Shannon Bayou Environmental Education Center
3301 Waldron Road, Aroma Park
41˚ 04' 47.61" N
87˚ 48' 44.31" W
This 46 acre preserve is located at 3301 Waldron Road in Aroma Park along the Kankakee River. The center provides space for programs about natural history, ecology, and preservation of open space in the Kankakee River Valley. The walking trail area features plantings of many native trees and plants, including native tallgrass prairie species and a butterfly garden of native plants. The site includes a 3/4 mile asphalt and fine gravel walking trail, a picnic shelter, and picnic tables.
The Storybook Trail at Shannon Bayou combines reading with physical fitness. The trail takes you around the perimeter of the Shannon Bayou savanna; pages from a picture book are framed and posted along the path. To read the whole story, the reader must walk (or run) from one sign to the other. The project was made possible by the George See Memorial, University of Illinois Extension, Kankakee County, and the Kankakee River Valley Forest Preserve.
Aroma Land and Water Reserve
1578 South Hieland Road
St. Anne, Il. 60964
41˚ 06' 02.90" N
87˚ 45' 24.08" W
One of the best sites in the area for woodland wildflowers, this 140 acre site is located on Heiland Road, 1.4 miles south of Highway 17 East. A 1.2 mile walking trail winds through several different types of natural areas, including high quality forest, prairie and wetland ecosystems. It also has nearly 1/4 mile of Kankakee River frontage and the associated floodplain forest.
The Forest Preserve mows a loop trail that branches off the existing 1 1/4 mile trail that meanders through the main body of the Aroma LWR. In the summer of 2011, 49.5 acres of mixed pine and hardwood forest were added.
Approximately 40 percent of the Aroma Preserve is a wetland and lies within the floodplain of the Kankakee River. In the spring, the wet oak forest gives a spectacular wildflower display while the wetland and sand prairie are the most colorful in the summer. There is ample parking in the parking lot on Hieland Road next to the playground.
Hieland Lakes Nature Preserve
6692 Route 17 East
St. Anne, Illinois 60964
41˚ 7' 02.23"N
87˚ 44' 24.82"W
The Forest Preserve has a new site located about three miles east of Kanakee on Route 17. The new site is 64 acres, including two connected lakes. An aquatic survey will be conducted to determine the fish population; meanwhile, limited fishing is allowed. Bluegill may be kept by anglers - all other fish are catch-and-release.
Plans for the site include planting native wildflowers, prairie restoration and creation of a walking path. At this time there is a mowed walking path, a parking lot, and a bridge at the point where the two lakes connect.
The site is a former and and gravel quarry. At this time, before restoration gets underway, there is not much in the way of native ecosystem remaining. The site offers a sparse population of native plant life, and the area is abundant with wildlife such as deer, fox, coyote, and waterfowl including great blue heron and egret.
Gar Creek Trail and Prairie Restoration
501 River Road
Kankakee, Il. 60901
41˚ 05' 30.84" N
87˚ 51' 32.78" W
Approximately 85 acres, this site is located about one-half mile east of Route 45 on River Road adjacent to Kankakee Community College. The 16 acre restored tall grass prairie was planted in 1992. A 3/4 mile trail begins a the prairie and winds along Gar Creek through oak woodland and down to the banks of the Kankakee River.
At river's edge, the trail connects with the Kanakee Riverfront Trail Project, which starts at the River Road Ball Diamonds. It then continues through Kankakee Community College, Kankakee River Valley Forest Preserve, and Shapiro Devolopment Center. The trail connects through the City of Kankakee and runs through the Perry Farm, which is a part of the Bourbonnais Township Park District.
"All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise; that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simly enlarges the boundaries of the community to inculde soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively, the land ... a land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapien from conqueror of the land community to plain member and citizen of it...it implies respect for his fellow members, and so also respect for the community as such."
- Aldo Leopold, "Sand County Almanac"