The 5,820 acres comprising Ten Mile Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area were purchased in 1988. Approximately one third of the site had been strip mined for coal. These areas, all within Jefferson County, have been reclaimed to varying degrees resulting in some areas being returned to flat agriculture land and others to steeply sloped areas with many ponds and lakes. The remainder of the site, which was not mined, is a mixture of fields and forest bisected by small streams.
The site is divided into four management units, each consisting of a main area and smaller scattered tracts. Of these, the Eads Unit (1,550 acres) is located southwest of the town of Belle Rive, and over 80% of this unit had been mined, which has left a steep and rugged terrain containing many spoil ridges. Vegetation has been established to stabilize the soil and provide cover for wildlife. Next, the Belle Rive Unit (1,460 acres) is located east of Belle Rive, of which nearly 60% had been strip mined. However, reclamation efforts have resulted in a more even terrain including seven lakes. In addition, this unit is bisected by Auxier Creek, and the bottomland areas have not been mined.
Of the management units located in Hamilton County, both contain similar terrain with a level to rolling topography covered by a mixture of farm fields and forest. The Dahlgren Unit (1,120 acres) lies south of the village of Dahlgren, and it is bisected by the Big Creek watershed. This unit contains both upland and bottomland forest with small ponds in various locations. The Goshen Trail Unit (1,690 acres) is located four miles west of McLeansboro and contains a portion of the Ten Mile Creek watershed.
The composition of Ten Mile Creek SFWA includes the habitat types of cropland (2,600 acres), open non-cultivated areas (1,640 acres), forest (1,330 acres), and water (250 acres). Portions of the cropland are enrolled in a tenant lease program to provide wildlife food and cover, and to maintain the fields in an open condition. Crop rotations include corn, soybeans, wheat, grass-legume seedlings, and one or more years of idle to conserve the soil and allow wildlife nesting to occur. The open, non-cultivated areas are mostly mined with succession occurring to various degrees. Some locations are mainly grassland, while others are being invaded by brush and trees.
The forested areas consist of many small woodlots, forested corridors, and fence rows. The largest wooded area is nearly 100 acres in size. The composition of species depends on the location of the forest, and includes various oaks, hickories, elm, cherry, cottonwood, willow, ash, and other species. In addition, old field and pasture areas contain such species as sassafras and persimmon.
Of the water areas, there are 25 strip pit lakes ranging from 3 to 45 acres in size, located in the Eads and Belle Rive Units, which offer the opportunity for boating and fishing. Depths of these lakes can reach over 30 feet. Furthermore, small farm ponds are scattered over the Dahlgren and Goshen Trail Units to provide wildlife water sources, soil erosion control, and fishing opportunities.
Ten Mile Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area is located on IL Rt. 14 east of Benton, IL From I-57, take exit #71 (Benton) and travel east on IL Rt. 14 a distance of 18 miles to the site office located on the north side of the highway.