-up (63%), followed by upland woods (15%). Illinois Beach RRA has the second highest percentage of urban/built -up acreage among the RRAs. This RRA ranks third in percentage of nonforested wetlands.

NATURAL AREAS: There are 15 Natural Areas, covering almost 9% of the site. Illinois Beach and Illinois Dunes North account for three-fourths of the total Natural Area acreage.

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS: This site has no BSS streams.

HERITAGE SITES: Illinois Beach RRA has 155 Heritage points. Twenty-one significant community types occur in this RRA, several of which are primary communities--foredunes, beaches, and bluffs--specific to this part of the state. The Heritage database lists 47 plant species, 17 animal species, and a peregrine falcon hacking site for this RRA.

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND: State land consists of Illinois Beach State Park. Fort Sheridan is federally owned.

NATURE PRESERVES: There are three Nature Preserves in this site. Many unique lakefront communities such as lakeshore, foredune, sand prairie, sand savanna, fen, panne, sedge meadow, marsh, and pond are found in these Nature Preserves.

NATURAL DIVISION: Illinois Beach RRA is in the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division.

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

Total Acreage

    49,172

Natural Areas

    Acreage

4,252

    Number

15
Biologically Significant Stream Mileage 0
Natural Heritage Sites 155
State Land

    State Parks

1

    State Conservation Areas

0

    State Forests

0

    State Fish & Wildlife Areas

0

    Acreage

3,092

    Percentage of RRA

6.3
Federal Land

    Acreage

726

    Percentage of RRA

1.5

 


 

LANDCOVER

    Acres

    % of RRA

Upland forest 7,134.37 14.51
Bottomland forest 504.58 1.03
Wetland-nonforested 2,180.29 4.43
Grassland 1,909.74 3.88
Cropland 927.27 1.89
Urban/Built-up 30,866.50 62.77
Water 5,350.88 10.88
Total 48,873.63 99.39

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURAL AREAS INVENTORY SITES

    Acres

Blair Woods 135
Blodgett Bluff 5
Crabtree Farm Woods 37
Fort Sheridan Bluff 24
Fort Sheridan Site 2
Glencoe Balsam Poplar Site 6
Hubbard Woods Site 2
Illinois Beach 2,013
Illinois Dunes North 1,222
Lake Bluff Woods 34
Lyons Woods *
McCormick Nature Preserve 135
Ravinia Bluff 4
Tangley Oaks Woods 87
Waukegan Beach 547
* = point location, map not available

 


 

BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT STREAMS

None

 


 

NATURAL HERITAGE CATEGORIES

    Occurrences

    Types/Species

Communities

    Lake

2 2

    Wetland

9 5

    Forest

8 2

    Savanna

2 2

    Prairie

11 7

    Primary

7 3
Threatened and Endangered Animals

    Bird

11 9

    Fish

4 2

    Reptile

2 2

    Insect

4 4
Threatened and Endangered Plants

    Plant-Dicot

46 22

    Plant-Gymnosperm

16 4

    Plant-Monocot

1632 21
Geological Feature
Other

    Hacking Site Peregrine Falcon

1 1

 


 

STATE AND FEDERAL LAND

State Parks

    Illinois Beach

3,092

    State Conservation Areas

0

    State Forests

0

    State Fish and Wildlife Areas

0
Federal Land

    Fort Sheridan

726

 


 

ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES

    Acres

    Illinois Beach

1,095

    North Dunes

242

    Spring Bluff

214

 


 

NATURAL DIVISIONS

    Acres in RRA

    % of RRA

    % of Division

Northeastern Morainal 48,685 99.0 2.0
Major Water Bodies 487 1.0 .0

 



Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820
217-333-6880
cms@inhs.illinois.edu

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