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Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish Wildlife Area
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Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area snow geese © Beth Kabrick
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area goldfinch © Beth Kabrick
Feb 28 2016
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area fowl © Beth Kabrick
snow geese Feb 28 2016
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area goldfinch © Beth Kabrick
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area woodpecker © Beth Kabrick
feb 28 2016
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area snow geese © Beth Kabrick
Feb 28 2016
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area snow geese © Beth Kabrick
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area Snow geese © Beth Kabrick
Feb 28 2016
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10149 County Hwy. 11
Chandlerville, Illinois   62627

Phone: 217-452-7741
Reservations: 217-452-7741
Email: park email button icon
A 26-square mile tract situated in the gently rolling countryside of west-central Illinois, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area (JEPC) is one of the Department's largest public access areas.

A mosaic of mature forest land, agricultural land and grassland, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area is dissected by Panther and Cox creeks and their tributaries. In addition to 6,000 acres of timberland and 4,200 acres of prime farmland, Site M contains a rare hill prairie. It also is home to a rich assortment of wildlife, from endangered species that include Indiana bat, northern harrier and red-shouldered hawk, to such game species white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant and mourning dove.
Nature of the Area
An outstanding example of the original loess hill prairies of central Illinois is JEPC's Cox Creek Hill Prairie Natural Area. The 175-acre site encompasses remnants of scattered hill prairies composed of loess (windblown silt), which occur within forest openings on steep terrain where soils are droughty and well-drained. Among the plant species found on loess hill prairies are little bluestem, side-oats grama, fringed puccoon, wild petunia and prairie dock.

Several rare Illinois plant species grow here. The small white lady's-slipper orchid has state-endangered status, while four other plants are listed as state-threatened species: the savanna blazing star, the pale false foxglove, large-seeded mercury and Hill's thistle.

Surveys have identified 87 species of breeding birds here as well. Among the notable residents are eastern bluebird, orchard oriole and lark sparrow, plus 11 warbler species, five types of woodpecker and three species of owl. Loggerhead shrikes, a threatened species in Illinois, have been observed at the site, as have endangered northern harriers and red-shouldered hawks.
History of the Area
Settled and farmed by the mid-1800s, the contiguous farmsteads that composed Jim Edgar Panther Creek were purchased from 1968-1974 by Commonwealth Edison for development of a coal-fired, electric-power generating plant and a 5,000-acre cooling lake. The company named the 16,550 -acre tract "Site M" for nearby Menard County where coal to fuel the power plant was to mined.

Commonwealth Edison leased about half of the acreage for cropland, and through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Natural Resources, also provided limited upland and forest game hunting. Through the years, hunters applying for permits to the area became well-acquainted with the Site M name.

Commonwealth Edison abandoned its plans to build a power plant at Site M in the 1980s, citing decreased electrical demands, and offered the land for sale. By virtue of its size and location, Site M became an unparalleled opportunity for the Department of Natural Resources to address critical conservation needs and meet outdoor recreation demands. With funds specifically designated for conservation purposes, the state of Illinois added the acreage to the public trust in June 1993, making Site M the largest tract ever acquired by the Department. Hereafter Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area shall be referred to as JEPC.

Effective January 1, 2001, Panther Creek Conservation area was absorbed into JEPC in an effort to avoid confusion and simplify site regulations. This brings the total acres of JEPC to 16,550. This portion of the site will be known as the West Open Unit.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Bike Trailsyes
 Bridle Trailsyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
 Electric Sitesyes
 Water/Electric Sitesyes
 Full Hookup Sitesyes
There are two campgrounds at JEPC. Prairie Lake Campground has 84 sites, 19 are full hookup sites with sewer drops and water at the sites. The other sites all have electricity. There are also nine rent a cabins located in the campground. The cabins are reservable but the campsites are not. The cabins are located on the shore of Prairie Lake and offer a great view. The cabins have two rooms with the back room containing two bunk beds. The front room has a double bed, drop down table and a couple chairs. All beds are equipped with mattresses but you must bring your own bedding. You can not cook or smoke inside the cabins. There is a concrete patio outside each cabin with a grill and table. All cabins have electricity, ceiling fans, and a 1000 watt heater. They rent for per night and can be reserved for an additional charge. On weekends you must reserve cabins for two nights. To reserve a cabin call 217-452-7741 Monday- Friday 7-3. Reservations must be made by Tuesday at 3 PM for any date the rest of the week. Reservations can be cancelled with three days written notice with the camping fee returned minus the reservation fee. We also have an equestrian campground, Questing Hills, with 51 electric sites.

