Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is located 25 miles northwest of Springfield, Illinois. This, one of the state?s largest sites, consists of a mosaic of mature forest land on agricultural land and grassland, dissected by Panther and Cox creeks and their tributaries. The site also contains a rare hill prairie. The area was settled and farmed by the mid-1800s. The contiguous farmsteads that composed Jim Edgar Panther Creek were purchased from 1968-1974 by Commonwealth Edison for development of a coal-fired, electric-power generating plant and a 5,000-acre cooling lake. The company named the 16,550-acre tract Site M for nearby Menard County where coal was harvested. In the 1980s, Commonwealth Edison abandoned its plans to build a power plant at Site M, citing decreased electrical demands, and offered the land for sale. With funds specifically designated for conservation, the State of Illinois added the acreage to the public trust in June 1993, making Site M the largest tract ever acquired by the State.
Grasslands at the site provide habitat for breeding Henslow's Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Grasshopper Sparrow and Dickcissel among others. Orchard Orioles and other avian species breed in shrubby areas, while woodlands attract 11 warbler species to nest.
Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Harrier and Red-shouldered Hawk have been observed using the area for foraging, roosting and possibly nesting.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for breeding Yellow-breasted Chat and Dickcissel.
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is characterized by rolling to steeply rolling uplands. It includes 4,200 acres of crop land and 6,500 acres of forest, with the balance being native grasslands, lakes, wetlands, shrubby fields, habitat corridoors and idle farmland.