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Heron Pond-Wildcat Bluff in southern Illinois to celebrate 50 years as a protected nature preserve

Heron Pond-Wildcat Bluff in southern Illinois to celebrate 50 years as a protected nature preserve

SPRINGFIELD – The Heron Pond-Wildcat Bluff Nature Preserve at the Cache River State Natural Area in southern Illinois will celebrate its 50th year of permanent legal protection with a day of festivities on Saturday, April 9.

Heron Pond and its upland counterpart, Wildcat Bluff, were dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 1971. Today the area is known as Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve.

Heron Pond is part of the Cache River State Natural Area. The Cache is home to the northernmost cypress-tupelo swamps in the United States. Bald cypress and water tupelo are two tree species that can survive in standing water for much of their lives. The location provides critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. Only 10% of the original extent of the Cache River’s swamps and bottomland forests remain, and an even smaller fraction still resembles its historical condition.

The anniversary celebration will feature events throughout the day. The main ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the Barkhausen Wetlands Center, 8885 Illinois 37 in Cypress. Ecologists Max Hutchison, John Schwegman and Andy West will speak about the early days of the Cache River, the acquisition of Heron Pond, and the original efforts to restore and manage the site’s swamps and bottomlands.

Other activities include documentary screenings and a juried art exhibit. To view the full schedule, visit

The event is hosted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in collaboration with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Friends of the Cache River Watershed, and Friends of the Illinois Nature Preserves.