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give way to a unique landscape where the Appalachian mountains meet the Ozark hills and Louisiana swamps meet the northern

prairie. Centuries-old petroglyphs attest to the presence of native Americans. Living in out-of-the-way towns are passers-through who stopped and decided to stay, as well as natives who seldom have ventured far from home. Students from the SIUC School of Journalism have prepared a multimedia report on the sights, sounds and people of Illinois’ hidden gem.

Front cover: Canadian geese fly over Little Grassy Lake as the sunset paints the sky one early February evening. Photo by Bobby Samat

Back cover: A spider rests on a flowering golden alexander plant in Bell Smith Springs. Photo by Claudette Roulo

THE SHAWNEE FOREST: Illinois’ hidden gem

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n the Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois, flat cornfields

The Shawnee Forest

Illinois’ hidden gem

A Report by the Students of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale


The Shawnee Forest:

Illinois’ Hidden Gem


Professors for The Shawnee Project: William Recktenwald, Phil Greer, Anita Stoner and William Freivogel Graphic Designer & Production Manager: Claudette Roulo Copy Editor: Allison Petty Special thanks for the generous financial support of the Howard R. Long Opportunity Fund established by SIUC alumna Judith Roales. Thanks also for the support of the dean of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts, Gary Kolb, and for the scientific knowledge of plant biologist Dr. Dan Nickrent. The Shawnee Project School of Journalism Mailcode 6601 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale, IL 62901 Š 2009 by the School of Journalism, SIUC. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without

permission in writing from the publisher. ISBN 978-0-615-31396-2


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ucked away in southern Illinois is a landscape of natural beauty as surprising as it is special. The Shawnee National Forest, created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939, spans roughly 284,000 acres of lush forest, swamps, bluffs, steep hills, rivers and wetlands.

llinois is known as the Prairie State, but the glaciers that created the prairie never made it to southern Illinois. Stopping just short of the Shawnee, the glaciers melted, with the runoff creating the magnificent bluffs and canyons. Swamps from the south, prairie plants from the west, Appalachian flora from the east and glacial remains from the north meet there. The area is home to more than 500 vertebrate animal species and more than 1,500 plant species, as well as dozens of sites with rich historical significance. It provides opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, horseback riding and camping, and it attracts characters as unique as the terrain. Yet the region’s treasures remain relatively unexplored.

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or three semesters, students of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale reported on the flora, fauna, geology, history and people of the forest and its environs. They found a biker who opened a root beer saloon, a transplanted Chicago couple who took over an old-fashioned general store and a retired postmistress who had spent almost all of her life within a few miles of her country home. The following pages, along with the companion web site, offer a glimpse of what can be found in Illinois’ hidden gem.


Title page: Camel Rock is perhaps the most well-known of the sandstone formations in the Garden of the Gods. An image of Camel Rock will represent the Shawnee National Forest on the Illinois version of the ‘America the Beautiful’ quarter coin, due to be issued in 2016. Photo by Bobby Samat


Table of Contents The American dream

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A lifetime in the forest

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Tecumseh: Chief of the Shawnee

11

Tall tales on tap

12

The Civilian Conservation Corps: Men on a mission

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National Natural Landmarks

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Spring

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Summer

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Fall

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Winter

50

What lies beneath

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The Shawnee: Where Appalachian hills meet Louisana swamps

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Ancient art, modern explorers

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Connecting two rivers

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All creatures great and small

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Legal battles in the Shawnee

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The Shawnee Forest on the Web

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Ozark

The American dream Story by Brandon Weisenberger Photos by Ryan Rendleman

Far right: The Ozark General Store in Ozark, Ill. Below: Mitrevski tends to a customer.

