Important Bird Areas

Burning Star Mine

Illinois

The approximately 8,000-acre INDR CONSOL Energy Burning Star 5 Wildlife Area site includes about 3,000 acres of
upland and wetland habitats and 1,600 acres of unmined forested corridor associated with the Little Muddy River. Surface coal extraction at the Burning Star 5 mine primarily occurred during the Post-
Law (>May 3 1978) period of federal reclamation requirements which emphasized replacement of
row crop acreage and restoration of pre-mine agricultural capability and productivity. Therefore,
current land use is characterized by ~42% (3,400 acres) of the property supporting row crop agriculture
(~1,640 acre reclaimed rowcrop, 1,760 acres unmined rowcrop) (Figure 1). Non agricultural land
uses include cool and warm season grasses (800 acres, 10% ) reforestation (480 acres, 6 %), deep
water impoundments (250 acres, 3%), shallow water wetlands and open water wetlands, (220 acres, 3
%). Overall, the mosaic of unmined habitats associated with the reclaimed croplands and adjacent
grasslands and shrublands, forest, and wetland habitats have provide a unique assemblage of diverse
habitats with excellent potential for avian conservation and fish and wildlife habitat.

Ornithological Summary

This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for concentrations of waterfowl and as a wintering area for Trumpeter Swans.

Conservation Issues

Some threats include potential reduction or lack of land management, erosive areas forming from
agricultural production, disturbnaces to birds from exotic Mute Swan nesting, and disturbances to birds from humans in swan roost areas.

Current site owner (CONSOL Energy) is responsible for current land use policy.
Should CONSOL decide to sell any of, or the entire site to private individuals, or land
developers, the integrity of this large tract of diverse habitat will be severely
compromised. Potential site development could threaten the use by eagles and
wintering swans. Grassland bird/shrubland bird utilization could be impacted by
future management that neglects to maintain a successional continuum of grassland /
shrubland habitats.

Ownership

A Conservation Easement area (@ 640 acres) developed by IDNR in cooperation with
CONSOL Energy was identified in 1985 (finalized ca 2007) to preserve and protect a
reclaimed wetland complex (~ 220 ac) and the adjacent upland buffer. The remainder
of the site is privately owned (CONSOL Energy)

Habitat

The interspersed agriculture, forest, wetland, and grassland shrubland habitats support
abundant game and furbearer species such quail, rabbit, turkey, deer, squirrel, raccoon,
possum, coyote, bobcat, river otter, mink, muskrat, and beaver. The state threatened
rice rat has also been live- trapped in the robust emergent wetland habitats.

In addition to restoration of prime farmland soils, reclamation also emphasized the
development of deep water impoundments and shallow water wetlands. The deep
water wetlands provide secure winter roosting/loafing areas for the trumpeter and
tundra swans as well as 20,000 ? 30,000 wintering geese and ducks. Intermittent and
seasonally inundated emergent wetlands provide nesting habitat for least bitterns.
Summer drawdowns in the shallow wetlands have provided excellent foraging sites
for the resident bald eagles to prey upon stranded fish. Riparian woodlands support a
local rookery for great blue herons . The grasslands (warm season and cool season)
attract migrant northern harriers, short-eared owls, sandhill cranes, and resident
Henslow?s sparrows.

Land Use

About 640 acres are part of a conservation easement. Another 43% of the site is maintained for row crops. Hunting is permitted throughout a large portion of the site. Most of the remaining acreage is either undeveloped or reclaimed mine land.