Facility Rules and Policies

All refuge land and water is open to public access in accordance with refuge regulations from sunrise to sunset for approved public use activities from February 1 to October 15. On October 16 of each year, portions of the refuge close for waterfowl sanctuary and remained closed until January 31. Trail access and wildlife viewing platforms along the east side of the refuge remain open during the sanctuary period. Pets must be on a leash unless engaged in hunting.

Refuge Access

All refuge land is open to public access in accordance with these refuge regulations. The nature trails are open throughout the year.

October 16 to January 31: The refuge is closed for waterfowl sanctuary; however foot access is permitted in the bank fishing areas. Please see the refuge specific fishing regulations below for more information.

February 1 to October 15: The refuge is accessible by foot, bicycle and boat. No swimming allowed. Refuge lands are open for public use activities from sunrise to sunset, except as noted during hunting season.

  • Sport fishing is permitted from bank, boat or ice on all refuge waters from February 1 to October 15 and CLOSED October 16 to January 31 during temporary waterfowl sanctuary as posted.
  • Bank fishing is permitted between the boat ramp and the Cross-dike parking lot in the North Pool and from Goofy Ridge parking lot to water control structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

    Learn more about structure
    throughout the year. 
  • Trotline and jug fishing is permitted.
  • All fishing equipment must be removed from the refuge daily.
  • The use of bow and crossbow for fishing is prohibited.
  • Public hunting area is closed to fishing during the waterfowl hunting season.
  • Refuge and State of Illinois regulations apply.
  • October 16 to January 31: Melz Slough Area closed as posted. 
  • Waterfowl hunting is only permitted outside the main dike in the Liverpool Lake section and north of the entrance to the north ditch known as Goofy Ridge Ditch in accordance with refuge and State of Illinois regulations.
  • Hunting access is permitted from one hour before legal sunrise until 1/2 hour after legal sunset.
  • Access to hunting area is by river only. Boat launches are available on the Illinois River at Havana and Liverpool.
  • The construction or use of permanent blinds is prohibited. All hunting aids must be removed at the end of each day's hunt.
  • Approved, non-toxic shot must be used while hunting waterfowl.
  • All migratory bird hunting on the refuge closes in accordance with published State waterfowl seasons.
  • Refuge hunting is not open for the conservation order light goose season.
Motorized Vehicle / Watercraft Access
  • Licensed motor vehicles are permitted in existing parking areas only.
  • Off-road vehicle use, including ATVs and UTVs, are prohibited.
  • The refuge permits canoes, kayaks, and motorized boats at no wake speed on all refuge waters within the north and south pools located inside the perimeter levees. We prohibit leaving boats on refuge waters overnight.
  • The possession or consumption of alcohol is prohibited.
Wildlife Observation
  • Wildlife observation is permitted in all areas from February 1 to October 15. Wildlife may be observed on all nature trails throughout the year.
Nut, Berry and Mushroom Picking
  • Nut, berry and mushroom picking is permitted for personal use only.
Camping / Fires
  • Camping, overnight use of the refuge, fires and fireworks are prohibited.