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hile one of his signature ham and cheese sandwiches sizzled on the griddle, Alex Mitrevski looked up as the bell on the door signaled the arrival of another customer. “Hi, Laurie,” Mitrevski said, using a free hand to offer a wave to one of the regulars at the Ozark General Store. Mitrevski’s nasal tone suggested he is not from these parts. “Can I buy a tomato?” Laurie asked before blowing into her cupped hands. It was cold this early February morning. Mitrevski slid the ham and cheese sandwich onto a glass plate, handed it to a hungry patron, then headed over to his produce container. He reached in for a ripe tomato that sat on a shelf with various fresh vegetables. Assorted cheeses

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and deli meats were on shelves above the greens. Mitrevski bagged the tomato, pecked his cash register buttons and asked Laurie about her family as she waited for her change. Then he sent her on a way with a hearty “see you soon.” Just when it seemed the morning rush was at an end, Mitrevski — attempting to sit for a cup of coffee with his customers — had to put downtime on hold as the phone rang. The caller identification read “out of area.” Mitrevski expected it to be an automated operator on the other end of the line. “I don’t need to talk to computers today,” he scoffed before putting the phone back on the counter. That just wouldn’t fit into Mitrevski’s ideal life in Ozark, a small unincorporated community in Johnson County on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. Mitrevski, 37, has everything he needs here and is far from requiring the help of a robotic salesman. He has his general

store, a healthy crop of regulars and a wife to go home to on a 50-acre piece of land surrounded by unadulterated nature. It all takes place in the land of the Shawnee National Forest, a region that Mitrevski considers one of the nation’s most beautiful spots. But while he calls southern Illinois home, his distinctive accent marks him as a recent arrival to the area. In fact, Mitrevski hails from a western suburb of Chicago in DuPage County. He spent his life dealing with the rush of big


Left: Mitrevski cleans up following the morning rush. Below: Ham and bread slices sizzle on the grill. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches are the store’s signature dish.

city living and made money by keeping the bright lights running as a journeyman electrician. Mitrevski, however, always had a love for the outdoors and rural settings. Fishing and hiking held more allure than traffic jams and skyscrapers. hen he met his wife, Tracy, who had roots in southern Illinois, Mitrevski had plenty of opportunities to visit places such as the Shawnee. The couple eventually bought a cabin downstate for vacations, then decided to

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become permanent residents. Tracy, an entrepreneur in hospitality with a dislike for the word “no,” said she came across the Ozark General Store — a business that had been around for nearly 100 years — and asked the owners to sell it to her. They were initially reluctant, but after Tracy threatened to open up shop down the road, they changed their minds. The couple moved from up north to down south in summer 2006. Since then, the establishment has blossomed. It’s a gas station, grocery store, restaurant

and coffee shop all rolled into one, with plans in the works for expansion. There’s nothing else like it in the vicinity. To passersby, the store might seem a bit out of place. Homes are located to the north and south and across the street to the east. Its west side back door leads into a large horse pasture where a lone horse grazes. Despite the rugged surroundings, the Ozark’s interior is anything but disheveled. The floors are clean, the shelves neatly stocked and the only recognizable sound,

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Right: Customers drink coffee and socialize as they wait for their breakfast order to arrive on an early February morning.

besides Mitrevski’s bustling behind the counter and the conversation of the loyal patrons, is the dull buzz of four refrigerators. Two eight-point bucks mounted on the west wall are the store’s unofficial mascots. Longtime Johnson County resident Doug Cross is among the many regulars who stop in many mornings for a cup

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of coffee and good conversation. “We talk politics, we talk hunting, we talk life and everything in between,” said Cross, who used to perform daredevil motorcycle stunts in the area. “It’s kind of like a barbershop in that it’s sort of a social hub. I’m sure there’s just as much B.S. said here as at a barbershop, too.” The store, similar to most small-town businesses in the Shawnee National Forest region, relies heavily on dedicated local regulars to stay afloat. But it’s the seasonal tourists who open the economic spigot and create a decent cash flow for these businesses. The Ozark General Store hosts a steady stream of rock climbers, either en route to a site or in search of a hot meal between climbs. itrevski said he sees many return visitors from across the country who are drawn to the hot ham and cheese sandwiches and his own special style of barbecue. This area is also home to Camp Ondessonk, a Catholic youth camp. The camp is a healthy source of customers, as kids and their families flood the store

