Sangamon River Corridor Reserve
This 108-acre tract is located along the Sangamon River just west of Monticello, Illinois, in Piatt County. The Sangamon River is on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) for its rich variety of aquatic resources, especially freshwater mussels, including the state endangered slippershell mussel (Alasmidonta viridis). In the one-mile stretch of the Sangamon River within this reserve, 17 species of mussels have been identified.
The river is bordered by floodplain forest and a small area of upland forest on the slopes. Plant species found here are the expected floodplain tree and shrub species, including cottonwood, silver maple, buttonbush, black willow, trumpet creeper, green ash, hackberry, catbriers, honey locust, box elder, American elm, and sandbar willow. On terraces and along the bluffs, basswood, sugar maple, shellback hickory, bur oak, walnut, white oak, northern red elderberry, and hawthorn occur.
Fifty-nine acres of former cropland within the reserve have been taken out of agricultural production and enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). These fields are being restored to native floodplain forest and have been planted with native species, including shingle oak, bur oak, swamp white oak, walnut, bitternut hickory, and sycamore.
See more photos of the reserve in our Facebook photo album.
LCF’s goals for this reserve include, to:
- Protect the high-quality Sangamon River ecosystem and the native aquatic life dependent on it
- Restore and protect 108 acres of floodplain forest for water filtration, wildlife habitat, and to protect and recharge the Mahomet Aquifer
- Reduce habitat fragmentation and increase forest habitat along the Sangamon River Corridor
- Provide outdoor recreational opportunities
This “keystone” site is a critical step toward LCF’s goal of creating a corridor of protected river land from Allerton Park through Monticello to Lodge Park.
Bruce Hannon Levee Trail
Open sunrise to sunset, year-round
The Bruce Hannon Levee Trail, named in honor of LCF President and Director Bruce Hannon (pictured at right), is located within the Sangamon River Corridor Reserve. This trail offers close-up views of the floodplain and the developing forest, along with opportunities for fishing, birding, nature study, and biological research.
Please read our rules for safe use before visiting. From the east, west, or north: From I-72, take Bridge St (Exit 164) to Monticello. At the stoplight, turn right on Market St. At the stop sign, turn right on Marion St (at McDonald’s). At the stop sign, turn left on Allerton Rd. In 0.3 miles, park on your right (at the split-rail fence). From the south: Take IL-105 north into Monticello. Turn left on Marion St (at McDonald’s). At the stop sign, turn left on Allerton Rd. In 0.3 miles, park on your right (at the split-rail fence).
Flooding Risk: Please Use Caution
Although the Bruce Hannon Levee Trail is elevated above the floodplain, there are potential hazards, especially after storm events, when flooding occurs.
IF WATER IS RISING, (photo, above left) turn around, don’t drown! The trail may be flooded over by the time you
leave, trapping you on the trail.
IF WATER IS FLOWING over the trail, (photo, above right) turn around, don’t drown!
Just one foot of rushing water can move a car.
Supported by $60,000 in grants from Archer Daniels Midland Company and the Robeson Family Foundation, LCF reached out to landowners along 27 miles of the Sangamon River Corridor, from Mahomet across Piatt County to the Macon County line. A $1,000 grant from the Champaign Soil and Water Conservation District funded follow-up work in the Champaign County portion of the corridor.
LCF contacted 166 landowners, providing information to foster a sense of place, build awareness of the statewide significance of the Sangamon River in Piatt and Champaign Counties, and educate landowners about state and federal land protection and stewardship programs. The response was encouraging; landowners showed a strong interest in protecting their forested bottomlands.
Purchase of a 100-acre tract in November 2012 was made possible by $160,000 in private gifts and a $455,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Read more in a News-Gazette article. LCF volunteers have planted tens of thousands of native trees, cleared the trail, and will perform ongoing maintenance such as removal of invasive species.
LCF focuses on the Sangamon River Corridor because:
- Upper reaches of the river are becoming developed
- The area from Mahomet to the Piatt/Macon County line helps recharge the Mahomet Aquifer and Lake Decatur, sources of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people
- Parts of the Sangamon are on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, noted for a high diversity of aquatic species, especially freshwater mussels
Supporters of the Sangamon River Corridor Reserve project include:
- Champaign Asphalt
- City of Decatur
- City of Monticello
- LCF Donors
- Illinois Clean Energy Commission
- Kennedy Hutson Associates
- Piatt County Forest Preserves
- Trees Forever
- LCF Volunteers