May 1, 2018
Photo by Michael R. Jeffords

Kinkaid Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area Federal Aid Provides Wildlife Food and Cover Management

By Kathy Andrews Wright

In this series we examine Illinois state sites benefiting from sportsmen’s contributions through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson or PR) program. One of the largest, and longest running, projects is the Statewide Public Lands Wildlife Habitat Development Project (W-76-D), designed to create wildlife habitat on public lands, provide facility access and recreation opportunities, and establish wildlife management demonstration areas for Illinois citizens.

Kinkaid Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, located in Jackson County, is somewhat unique among state properties as it is one of the sites where no agricultural leases exist, and therefore, no income is derived to assist in supporting a wildlife management program. At Kinkaid Lake, the sole source for on-the-ground wildlife enhancement projects is the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program, and specifically the Statewide Public Lands Wildlife Habitat Development Project, or W-76-D.

A Bobwhite quail stretching its wing and leg.
Photo by Michael R. Jeffords

Federal aid funding is used to cover a variety of expenses, from seed, herbicide, fertilizer and gravel to hunter sign-in boxes, contractual services and programmatic coding of time spent managing habitats.

“While much of the property is mature deciduous and pine forests, the focus of the W-76-D effort at Kinkaid Lake is working to maintain open habitats,” explained recently retired Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) District Wildlife Biologist Rich Whitton. “Our efforts focus on maintaining early succession grasslands and native grasses by strip disking and prescribed burning, and creation of small food plots throughout the complex through rotational planting of soybean, milo, corn, wheat and Egyptian wheat. The goal of the work at Kinkaid Lake is to create quality brood rearing, nesting and wintering habitats for bobwhite quail and grassland birds.”

Populations of bobwhite quail, once an abundant game bird across the Illinois agricultural landscape, began a dramatic decline in the 1970s due to changes in land use and farming practices.

A chart indicating Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report for the 2016–2017 Season. The chart is organized by animal.

IDNR staff works in partnership with the Kinkaid Lake Conservancy District on the long-term project to create permanent cover on former agricultural fields. The goal is to create one 40- to 50-foot wide food strip every 40 acres, locating strips adjacent to the one created the previous year to maximize plant diversity. Strips rotate on a three- to four-year basis, and are designed in a manner that minimizes soil erosion.

“Development of these sites provides good demonstration areas for private landowners to see how they can convert areas to permanent cover that benefits wildlife,” Whitton said of the Jackson County project. “It provides a first-hand experience of seeing how contour strips work, and the benefits of using mowing, selective herbicides and burning to retard woody succession.”

Hunting at Kinkaid Lake

Statewide regulations govern hunting at the site.

Available Game Species

Species available are deer, turkey, squirrel, furbearers, quail, rabbit, dove, woodcock and waterfowl.

Hunter Fact Sheet

About the Site

152 Cinder Hill Drive, Murphysboro, IL 62966

(618) 684-2867

County: Jackson


map of illinois indicating location of Kinkaid Lake


Directions: Kinkaid Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is located in Jackson County on the north side of Route 149, approximately 2 miles west of Murphysboro. From the junction of Routes 13, 127 and 149, take Route 149 west 2 miles to the entrance of Lake Murphysboro State Park/Kinkaid Lake. From Route 3, take 149 east approximately 5 miles to the entrance of Lake Murphysboro State Park/Kinkaid Lake.

Kathy Andrews Wright is retired from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources where she was editor of Outdoor Illinois magazine. She is currently the editor of Outdoor Illinois Wildlife Journal and Illinois Audubon magazine.


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