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throughout the summer. Mitrevski said it’s common for a line to form outside the store during the busiest days of the warm season. While tourism dollars allow Mitrevski to make a comfortable living and set his sights on expansion — more seating and a self-service car wash are possibilities — he said the faces he sees almost every day and the relationships he has built in the past two years make life worthwhile. “I like my loafers,” Mitrevski said of the customers who aren’t afraid to buy a coffee and early morning bite to eat and then shoot the breeze in the store for hours on end. Regulars include a crew of locals — many of them lifelong Ozark residents — whom Mitrevski considers the faculty of the “University of Ozark.” They congregate around what has been dubbed “The Table of Knowledge” to discuss, in-depth, whatever subject arises. Mitrevski’s favorite morning ritual involves listening in on the conversation or sitting down to chew the fat when business comes to a lull. “It’s amazing what you’ll learn,” he said. One thing Mitrevski has learned is that southern Illinois is the place he wants to spend his life. Mitrevski was initially skeptical about leaving his comfortable life in DuPage County to risk everything on a smalltown general store. But he says things have worked out for the best for him and his wife and he doesn’t miss life in the “concrete jungle.” “Some people are enthralled when they see the buildings of Chicago,” he said. “I’m amazed when I see a woodpecker.” To read more about the Ozark General Store, please visit the people section of the Shawnee Forest Web site at www.shawneeforest.net


Karbers Ridge

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elna Dobbs, 78, lives in a small white house in Karbers Ridge with her dog Barney. But Velna is not alone. Her sons live nearby, her weekends are filled with grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and her mind is full of a lifetime’s memories. In an age of iPods, MySpace, and American Idol, consider this woman who grew up in the farmhouse where she was born, who was educated in a one-room schoolhouse, and who raised chickens and hens for a living until she was 28. She does not reject the digital age; she has a computer complete with high-speed Internet. However, she claims it is mostly for her granddaughter to use when she visits. The granddaughter even located Barney, Velna’s Bichon Frise, on the Internet. Inside Velna’s house, several televisions run simultaneously. Dr. Phil advises in the kitchen, while soap operas drone on in the living room. The sound drowns out Barney’s yelp and the sound of the occasional passing car.

Story and Photos by Julia Rendleman

“I have it on for the noise, I guess you’d say,” Velna says. A police scanner sits on the end table next to her couch in the living room. She pays close attention to the chatter and

learns where the ambulance is headed before anyone else in Karbers Ridge. She has listened to the county sheriff rescue lost hikers from the Shawnee National Forest and knew her neighbor was getting pulled

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Left: Velna Dobbs stands on the road outside her home in Karbers Ridge. Velna’s attitude towards the road reflects the “roadside culture” that existed in Karbers Ridge in the years before the road was paved. In those days, the road doubled as the town square.

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Above: Brass “Double Eagle” mailboxes line the walls of the Karbers Ridge post office, a tiny building barely the size of a single car garage. Velna bought the mailboxes at auction in 1971 for $571. Right: Fallen apples carpet the yard at Velna Dobbs’ home on the ridge.

over for speeding before the deputy turned on the red lights. Velna knits and crochets blankets and baby clothes, especially in the winter when she cannot be outside in her garden. Knitting is a family tradition that has been passed down through seven generations. This is the house where Velna and her husband raised their family. The house is full of memories, some good, some bad. elna Ozee married Jessie T. “Tommy” Dobbs on May 16th, 1949 at 18. Tommy was about 15 years older than Velna. Within a year of their wedding, Velna and Tommy were parents. They lived on a farm and spent each day together working side-by-side caring for the animals and crops. Velna recalls those days as her happiest. Velna was appointed Postmaster of Karbers Ridge, zip code 62955, in 1961 and served for 30 years. She still owns the post office building and rents it to the U.S. Postal Service. Velna’s mailbox is #214. She still knows which box belongs to whom. Velna says she enjoyed the responsibility and independence of her job. People would stop by

V To view a multimedia presentation or read more about Velna Dobbs, please visit the Shawnee Forest Web site at www. shawneeforest.net

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just to talk with her, “even if they didn’t have any mail coming.” A few years after Velna became postmistress and Tommy had started work in the mines, Tommy decided the farm was too much work for Velna and they bought their house “on the ridge.” Their marriage ended abruptly on the day before Velna’s 37th birthday, March 14, 1968, when Tommy was killed in a fluorspar mining accident. He was the lone casualty of a careless mining mishap. “He was my best friend,” she said, “we had done everything together. The undertaker said his funeral was the biggest he’s ever seen on account of he was so well liked.” Velna visits Tommy’s grave in Leamington Cemetery at least once a month. She shares these stories of death without sorrow. “God has a way of working things out for the best,” she said.

