The Wetlands Center was completed in November 2004 and is a high-quality destination point that fosters natural resources appreciation and education, while interpreting the unique natural and cultural history of the Cache River Wetlands. The center is named for Henry N. Barkhausen, who served as Director for the Illinois Department of Conservation from 1970-73, and for 18 years served as Secretary of the Citizens Committee to Save the Cache River. He worked to encourage government agencies, organizations and residents to protect and restore the natural character of the Cache Wetlands.
The Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center is now open to the public five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, closed Monday and Tuesday. There is a 2,000 square foot exhibit area, a 725 square foot audio visual room, and a wildlife viewing area looking over a wetland created on the east side of the building.
The Center, owned and operated by IDNR, is supported by the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy. Here, visitors may acquire information on agency partners, recreation opportunities, and habitat restoration work currently underway. Visitors are invited to explore the unique cultural and natural history of the Cache River watershed along a time-line in the exhibits. This time line is full of fascinating artifact exhibits, has a video screen with five perspectives of the Cache watershed, and audio sticks with local oral history. A twelve-minute orientation video gives a good overview of the cultural and natural history of the watershed, explaining the unique bio-diversity of the flora and fauna that live here. Visitors may acquaint themselves with the local flora and fauna through an interactive diorama of a wetland, two interactive touch screens featuring images of the Cache and migratory birds, state champion tree information, and changing landscape displays.
The Center grounds offer a 2,600 foot handicap accessible hiking trail which has a wildlife viewing mound overlooking a re-established wetland along the old bed of Cypress Creek. Animals, their tracks, scat, and other signs are prevalent in this habitat. Your explorations of the Cache River Wetlands Center will help the local natural areas seem more alive. Please, ask the knowledgeable cache River or other Joint Venture staff about information on hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, and canoeing opportunities in the area!
The Center is also the beginning or the terminus of a bike ride or walk on the Tunnel Hill State Trail which extends 48 miles to Harrisburg, Illinois, and is part of the Rails to Trails system. A trip to the Tunnel Hill office I visitors center, will color your biking experience with the culture, history, and the distant sound of a train whistle as you bike over the changing landscape with swamps, upland hills, train trestles, and a tunnel built in 1872. To contact the Wetlands Center call 618-657-2064, Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The Wetlands Center is located at 8885 State Route 37 South, Cypress, Illinois 62923, two miles north of the intersection of State Route 169 and 37; nine miles south of the intersection of State Route 146 and 37.