Located in Alexander County just east of Illinois Route 3 seven miles north of Cairo, the 10,200 acre area includes a 2,400 acre shallow lake. In addition to taking in the beauty of the natural features of the area, visitors enjoy picnicking, camping, boating, fishing and hunting. The first 49 acres of the park were purchased by the Department of Conservation in 1927 for development as a Canada Goose sanctuary. Additional tracts of land, including Horseshoe Island, continued to be purchased to create the State Fish & Wildlife Area that greets visitors today. Canada geese began wintering at the site in 1928. The original 1,000 birds increased to a population of more than 40,000 by 1944. Today, up to 150,000 Canada geese winter at the site, thanks to improved refuge management and harvest controls.