The home on the ridge is surrounded by flowerbeds of mums, moonflowers, angel trumpets, and marigolds that engulf her small house and have even been known to stop traffic. The lone apple tree in Velna’s backyard provides more fruit than Velna can manage. As apples fall from the tree, the bees and hummingbirds get their chance to suck the sweet juice from the rotting fruit. “I love to bake,” Velna said, “It’s nice to be able to feed hungry people.” Velna makes upwards of 40 pies in two days every October. They are thin, buttery creations with latticework tops and a dark brown, heavily-cinnamonned filling of apples grown in the company of hummingbirds. “I have visited a few places,” she said. “But I am always happy to be back here, this is home.”


Tecumseh: Chief of the Shawnee T Story and Photo by Jake Lockard

he Shawnee National Forest takes its name from the Shawnee Indians. Purchased as two separate units of land in the early 1930s, it was declared a natural conservation area by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in September 1939. The Shawnee tribe had a long history in Southern Illinois. The Shawnee lived in “Shawnee towns,” which could be found anywhere from Northern Ohio to the convergence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers at the southern tip of Illinois. Tecumseh, Chief of the Shawnee, was part of the Indian resistance until his death in Canada at the battle of Thames in 1813. John Sugden, author of the book “Tecumseh,” saw the legendary chief’s death as the closing chapter in the era during which Indians were fighting to decide the future of North American lands. “With his defeat an era in Indian history­­ ­­— the period during which the tribes had helped decide the fate of great international powers struggling to possess North America — came to an end. Yet such was the impression Tecumseh made, upon grateful friends, beaten allies, and victorious enemies alike, that he lived on in folklore, story, and rhyme, at home and overseas, and became one of the most legendary figures of the American past,” Sugden wrote. Tecumseh’s goal was to unite the Indians of North America from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. He believed that all Indians were in danger of losing their lands and cultures to the encroaching white settlers, and should unite to fight them off. Planning an Indian confederation was no easy task because Indians were divided by culture and language, and were politically

decentralized. On his quest for unity, Tecumseh used a bundle of green sticks to represent the strength of his proposed Indian confederation. You can break one stick but you cannot break the bundle. Tecumseh is recognized by many Native Americans as the most outgoing of the handful of Indian chiefs who dreamt of an Indian Confederation capable of setting aside intertribal indifference and resisting white expansion. Today, a life-size, full bronze statue of Tecumseh stands tall in the Shawnee Forest largely because of the efforts of local historian and conservationist John O’Dell. “The Shawnee had a long history in Southern Illinois,” O’Dell said. “We wanted to do something to commemorate the Shawnee and to get people interested.” “When we started reading about it, Tecumseh had an untold story,” O’Dell said. The sculpture, in the Saline County Conservation Area, is the only bronze monument ever made of the chief. A lot of planning went into the sculpture. O’Dell said he was in contact with Don Greenfeather, a descendent of the Shawnee, for advice as the sculpture was being crafted. “I would call Don Greenfeather and say, ‘I want you to take a look at this statue and tell us if there’s something wrong,’” O’Dell said.

“He said the most important thing is ‘don’t have Plains Indian moccasins, have centerseam moccasins.’” O’Dell worked with artist Tom Allen to make sure that the sculpture was as historically accurate as possible. “We told the artist that we wanted him posed like a statesman,” O’Dell said. “That’s why he has the blanket on him, that’s the posture of a diplomat.” The sculpture was also given a bundle of sticks and the possessions of a hunter, including a tomahawk and hunting knife. “The tomahawk is a peace pipe that you could smoke as well,” O’Dell said. “If you wanted to declare peace, you take your tomahawk and stick it in the ground and then you smoke it. That was burying the hatchet.”

