The Friends of the Cache River Wetlands have provided support for a number of efforts to protect, restore and enhance the natural wonders of the Cache, including restoration of forest and wetland habitat, river bank stabilization, construction of visitor facilities and improvement of nesting habitat for migratory birds.
As part of our education and outreach mission, the Friends sponsor a signature event, Nature Fest, which annually attracts 1,200 to 1,500 attendees and features free guided hikes and canoe tours, exhibits and films, educational presentations, live wildlife exhibits, and nature games and activities for the whole family. We work to promote the Cache, not only as a resource to be protected and cherished, but as a place where people can enjoy hiking, birding, kayaking and canoeing, hunting, fishing, photography and learning more about the natural environment.
KIDS TO THE CACHE
Help give local kids the chance to canoe the Cache River, visit thousand-year-old cypress trees, have close encounters with great blue herons and bird-voiced tree frogs, learn about southern Illinois’ rich natural and human history at the Cache River Wetlands Center, and much more!
KIDS TO THE CACHE, sponsored by Friends of the Cache River Watershed, provides $250 grants each year to assist public schools in southern Illinois that are bringing student groups on field trips to the Cache River State Natural Area and Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Funds may be used to help cover costs of the field trip to the Cache, or for related classroom expenses.
Grants will be awarded in the fall and the spring. The annual submission deadline for fall field trips is September 1 and for spring field trips is February 1. A teacher or school may apply for both fall and spring, but must submit two separate applications. If you have questions please contact [email protected]
CACHE RIVER AUTOTOUR
When French Voyageurs first came upon the umber waters of the Cache more than 200 years ago, they named the river with the French word for “hidden” – and, indeed, the Cache River is still a hidden treasure today. One could easily spend a lifetime exploring and discovering the natural wonders of these woods and wetlands. But, if you only have a weekend, or even a few hours, the CACHE RIVER AUTO TOUR is designed to showcase the area’s highlights and whet your appetite for a return visit!
A detailed map features 12 stops that represent some of the best the Cache has to offer. Site descriptions written by nature authors Michael Jeffords and Susan Post, based on their many years of personal exploration, provide a wealth of information about the unique plants, animals, insects, landscape features and seasonal sights and sounds to be experienced at each stop. Suggested itineraries are provided, depending on how much time you have to spend and the level of activity desired.
Free copies of the CACHE RIVER AUTO TOUR map and brochure are now available at the Cache River Wetlands Center and the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge Office.
POLLINATOR INTERPRETIVE TRAIL
Assisted by a grant from The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Cache River Watershed developed the Pollinator Interpretive Trail at the Cache River Wetlands Center. In the spring and summer of 2016, the concrete path behind the Wetlands Center was transformed by the addition of 12 demonstration/research garden plots featuring plants beneficial to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
Each of the eight-by-four-foot, semi-circular gardens illustrates a single concept that can be duplicated by educators or in home gardens. Some aim to attract a specific type of pollinator, including hummingbirds, mason bees, leaf cutter bees, sphinx moths and monarch butterflies. Others are organized around themes such as low-maintenance plants or later blooming flowers that provide sustenance for pollinators migrating south in the fall.
In 2017, permanent interpretive signage and other educational materials are being developed for the Pollinator Interpretive Trail. Several of the less successful garden plots will be reworked, and others enhanced. The project is supervised by entomologist Michael Jeffords, and the gardens are designed, implemented and maintained by volunteers. Participating organizations include the Metropolis Garden Club, Southern Illinois Master Naturalists, Tupelo Wild Ones, Fort Massac Naturalists and Southernwood Gardens of Alto Pass, Illinois.
More volunteers are always welcome: if interested, contact Lorie Allen at [email protected].