Madison – Madison County | 5,500 acres
Type: Natural Area
Owned by: Illinois Department of Natural Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers, City of Madison
Hours: Open Sunrise to Sunset
Location and Directions: One mile west of Granite City in Madison County. The state property is located in three parcels west of the Chain of Rocks canal and adjoining the Mississippi River. Federal property is located on both sides of the Chain of Rocks Canal with additional parcels extending north to the Lewis and Clark Park and south of Interstate 270.
Facilities: The natural areas of the site are primarily managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Horseshoe Lake Office and the US Army Corps of Engineers Rivers Project Office. See contact information below for each.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
3321 Highway 111, Granite City, IL 62040
US Army Corps of Engineers, Rivers Project Office
301 Riverlands Way, West Alton, MO 63386
A series of three islands – Chouteau, Gabaret, and Mosenthein – is uniquely situated in the Mississippi River just minutes north of downtown St. Louis. These islands are collectively known as Chouteau Island. The 10-mile length of Mississippi River that borders Chouteau Island to the west is the only natural stretch of river without barge traffic between St. Paul and New Orleans. This section of river is a very high-quality habitat, but also at high risk. Chouteau Island is one of the few locations in the St. Louis Region with direct public access to the Mississippi River for recreation.
Combined, all these islands provide wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, and flood storage on over 5,500 acres. This site has a fulcrum of historic river infrastructure – a one-of-kind 1-mile pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River managed by Great Rivers Greenway. The pedestrian bridge connects Illinoiss and Missouri’s system of trails. All these opportunities are positioned in the middle of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.
In 2001, working in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Trust for Public Land, and The McKnight Foundation, HeartLands Conservancy was able to assist in acquiring all available remaining private interests in Gabaret and Mosenthein Islands. These two islands, which represent 2,000 acres, are a major component of the overall Chouteau Island complex. The islands are owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
In 2004, with funding provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, HeartLands Conservancy was able to acquire an additional 94 acres on Chouteau Island, which has been deeded to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for long-term ownership and management.