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Alto Pass

Root beer and tall tales on tap M

Story by Joseph Rehana

Right: The Root Beer Saloon occupies two buildings on the historic Alto Pass, Ill., boardwalk. Photo by Jason Johnson

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ichael Blank’s face becomes animated as he talks about where he has been and what he has done — especially when the stories involve a bit of mischief. Blank, who owns a root beer saloon located in the remote hills of the Shawnee National Forest, has no shortage of mischievous tales. The Chicago native left home at 16 and rode a motorcycle to Venice Beach, Calif., but that was just the beginning of his adventures. He has traveled from Jamaica to India to Spain, lived all over the country and crafted custom guitars for rockers such as Ted Nugent. On a motorcycle trip to Michigan’s upper peninsula, Blank found the inspiration for a root beer saloon. “I stopped at this interesting bar…and noticed they had a tap that read ‘Sprecher.’ It was root beer.” Blank and his girlfriend, Cynthia Lucas, now run the Northwest Passage & Root Beer Saloon in Alto Pass, Ill., population 385. The restaurant serves a steady stream of interesting characters despite its smalltown atmosphere. “It’s a mixed bag,” Blank said of his

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customers. “Yesterday, it was craziness — people from everywhere. Last weekend, it was craziness — people from everywhere. Different countries, different states, different cities; some country, some city, some for atmosphere, some for food, root beer, ice cream...It’s a mixed bag.” The restaurant’s décor is as eclectic as

its customers. Blank and Lucas fill it with items they have collected, including rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, a stuffed mountain goat, a python skin, an 18-pound lobster mounted behind the bar, nearly 200 sets of horns and antlers, a cigar store Indian, antique guns and a ceiling full of ducks Blank shot and stuffed himself.


The interior also includes taxidermied game fish, a giant statue of King Tut and a Michael Garman diorama of New York tenements from the 1930s. As the saloon’s Web site puts it, there is “so much more it boggles the eye and the mind.” The menu ranges from sandwiches to smoked salmon to key lime pie, and even includes the “Elvis Special” — a honey, peanut butter and banana sandwich. And

then there’s the root beer: several microbrewed draft varieties such as Sprecher, Goose Island and Fitz. Blank enjoys regaling customers for hours with stories and prides himself on the many eccentricities of his establishment. “We’re not a Dairy Queen,” he said. “It’s our place and we like to do things our way.”

Above: Michael Blank, owner of the Root Beer Saloon in Alto Pass, tells one of his many stories about owning a popular lunch spot on the wine trail that wanders across southern Illinois and through the Shawnee National Forest. Photo by Julia Rendleman

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Giant City

The Civilian Conservation Corps: Men on a mission T Story by Kathy Carlson

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he Civilian Conservation Corps was born of the anguish of the Great Depression. With 25 percent of American workers unemployed, the nation desperately needed a force to fight against poverty. In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt marched in with the CCC. The Corps helped to make the rolling hills and hollows of the Shawnee National Forest what they are today. Earl Dickey, a spry and jovial 93-year-old

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resident of Makanda, was one of the men who marched as a member of Camp 692, stationed at Giant City State Park. “I was out of high school and you couldn’t buy a job…and I heard that they were taking applications for the three C’s. A fellow and I hopped on a train and took it over to Fairfield and I signed up for the three C’s and hopped a train back,” Dickey said. “The CCC didn’t just build roads and bridges like most people think,” said Bob Martin, a 32-year veteran of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “They built trails, built lodges and cabins, fought fires, fixed creek embankments for erosion purposes and they planted a couple million pines in the Shawnee alone.” The Shawnee Forest was not always covered in pines and hardwood trees. Most of the land was exhausted farmland. In the 1930s, much of the woodland had been either logged or plagued by forest fires. This loss of vegetation led to soil erosion. With the soil wearing away, even small rains could form gullies, diminish farmland and damage the water supply. In March 1933, the National Forest

Reservation Commission approved the purchase of two units containing forest and exhausted farmland in southern


