Located in Putnam County, two miles north of Hennepin on Putnam County Highway 1, the Donnelley /DePue State Fish and Wildlife Areas complex consists of 3,015 acres. Frank C. Bellrose, world-renowned waterfowl expert, has designated this area, the Great Bend, as the entry point to the lower Illinois River valley, an important North American waterfowl migration corridor. Various wetland habitats here serve as critical space for migratory waterfowl.
The complex attracts breeding wading birds including Great Blue Heron.
Within the complex is the Miller-Anderson Woods Nature Preserve, an Illinois dedicated preserve and George S. Memorial Park owned and managed by the Putnam County Conservation District for nature study.
In 1982, the complex became a state wildlife area through the gifts and efforts of Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley. Various organizations such as the State of Illinois and Ducks Unlimited fund and manage portions of the complex.
Besides providing a place for migratory waterfowl to rest and feed, Donnelley and Lake DePue State Fish and Wildlife Areas support large populations of breeding wading birds, including Great Blue Heron. Seven-hundred-sixty-seven Great Blue Herons were documented in 2000 in a nesting colony.
Bald Eagles also use the region for migration and wintering.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for Wading Birds.
The area contains high levels of heavy metal contaminants. Potential threats include the possibility of toxic spills/pollution from boats and disturbance of wildlife from recreation.
These state fish and wildlife areas contain mostly flat floodplains and back-water sloughs. Plant communities present represent wet floodplain forest, marsh-emergent wetland, managed moist-soil units, agricultural land, and open water habitats.