LaRue-Pine Hills, located near the towns of Anna and Jonesboro in southern Illinois, is an eastern extension of the Ozark Hills region of southern Illinois. This 2,585-acre portion of the Shawnee National Forest contains large stands of oaks, hickories, beeches, tuliptrees and a remnant population of native shortleaf pine. The dense understory consists of dogwoods, pawpaws and spicebushes among other shrubs.More than 1,300 types of flowering plants grow here, more than any other comparable site in the Midwest. This very large and diverse area has high-quality natural communities found on the bluffs and in the bottomlands. A swampy bottomland forest contains habitat for 37 rare plants and animals. The state has dedicated 140 acres of LaRue Swamp as an Illinois State Nature Preserve. In addition, LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond has been named a national Research Natural Area. The U.S. Forest Service has designated RNAs throughout the nation to be permanently protected and maintained in natural condition. These protected natural areas include unique ecosystems or ecological features; rare or sensitive species of plants and animals and their habitat; and/or high-quality examples of widespread ecosystems.
La-Rue Pine Hills provides habitat for declining neotropical migrant breeding species, including large numbers of Worm-eating, Yellow-throated, Prothonotary and Kentucky Warblers, Northern Parula and Louisiana Waterthrush. Myriad other neotropical migrant breeders here include Acadian, Willow and Great Crested Flycatchers; Whip-poor-will; Yellow-billed Cuckoo; White-eyed, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrush; Blue-winged, Black-and-white, Cerulean and Hooded Warblers; American Redstart; Ovenbird; Summer and Scarlet Tanagers; Orchard and Baltimore Orioles.
Other breeding species include Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Pied-billed Grebe, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Least Bittern, Fish Crow, Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-headed Woodpecker, Wood Duck and Wild Turkey
Barred Owls and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are common breeders at this ecological area.
LaRue is heavily used by large numbers of migratory songbirds, especially neotropical migrants.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for breeding Kentucky Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler.
This 2,585-acre portion of the Shawnee National Forest contains large stands of oaks, hickories, beeches, tuliptrees and a remnant population of native shortleaf pine along with dogwood, pawpaw and spicebush. Plant communities are representative of shrub swamps, aquatic and terrestrial caves, flatwoods and springs.