HEIDECKE STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE AREA
Located southeast of Morris, Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is managed by the Department of Natural Resources for fishing and hunting. DNR has leased Heidecke Lake since 1978, when it was built as a cooling lake for the Collins power plant, which is now owned and operated by Midwest Generation. The lake provides more than 1,300 acres of prime fishing opportunities.
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area
Adjacent to Heidecke Lake is the biggest prairie remnant remaining in the Prairie State, and one of the largest prairies in the United States. Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area, totaling 2,527 acres, provides a link with Illinois' past.
Nearly 60 percent of Illinois was once covered with tall prairie grasses and broad-leaved flowering plants, known as forbs. Big bluestem, Indian grass, switch grass and cord grass dominated much of the landscape, accented by goldenrod, New England asters, cream false indigo and shooting star. Today in Illinois, only a tiny fraction of one percent of land remains as high quality, original prairie. Consequently, Goose Lake Prairie is of historical and natural importance. It is a reminder of the terrain encountered by Native Americans and early settlers. It also serves as a haven for wildlife, including wild ducks and geese, rare Henslow's sparrows, plains pocket gophers and larger animals such as deer and coyote.
The Youth Conservation Corps built a replica of one of the first homes in Grundy County for display at Goose Lake Prairie. John and Agnes Cragg and their six children lived in the original cabin, which was built in the late 1830s near the town of Mazon. Nicknamed "The Palace" because of its two-story design, the home served as a stop on the Old Chicago-Bloomington Teamster Trail, making it the predecessor to a truck stop.
Overnight camping is not available at Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area. Check the Visitor Center at adjacent Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area for information on nearby public and private campgrounds.
A concession near the boat-launching area rents boats and motors. The concessionaire also sells bait and food.
To increase your understanding and appreciation for Goose Lake Prairie, its Visitor Center features nature displays and multi-media presentations. Different programs are presented throughout the year, with a schedule available at the information counter. Groups providing advance notice can arrange videos, lectures and guided hikes with the park interpreter. Call (815) 942-2899 for more information.