Forest Service continues work on trail projects
In an effort to provide mission critical and essential services despite the historic pandemic, USDA Forest Service staff are continuing to work on projects with a goal of protecting the health of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois, along with improving recreation sites.
Significant work is being done on trail projects, including removal of obsolete signage in the Lusk Creek Wilderness, new trail re-routes in the Jackson Falls area, staining and sealing the boardwalk and benches at Garden of the Gods, and cleaning up increased trash at Pounds Hollow, Rim Rock, Iron Furnace, and Garden of the Gods.
Shawnee National Forest staff members have already noticed the impact from increased visiting.
Although work continues to be done, limited staffing does not allow work to continue at the same pace, the Forest Service said in a news release.
As the weather gets warmer and more Southern Illinois residents get out to hike and hunt, the Forest Service asks everyone to “remember to please pack out everything you packed in.”
The Forest Service encourages the public “to follow all Leave No Trace principles. You can find out more about Leave No Trace at www.lnt.org. Significant trash or damage to the areas could delay reopening.”
As visitors continue to visit the forest in large groups,or pack into already crowded trails, the Shawnee National Forest urges everyone “to follow local and state stay-at-home guidelines, practice social distancing and keep community members, forest employees and fellow outdoor enthusiasts safe.”
To protect public health and safety, all visitors to the forest are encouraged to:
Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the forest.
Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.
Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors.
If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.
The Forest Service continues to assess and temporarily suspend access to recreation areas that attract large crowds and cannot meet social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.
For up-to-date information about the Shawnee National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee.