Clinton Lake State Recreation Area contains 9,300-acres and is three miles east of Clinton in central Illinois. The 10-square-mile manmade lake is surrounded by several state-owned fish and wildlife areas including Mascoutin State Recreation Area.
The Illinois Power Company owns much of the Clinton Lake shoreline as well as some upland areas nearby. The State of Illinois has operated the park since 1978 through a long-term lease with the utility company.
Before settlers arrived to what is now Clinton Lake, the land consisted mostly of upland prairie and bottomland deciduous forest. Historians believe the area likely was the site of small villages and hunting camps of tribes of the Illini Confederacy. Kickapoo also likely were in the area until the 1820s.
The first permanent European-born settlers came to the area in the 1830s. Many of them came from Kentucky and Tennessee and farmed the land. Most of the area had been used as pasture or cropland at the time construction of the 4,900-acre lake began in the 1970s.
Clinton Lake itself has attracted 25 species of waterfowl including American Black Duck and American Wigeon in one day as well as five species of grebe and two species of loon. In one season, well over 10,000 waterfowl migrants will stop to feed and rest here. In additon, large populations of migratory shorebirds use the shallow areas, while myriad terns and gulls including some rarities find plenty of fish upon which to feed.
The surrounding vegetation (consisting of trees and shrubs a well as some fields and grasslands) offers habitat for migratory sparrows, warblers, grosbeaks, and other landbirds. Pine and cedar plantations attract wintering Long-eared and Northern Saw-whet Owls.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for Waterfowl.