White Rock Nature Preserve Opens!

December 16, 2011 clifftop CliffNotes

Hikers on bridge, T. Rollins

Eager to get to the new nature preserve, hikers walk to the opening celebration on October 22, 2011. Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography.

White Rock Nature Preserve is now open to the public. The 306-acre tract is permanently protected by formal dedication with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. The preserve is owned by two local conservation non-profit organizations — Clifftop and the Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation & Development.


Crowd at the opening, T. Rollins

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography

The purchase of White Rock was made possible by generous grants from the Grand Victoria Foundation, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and a U.S. Fish & Wildlife State Wildlife Grant, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

false rue anemone, T. Rollins

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography

White Rock hosts extremely rare natural habitats. The White Rock tract is located within the Hill Prairie Corridor, a 25-mile stretch of ribbons and patches of hill prairie perched on top of the Mississippi River bluffs, looming above the flood plain. Statewide there are only 495 acres of loess hill prairie, and 40% of that total is in Monroe County. White Rock Nature Preserve hosts 7 acres of this rare habitat.

White Rock landscape, T. Rollins

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography

The area also contains limestone glades, an even rarer habitat in the state, with only 195 acres remaining in Illinois. White Rock Nature Preserve also is a part of a large, un-fragmented, upland forest, one of the largest contiguous blocks of woodlands in the state.

The high quality natural habitats of White Rock and adjacent natural

dragonfly, T. Rollins

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography

areas host a wealth of wildlife. More than 800 species of plants, over 200 species of migratory or breeding birds, 43 species of mammals, and 62 species of reptiles and amphibians may be found here. Several state-listed threatened or endangered species make their home here, including Wooly Buckthorns, Missouri Coneflowers, Cerulean Warblers, Great Plains Rat Snakes, Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes, Flathead Snakes, Eastern Narrowmouth Toads, Common Striped Scorpions, and the increasingly rare Coachwhip Snakes.

White Rock Nature Preserve contains 2-miles of non-looping trails through dense and healthy woodlands. Both the Ridgetop North and Ridgetop South trails terminate at hill prairies. Visitors must stay on the trails; hazardous areas may exist on this preserve; and foot traffic will damage restoration efforts on the hill prairies.

The White Rock Nature Preserve parking area is located on Bluff Road, two miles south of Valmeyer. Directional signs at the parking area tell visitors how to walk to the preserve. The nature preserve is open to the public daily, for foot traffic only, from dawn to dusk.

White Rock landscape, T. Rollins

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography

Additional natural areas are also open to hiking and outdoor recreation in Southwestern Illinois: these include Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve and Kidd Lake Marsh State Natural Area, located along Bluff Road a half mile south of the Village of Fults; Valmeyer’s Salt Lick Point Land and Water Reserve; and Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserves, located on Stemler Road, just off of Triple Lakes Road, in nearby St. Clair County.

Clifftop, a local nonprofit organization, is focused on preserving and protecting area bluff lands.

A version of this article appeared in the December 16 2011 edition of the Monroe County Independent.

© 2011 all content rights reserved, Clifftop NFP.


White Rock Nature Preserve

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