In recognition of the United Nations designation of 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity, the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition and The Rock River Times presents this bi-weekly series to help readers discover the amazing array of plants and animals in the rivers, prairies and woodlands “in our own back yard.” FREC is an alliance of 35 member organizations “dedicated to educating and advocating for the plants, animals, natural resources and ecosystems of the Four Rivers Region.” Please visit fourriver.org.
By Richie Wolf
Superintendent of Education and Recreation, Byron Forest Preserve
Situated 3 miles south of Oregon, Ill., along the Rock River, Lowden-Miller State Forest provides excellent deer and turkey habitat on its 2,291 acres. Hunting, hiking, cross-country skiing and equestrian trails are available. I, personally, have enjoyed Lowden-Miller as a hiker, hunter and mushroom collector. The hiking is easy, as trails are marked, and maps are made available along the way. Parking lots are many and spacious.
Deer hunting opportunities are plentiful and offered first-come, first-served to archers with a limit of hunters that is regulated at any one time.
For shotgun season, a drawing is held through the Department of Natural Resources; once successful hunters leave the woods, a waiting list is established so most who want to hunt get the opportunity.
As far as mushroom hunting goes, there are plenty of chances to collect delicious morels. However, please be aware that the woods are closed to all hikers in the mornings during turkey season. In the afternoon, hunters are gone, so that’s the time to search under the dead elms and grape vines for your prizes.
Lowden-Miller State Forest is a gem to visit with pine plantations, hardwoods and wetlands full of wonderful wildlife. I have often visited parts of this park as part of the Ogle County bird count in May. Some of the species we’ve counted include pileated woodpeckers, prairie warblers, woodcock, barred owl and wood pewee.
A variety of interesting points also exist within the park boundaries, including Sinnissippi Tree Farm and the Lowden Boy Scout Camp. These two private properties have fascinating histories that have brought thousands of visitors to this area to experience some of what Lowden-Miller State Forest has to offer.
From the Nov. 10-16, 2010 issue