The Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area, located 15 miles northeast of Salem in Marion County, was originally only 20 acres with a two-acre pond being the only water available. Since that time in 1959, additions have been made which bring the total current park area to 3,103 acres. Of this total, 1,150 acres are forests of oak and hickory which surround a large lake. The lake was completed in 1963 and has 18 miles of shoreline. The area is named for natural scientist, Stephen Alfred Forbes, whose contributions in the field of biology, make him world renowned. His prolific scientific publications, over 400 titles, are still used extensively in the study of aquatic biology, ornithology, ichthyology, and ecology.
Sam Parr Biological Station: In 1966, a building especially designed for use as an aquatic research center was completed below the dam. This facility is used by the Illinois Natural History Survey and includes a laboratory, accommodations for graduate students and 26 drainable ponds. A variety of aquatic biology and fisheries experiments are conducted year-round. The lab is open to visitors Monday through Friday. Tours can be arranged by calling the lab at 618-245-6348.