Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area
The Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area is a 4,100-acre (1,700 ha) state park owned and operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). It is located in Saline County, five miles west of the small city of Harrisburg.
The fish and wildlife area is made up of former bituminous coal properties strip-mined by the Sahara Coal Company. The park currently consists of approximately 2,300 acres of open space, 1,500 acres of timber and brush, and 275 acres of lakes, ponds, and wetlands. The IDNR describes the topography of the parcel as "a former surface mine which consists of spoil ridges interspersed with timber, grasslands, small ponds and a large lake."
After shutting down the mine in 1993, Sahara Coal donated the land making up the mine to the state of Illinois in 1999. Remediation work continues. The park was partly opened to deer hunters in 2003. As of 2017, the park continues to be managed for hunting purposes, with archery deer, dove, quail, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, and various fur-bearing small game availabilities. Permits and licenses are required. Efforts are being made to redevelop portions of the state tract for off-road vehicle (ORV) recreational use. In November 2017, IDNR announced the successful conclusion of a $1.2 million grant application to assist in the construction of a 26-mile (42 km) ORV trail network. The spoil ridges left behind by the former coal-mining shovels were judged by the United States Department of Transportation to be highly suitable for ORV-oriented redevelopment as part of the nationwide Recreational Trails Program.
- "Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
- "Sahara Woods Property Open for Archery Deer Hunting". BigGameHunt.net. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
- Cartmell, Nicole (November 15, 2017). "New off-road trail coming to southern Illinois". KFVS-TV. Cape Girardeau. Retrieved November 16, 2017.