Tuesday, May 25

Rocky Bluff Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventures in Southern Illinois," we feature Rocky Bluff trail in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. This trail was previously described in the April, 2006, Shawnee Newsletter but was not posted to the website. Parking in this refuge requires a Crab Orchard $2 sticker, Golden Age or Golden Eagle pass. Stickers may be obtained at the office on Rt 148 south of rt 13, or at Devil's lake concessionaire (open in late spring).

Directions: From Carbondale, take Giant City Road several miles and look for Grassy Road. Turn left and drive 5 miles to the sign for Devil's Kitchen Lake. Turn right, and go to the "t" junction. Turn left, follow across the bridge to the parking area. For those coming from the south, take I-57 to Rt 148 exit. Turn west and travel approx 5 miles and Grassy Road is next to a utility substation and general store.

At the trailhead, note that this is a loop trail-go either way for 1.8 miles. Nice overlook over the canyon at the start. The tread on this trail is excellent and easy to moderate. Also note several benches to rest. We will take the top segment of the trail. The trail starts thru a pine plantation. At 0.18, note a connecting trail to make a short loop. Our trail continues gradually uphill for 0.29 and comes to a junction. Turn left onto this old road. Go 0.26 on this road to a junction with Turkey Trail and Rocky Bluff. Turn left again. Now we have frequent views into deep ravines (especially during leafoff). Note a cliff line on the right down in the valley. We will make a sharp descent on waterbars. The trail then ascends with more ravine views and a mess of downfalls from the May, 2009, wind storm.

Now we descend down stair steps and a handrail to a cliff line which continues for the rest of the loop. This line averages about 10-20 ft high and a creek parallels us on the right. Note the small cave and overhang. Near the end, note the circular cliff canyon and waterfall. The trail ascends to the trailhead via stair steps and handrail. GPS coordinates could not be found but for a reference to topo map USGS 1:24000 Crab Orchard lake. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or robkay43@webtv.net.

Friday, May 7

Wetland Blitz

Volunteers Needed to Inventory Wetlands in Southern Illinois

The Sierra Club is hosting a Wetland ID Blitz on Sat. June 5 from 9 am - 2 pm. The Blitz is part of a Sierra Club Water Sentinels and Ducks Unlimited partnership to update the National Wetland Inventory for Illinois. Meet at Longbranch Coffee House at 100 East Jackson Street, Carbondale, IL. Bring your digital camera and download cord. We'll train you and send you out to visit 8-10 wetlands in Jackson County. Then we'll meet back together to download photos and compile collected data over lunch. If you do not have a camera, don't let that be a reason not to participate. RSVP to Terri Treacy at terri.treacy@sierraclub.org or at 618-521-1030 by June 1.
We also need inventories done in other southern Illinois counties. So, if you’re interested in working in another county, please consider coming to the June 5 event in Jackson County to get trained and we’ll set you up with the materials you’ll need to work in the other counties on your own.

Project Background - The Wetland Blitz event is for volunteers wishing to visit wetlands in Illinois to help with the field verification for an update of the state's inventory of wetlands. Volunteers trained at the Jackson County Wetland Blitz will be qualified to gather inventory
data independently in counties throughout southern Illinois. Ducks Unlimited (DU) has received an Illinois State Wildlife Grant to update the National Wetlands Inventory for Illinois. For additional information on this project, see http://www.ducks.org/Conservation/GLARO/3752/GISNWIUpdate.html.

Using aerial photographs, DU is currently tracking the fate of wetlands included in Illinois' inventory from the 1980's. To check the accuracy of the photo review, a random 2% of the identified wetlands will require field verification. It is estimated that 6000 wetlands throughout Illinois will need to be visited during 2009 and 2010 to complete the inventory. Volunteers will
be trained to recognize different classes of wetlands. Wetlands which need a field verification will be located close to a road to minimize access issues. A sheet with a map to the site and an aerial photo will be provided on which the type of wetland or its conversion to agriculture, recreation or development will be indicated. Volunteers will also be asked to take and provide a digital photo of the wetland.

Volunteers interested in helping with this important wetland protection project are asked to RSVP to Terri Treacy, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter Conservation Field Staff at terri.treacy@sierraclub.org.