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Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Category: Parks
General Info
30239 South State Street Route 53
Wilmington,
IL
60481
Phone
(815) 423 3637

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie was established in 1996 and is the first national tallgrass prairie in the country. It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and with the support of hundreds of volunteers and partner agencies, businesses, and organizations. Part of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, Midewin remained largely closed to the public while the Army cleaned up contamination remaining from decades of TNT manufacturing and packaging.

The Illinois Land Conservation Act (Public Law 104-106) created the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, designated the transfer of 19,165 acres of land in Illinois from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and mandates that Midewin be managed to meet four primary objectives:

To conserve, restore, and enhance the native populations and habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants.

To provide opportunities for scientific, environmental, and land use education and research.

To allow the continuation of existing agricultural uses of lands within Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie for the next 20 years, or for compatible resource magement uses thereafter.

To provide recreational opportunities that are compatible with the above purposes.

The first land transfer from the Army to the Forest Service took place on March 10, 1997, and included 15,080 acres of land that was believed to be free from contamination. Subsequent land acquisitions place the current size of Midewin at 15,454 acres.

A comprehensive Land and Resource Management Plan -- the Prairie Plan -- for Midewin was completed in 2002 and is available online.

Beginning in 2004, 6,400 acres of Midewin opened to the general public for nonmotorized recreation use.

Transportation

From I55: Look for exit 241, Wilmington. At the top of the ramp (both northbound and southbound), turn left or east. Travel 3.5 miles on New River Road to the intersection with State Route 53. Turn left or north. Follow Route 53 for 1.0 mile to the Midewin Supervisor's Office, on the right or east side of the highway.

OR: Take I55 to I80. Head east, or toward Toledo. Follow the directions below for I80.

From I80: Look for exit 132, State Route 53 and Chicago Street. At the end of the ramp (both eastbound and westbound), turn right or south. Travel south on State Route 53, also known as Historic Route 66, for approximately 15 miles -- past the race tracks, the town of Elwood, and Prairie Creek grain company. The SO will be on the left or east side of the highway.

From I57: Look for exit 327, Peotone. From the northbound ramp, turn left or west. From the southbound ramp, turn right or west. Travel approximately 15 miles on the Wilmington-Peotone Road to the lighted intersection at State Route 53. Turn right or north, and travel approximately 1.5 miles. The SO is on the right or east side of the highway.

River Road Native Seed Production Gardens

From I55: Look for exit 241, Wilmington. At the top of the ramp (both northbound and southbound), turn left or east. Travel about 2 miles on New River Road to an intersection labeled Boathouse Road or State Game Farm. Turn left or north, and follow the gravel road to the parking area.

OR: Take I55 to I80. Head east, or toward Toledo. Follow the directions below for I80.

From I80: Look for exit 132, State Route 53 and Chicago Street. At the end of the ramp (both eastbound and westbound), turn right or south. Travel south on State Route 53, also known as Historic Route 66, for approximately 15 miles -- past the race tracks, the town of Elwood, and Prairie Creek grain company. The SO will be on the left or east side of the highway. Continue approximately 1.0 mile further south on State Route 53 to the intersection with New River Road. Turn right or west, and travel approximately 2 miles on New River Road to an intersection labeled Boathouse Road or State Game Farm. Turn right or north, and follow the gravel road to the parking area.

From I57: Look for exit 327, Peotone. From the northbound ramp, turn left or west. From the southbound ramp, turn right or west. Travel approximately 15 miles on the Wilmington-Peotone Road to the lighted intersection at State Route 53. Turn right or north, and travel approximately 1 mile to the intersection with New River Road. Turn left or west on to New River Road, following the signs for I55. Travel approximately 2 miles on New River Road to an intersection labeled Boathouse Road or State Game Farm. Turn right or north, and follow the gravel road to the parking area.