CHICAGO — One of the two places where you can legally hunt in Chicago — William W. Powers State Recreation Area — is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
Nestled on Chicago's far southeast side, the state recreation area that's part of Wolf Lake is 580 acres, of which 419 are water. Those 419 watered acres are where hunters 16 and older can shoot waterfowl during the fall from a series of 16 blinds — the season is currently closed and dates for the 2017-18 hunting season haven't been set.
The state acquired the 160-acre recreation area in 1947, which was known then as Wolf Lake State Recreation Area. In 1965, the Legislature approved changing the name to honor the memory of William W. Powers, a former state legislator who was known for promoting recreation to the residents of his district, according to Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Edward Cross.
Powers also was a Chicago alderman in the 1920s who used the site for picnics to feed people during the Great Depression.
Cross said the recreation area is frequented by about 500,000 visitors annually. Most come for the fishing — Wolf Lake is filled with bass, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, bullhead, carp, walleye, muskie, perch and lake sturgeon — and picnics, Cross said.
"From the fantastic fishing at Wolf Lake, to the duck hunting possibilities in the fall, as well as beautiful scenery, there's something for everyone to enjoy," Cross said.
Cross said Wolf Lake straddles the Illinois and Indiana state line between 120th and 134th streets. The park road on the east side runs parallel to the Indiana state line.
Monk parakeets that are routinely found in Hyde Park and elsewhere in the city also head to the Powers recreation area. The site also has endangered birds like the black-crowned night hero and yellow-headed blackbird, and three types of swans. Powers visitors also can see coyotes, deer, muskrats, beavers, snakes and lizards.
Lake Calumet, which is west of Wolf Lake, is Chicago's other legal hunting spot, according to WBEZ.