Jasper County hosts the largest of three prairie chicken flocks till existing in Illinois. Large flocks were once a common sight in Illinois. The prairie chicken has earned fame through the uniqueness of its mating ritual. Central IL Public Service Company has designated approximately 240 acres of its property as additional prairie chicken sanctuary.
History of the Area
In 1979 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources signed a 25-year lease with Central Illinois Public Service Company which designated the 1,775 acre Newton Lake and 540 acres of shoreline as a day use conservation area. By agreement, recreational activities in the area consist of fishing, picnicking, trail use and deer hunting.
Central Illinois Public Service Company (CIPS) constructed an electric power generating plant in Jasper County southwest of Newton, Illinois. The Newton Plant is the most modern in the network of CIPS generating plants. The plant is fueled by coal and utilizes the latest developments in sulfur dioxide removal systems. It is hoped that this system will enable the plant to continue to burn high sulfur Illinois coal, yet remain with environmental safety standards. When the two generators at the plant operate simultaneously a total generating capacity of approximately 1,180,000 kilowatts is produced. CIPS provides electric service to an estimated 760,000 people in 65 counties over a service area of 20,000 square miles.
You can launch your boat from the two-lane ramp at the south access area. Concessions are available near the lake. The northern ends of the Sand Creek and Laws Creek fingers of the lake are restricted areas. Sailboating and swimming are not permitted. There is a 25 HP limit on boat motors.
Twenty two miles of trail along the picturesque shoreline of the lake were opened in 1980. The trail system begins at the North Access parking lot . The trails are opened to hiking, cross-country skiing and equestrian use. A five mile mountain bike trail is also open. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
To reach Newton Lake Fish & Wildlife Area in Jasper County from I-57 & I-70 take exit #160 at Effingham, proceed east on RT 33 to Dieterich, turn right at the stop light, go south approximately 12 miles, turn left at Newton Lake Entrance sign and go east approximately 3 miles; this will bring you to the boat ramp. The site office is 2 miles north of the boat ramp.