Northwest Illinois falls within the Illinois ecosystem division known as the Driftless Area. The Driftless Area extends into Southwest Wisconsin, Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota. This area is resource rich and serves as a haven for all things natural.
Missed by the glaciers of the last Ice Age, the Pleistocene glaciation, the area is now known by Illinoisians for its rugged terrain. The driftless area is now a mosaic of high bluffs, steep ravines, narrow canyons, sand dunes, springs and cliffs. As a result of having so much geologic diversity, the area has many micro-ecosystems that support a wide variety of flora and fauna. Another contributing factor to this diversity is the fact that this region is not densely populated; therefore, it can harbor rare plants, mammals, birds, and insects.
Interesting Facts about the Illinois Driftless Area
• The entire area is considered as “Resource Rich,” a tough designation given by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
• 42% of Illinois native flora exists here, in an area that encompasses only 1.7% of the total land area 40% of the area is grassland, which is the most of any area in the state
• The Driftless Area hosts 271 bird species and 43% of the states threatened and endangered birds 55 plants occurring here are state endangered and 11 are state threatened
• 17 plants are only found in the Driftless Area
• This area hosts the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), Western Hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), River Otter (Lontra canadensis) and 8 species of bats
• Half of the region has a slope of more than 7%
• Nowhere in the state is the bedrock so high or so close to the surface
• The highest point in Illinois is located here (Charles Mound – 1,246 feet)
• JoDaviess County is the coldest and darkest county in Illinois
• There are 22.4 miles of streams considered “biologically significant” by the IDNR
• In 1820 there were 142,309 acres of prairie; today there are 48.3 acres remaining
Driftless Area Maps