St. Joseph Wetland
The St. Joseph Wetland project is located on both sides of US 150 on the west edge of St. Joseph. In 1999 the property owners (2) were approached to determine if they would be interested in selling their property to the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) to have it restored. They agreed and an application was made to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the C2000 program to obtain funding to make the purchase. The CCSWCD Board wanted the project to be a place where residents could enjoy the wetland and students could learn wetland ecology.
The application was submitted and funding was provided for the purchase of the property and some of the restoration expenses. The process moved slowly and the final purchase was on February 16th, 2005. The land (67 acres) is now owned by the CCSWCD with a conservation easement held by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. A plan for development for the north side of the road was developed with several scrapes and 2 ponds that contain water control structures to control the water level in the ponds. This will provide an area for wet prairie plants on the site.
Through the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the CCSWCD installed several additions to the wetland in 2022: an informational sign honoring Kenneth Kesler, a longtime director and supporter of the District; pavers featuring names of donors through the years; and a pair of binoculars to allow visitors to get a closer view of the wetland's diverse flora and fauna.
On the southern 27 acres, a variety of trees and shrubs (oak, hickory, cypress, dogwood, winterberry, buttonbush, and elderberry) were planted in the winter of 2018 to restore the area back to a forested wetland. An additional 100 trees were replanted in the area during the fall of 2022. This work was done in partnership with Bruce Stikkers of Lincoln Heritage RC&D and Magnolia Land Partners, LLC.
Many individuals contributed time and money to this restoration project. Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation provided funds for educational signs. The amenities were purchased through a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and Magnolia Land Partners, LLC is a strong financial supporter as well. The CCSWCD is very grateful to everyone for their past, current, and future support.