Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD
District: Mississippi Bluffs
Description: The RNA contains several, relatively undisturbed natural community types, outstanding geological features, and many rare plants and animals. There are four candidate Regional Forester's Sensitive species, 23 Shawnee National Forest Listed Species, and 29 Shawnee National Forest Listed animals recorded from the area. There are 37 Illinois rare, Threatened, or Endangered plant and animal species in the area. Furthermore, the area contains more plant species than any other site of comparable size and is considered to be one of the most outstanding natural areas in the Midwest . The Federally Endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are observed here. Candidate Regional Forester's Sensitive species known in the area are Price's groundnut (Apios priceana), Arkansas manna grass (Glyceria arkansana), pale manna grass (Puccinellia pallida), and giant sedge (Carex gigantea). The entire Illinois population of woodrat (Neotoma floridana) is found here.
Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA: Climatological information is taken from the collection station at Anna, IL, which is located 10 miles (16.1 km) southeast of the RNA.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) : Annual precipitation averages 46 inches (116 cm), 54% of which falls between April and September. Average seasonal snowfall is 13 inches (33 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures : Daily summertime temperatures average 77 °F, and daily maximum temperatures average 88 °F. Average temperature in the winter is 36 °F, and daily minimum temperatures average 27 °F.
Elevation: Elevation ranges from 650 feet (198 m) in the swamp to 840 feet (256 m) between Government Rock and McGee Hill.
Geology and Soils: Siliceous limestone of the Devonian Bailey formation forms the high cliffs of Pine Hills. Also present is chert from the Grassy Knob formation, which forms some of the lookouts on the cliffs. Pleistocene-age loess mantles the ridge crest. Sediments in the LaRue wetland have not been examined. Soils in the bottomlands are of the Karnak-Darwin-Jacob association and are clayey, alluvial sediments. Upland soils are Goss-Alford cherty silt-loam on the surface with a cherty, clayey subsoil.
Aquatic Features: At the base of Pine Hills bluff, several springs occur at the floodplain level. The source of these springs may be from sinkholes in the Hutchins Creek area. These springs contain a healthy spring cavefish population. The LaRue wetland is characterized by the winding form characteristic of horseshoe lakes. The swamp represents the meandering course of the Big Muddy River before it was intersected by the Grand Tower bend of the Mississippi River. Several man-made structures modify the waterflow in the area.
Section: Ozark Highlands (222 A)
Subsection(s): Mississippi River Alluvial Plain (222Ao), Illinois Ozarks (Aq)
Natural Communities (list acres):
|Xeric upland forest||35 acres|
|Dry upland forest||730 acres|
|Dry-mesic upland forest||75 acres|
|Mesic-upland forest||370 acres|
|Mesic floodplain forest and wet-mesic floodplain forest||645 acres|
|Wet floodplain forest||120 acres|
|Loess hill prairie and limestone glade||10 acres|
|Shrub swamp||390 acres|
|SAF Cover Types (list acres):||Kuchler Types (list acres):|
|40 Post oak-blackjack oak||66 Bluestem prairie and 74 Cedar glade (10)|
|52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak (270)||91 Oak-hickory forest (850)|
|53 White oak (70)||92 Elm-ash forest (615)|
|59 Yellow poplar-white oak-northern red oak (50)||93 Beech-maple forest (105)|
|60 Beech-sugar maple (50)||94 Mixed mesophytic (105)|
|62 Silver maple-American elm (345)||101 Oak-hickory-pine forest (40)|
|65 Pin oak-sweetgum (345)||103 Southern floodplain forest (860)|
|76 Shortleaf pine-oak (35)|
|87 Sweetgum-yellow-poplar (20)|
|93 Sugarberry-American elm-green ash (770)|
|110 Black oak (630 )|
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Common Shrub Species: Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), rosebud-azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum), farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), American hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), buttonbush (Cephalantus occidentalis), Virginia willow (Itea virginica), black willow (Salix nigra).
Common Herbaceous Species: Greenbrier (Smilax sp.), pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), dittany (Cunila origanoides), Virginia-creeper (Parthernocissus quinquefolia), common poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Christmas-fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), small-flowered alum-root (Heuchera parviflora), ozark-goldenrod (Solidago drummondii), tuckahoe (Peltandra virginica), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), sand phlox (Phlox bifida), false boneset (Kuhnia eupatorioides), white prairie clover (Dalea candida), copper iris (Iris fulva), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), side-oats gramma-grass (Bouteloua curtipendula).
Common Mammal Species: Shrew (Blarina brevicauda), least shrew (Cryptotis parva), Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus), fox squirrel (Sciurus niger),gray squirrel (S. carolinensis), golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttallii), woodrat (Neotoma floridana), fox (Vulpes sp), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), American mink (Mustela vison), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), bobcat (Felis rufus).
Common Bird Species: Approximately 175 species of birds have been seen in the area, including the wood duck (Aix sponsa), red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), common turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).
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Hutchinson, Max D. 1987. Establishment Record for the Larue Pine Hills - Otter Pond Research Natural Area within the Shawnee National Forest, Union County, Illinois. (pdf) Unpublished report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, and the Shawnee Supervisor's office, Harrisburg, IL. 140 pages with appendices.
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Last Modified: 09/28/2018