The Nature Conservancy Emiquon Preserve
State Rt. 78/97 , Lewistown, IL 61542
Outside of the Florida Everglades, the nearly 7,000-acre TNC Emiquon Preserve represents one of the largest riparian floodplain restoration projects in the country. Before it was drained and put into agricultural production in 1921, the Emiquon area's Thompson Lake was the largest bottomland lake in the entire Illinois River Valley. Now, after more than 80 years of cultivation, Thompson Lake, its nearby sibling Flag Lake, and their associated prairies and hardwood forests are being restored. Documented descriptions of the Thompson/Flag Lake area stretch as far back as 1687 when elements of LaSalle's expedition visited the site. Dr. Charles Kofoid not only described the area but studied it in great detail during the late 1800s, before it was converted to agricultural use. Now, scientists have detailed pre-conversion information from which to draw upon as they set about restoring the site to its original ecology.