KASKASKIA RIVER STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
The Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area (KRFWA) is one of the largest state-owned and managed sites in Illinois. Located 35 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, the area comprises more than 20,000 acres and extends along the Kaskaskia River from Fayetteville to the Mississippi River in St. Clair, Monroe, and Randolph counties. The Illinois Department of Transportation owns the land along the river and leases most of the land to the Department of Natural Resources to manage for fish, wildlife, and other recreational activities. There are a few areas which are managed by the Kaskaskia River Port District for industrial use and are unavailable for public use.
Baldwin Lake, a 2,018-acre reservoir built by Illinois Power Company, is contained within KRFWA. This lake serves as a source of cooling water in operating a nearby electric generating station. Baldwin Lake is open to the public for fishing and is a major part of the area?s waterfowl refuge.
KRFWA possesses a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Water acres include not only the Kaskaskia River with its associated side channel and backwater areas (2,200 acres), but also Baldwin Lake (2,018 acres) and Peabody-River King State Fish and Wildlife Area (2,200 acres).
A land area of about 16,000 acres includes an extensive mixed bottomland forest comprised of pecan, soft maple, bur oak, pin oak, shellbark hickory, and willow. Many cultivated and fallow fields, native grass patches, brushy areas, and other "open" areas are interspersed with the stands of mature bottomland timber. Due to this great diversity of habitats, there exists good wildlife populations on the site.
Southwestern Illinois, which includes KRFWA, has traditionally been rich in fish and wildlife resources. This is evident by its occupation by both American Indians and early settlers to the state. The Kaskaskia River remained essentially unchanged until the late 1960s when it was modified by channelization to promote commercial development and navigation. This led to eventual state ownership of the site and increased the public use of the area.
Concrete launch ramps are provided on the Kaskaskia River at Fayetteville, New Athens, on Highway 154 west of Baldwin, and at Evansville. "No-wake" zones exist near the ramps and industrial sites. Also, all of the oxbows have been designated as "no-wake" zones and boaters must operate their watercraft accordingly in these areas.
Weekends and holidays throughout the summer receive the most boat usage and boaters are urged to be extra safety conscious during this time. Boaters should also be aware of barge traffic on the river and at lock and dam site at the mouth of the river.