A Class AA campground is available with 18 sites that have sewer drops and water hookups at individual sites and 64 class A sites. A new shower building is also available. No Reservations are being accepted for the Class AA or the Class A sites.

The primitive camping area at Jim Edgar Panther Creek is also open. Seven three-sided shelters are available to camp near or camp in for a fee of $6 per night. Hikers and mountain bike riders must travel approximately a quarter mile from the nearest parking lot to access the shelters.

Horse Area
A 22-car/trailer parking lot, along with a 26-mile trail, are located in the northwest corner of JEPC on Questing Hills Road just off County Highway 2. A second access to the equestrian trail is found at Q-4 parking lot which is situated between the 9 mile north loop trail and the southern 11 and 6 mile loops. April 16th - May 15th the trail is open noon until dusk. May 16th - October 31st trails are open sunrise to sunset. November 1st through November 15th horse trails are closed on Tuesdays and Saturdays but open the other days from dawn to dusk. Trails are closed November 16th - April 15th each year.
Picnic areas and restrooms are located at Gridley Lake, Drake Lake, Painter pond, Geiss pond, and the Prairie Lake day use area. Shelters are reservable for a fee or if not reserved they can be used on a first come first serve basis.
24 miles of mountain bike trail are available in two loops and a connection trail. The Prairie lake loop is 17 miles, the Drake Lake Loop is 5 miles, and two miles of trail connect the two. It is open noon to dusk April 16th - May 15th and sunrise until sunset May 16th - October 31st. November 1st - April 15th the trail is closed to all mountain bikes but is available for hikers. The trail is very scenic with forest and grassland portions and many times views the lake. It also has a lot of roll to it which is unusual for central Illinois.
For hikers, off-trail hiking is also available. Parking areas are positioned off public roads throughout the site. Because unmarked open wells may exist in the area, caution must be used by all individuals visiting JEPC.

A three mile hiking and jogging trail opened fall of 1999 around the lake shore at Gridley lake. Seventeen miles of new hiking and mountain bike trail opened April 16, 2001 around Prairie lake. Seven more miles of mountain bike/hiking were opened in 2003 around Drake Lake and connecting to the Prairie Lake trail. There are 26 miles of Equestrian Trails in three loops. The topography of the trails has a lot of elevation changes.
Area Attractions
The Park has shelters in the following areas: Prairie Lake Day Use Area (has a fireplace), Gridley Lake Day Use Area, Geiss Pond Day Use Area, Painter Pond Day Use Area, and Drake Lake Day Use Area. These areas are reservable for a non-refundable fee.

The Chuck Farmer Memorial Archery Range is conveniently located along Prairie Lake, with the shotgun range just down the road. Both ranges are open from dawn to dusk year round, except for during firearm deer season. The shotgun range is closed during IDNR Wingshooting Clinics, and is only for shotguns and targets. No slugs allowed, only shot shells.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
December 27 our favorite park by tom and jan
park review stars; one to five very nice, well taking care of. wish it had more mature trees. staff very friendly and some sites have full hook ups.
June 2 Nice Park by FC Resident
park review stars; one to five Nice park. Love the full hookups. Staff is nice and friendly. Park is well maintained. Attended the wingshooting clinic last year and very much enjoyed it. The only downside... Lack of trees = little shade. Will definitely return though.
June 9 Nice Park by Bob Marshall
park review stars; one to five Great early Spring and Fall spots limited. Shade trees make it hot for late Summer camping. Park staff keep park mowed and well cared for. They do a great job.
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Crazy Horse Campground, LLC
2113 Crazy Horse Road
Ashland, IL
Nearby Hotels

Located in Cass County 25 miles northwest of Springfield off State Illinois Route 125, 10 miles northeast of Virginia, 10 miles west of Petersburg and New Salem State Historic Site, and 10 miles northwest of Ashland.

Access JEPC from Interstate 72 by taking the Ashland/Jim Edgar Panther Creek exit at State Route 123 and traveling north through Ashland to State Route 125 then west to Newmansville Road.

Travelers on Interstate 55 have easy access to JEPC by taking the Sherman exit to Veterens Parkway then west on 97 to the interection with 125. Continue west on 125 through Pleasant Plains and past Ashland. Just west of Ashland turn north on Newmansville Road and folllow the signs.

Visitors approaching the site from the north west and expecially equestrian campers who will be using the equestrian campground located on the north west corner of the site should use HWY 78 south to just north of Chandlerville. Turn at the brown and white JEPC sign to the east and follow the signs to the destination of your choice.

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