Left: Giant City Lodge as it appears today. Photo by Sarah Bowman. Below: The Giant City Lodge dedication ceremony. Photo courtesy of Giant City State Park Civilian Conservation Corps collection, 1933-1942, Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Illinois: The Illini Unit, near the Mississippi River, which held 304,840 acres, and the Shawnee Unit, along the Ohio River, which contained 291,392 acres. The acreage was expanded with the addition of the Dixon Springs Soil Conservation Service Project, another 9,864 acres. All three were transferred to the Forest Service in 1939. At the time, the newlycreated Shawnee National Forest Purchase Unit contained 786,607 acres within its boundary and 184,539 acres were government-owned. Today, the federal government holds title to nearly 284,000 acres. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, the CCC planted pine trees in the Shawnee to prevent erosion and help rebuild the topsoil. “There were camps all over the Shawnee Forest. While the two biggest ones were at Giant City and Trail of Tears State Forest, which used to be Camp Union, there were camps in Murphysboro, by Shawneetown, all over really,” Martin said.

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ome camps would focus on soil conservation, some on drainage issues and others would do state park work, but all were on a mission to take charge of natural resources. Dickey was assigned several jobs during his 26-month stay at Giant City; he built roads, fixed septic tanks and worked on landscaping. “Around the curves on this main road going down to the park area down here and going down and around to Makanda, you will see rock walls,” Dickey said. “And they are not cemented; they are just laid in there. And they are just like we laid them over 75 years ago. And those rocks were just gathered out of the hills by the boys.” At Giant City, roads were constructed and six cabins and a lodge were built at the highest point in the park. When Giant City Lodge was completed in 1936, thousands gathered to hear the Illinois governor, Henry Horner, speak.

At the time of the dedication, the lodge consisted of six overnight cabins and the main lodge building. Six additional cabins were added shortly afterward, along with a dining room and concession stand. At first glance, Giant City Lodge looks nearly the same today as it did when the CCC finished construction in 1939. Since then, however, a great deal of work has taken place. The original cabins--which were not furnished with running water or electricity--were remodeled and modernized in 1946. A second dining room was added in 1958 and a third in 1969. In 1985 the original 12 cabins were taken down and 12 new cabins were built in exactly the same style as the old ones, down to the furnishings. The dining room added in 1958, known as the Bald Knob Room, was removed and an expanded dining room replaced it. Twenty-two new cabins were also added to the park along with a swimming pool.

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Opposite, far left: Earl Dickey, 93, of Makanda served in the CCC. Photo by Julia Rendleman Opposite, right: A statue honoring the men of the CCC stands in the courtyard of Giant City Lodge. Photo by Sarah Bowman.

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Right: Civilian Conservation Corps workers assemble the roof trusses over the main lounge of Giant City Lodge. The lounge area is two stories high and features a fireplace, gift shop and multiple seating areas. Photo courtesy of Giant City State Park Civilian Conservation Corps collection, 1933-1942, Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

In addition to beautifying the Shawnee, the CCC had an immediate economic impact. Supplies such as food, stone, lumber, trucks, axes, shovels, and clothing were all required to outfit “the boys.” Each man also earned a $30 monthly stipend for his work; of that, $25 had to be sent home. “It was a good experience because you learned how to work, you had to learn

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to take care of your expenses. Some of the boys would send home and get some of their money sent back and I never did do that,” Dickey said. “I bought a 50 cent iron … and I would press shirts. The khaki shirts had creases down in front and three creases in the back, and I would charge a nickel for that. And I would press their pants, ten cents. I made enough to pay my

train fare home. I went once a month.” The men were given three meals a day, medical and dental care, and were given the option to be taught how to read, write and obtain vocational training. A typical day began with breakfast at 6 a.m., and the men would head off to work by 7:45 a.m. When the workday ended at 4 p.m., they could then receive training.


Left: The interior of Giant City Lodge as it appears today. Completed in 1936, the lodge was constructed of multihued sandstone and white oak timbers collected from the surrounding forest. The Bald Knob dining room first opened in 1938, serving T-bone steaks for 85 cents and lobster for $1.75. Today the restaurant is famous for its family style all-you-can-eat fried chicken dinner. Photo by Sarah Bowman

The men would play baseball or other sports at camp. On weekends, they would ride a bus to go to church, pick up necessities in town, visit with friends, or go dancing. The popularity of the CCC program was confirmed by the high rate of reenlistment and new applicants. In Illinois alone, there were an average of 54 camps

running from 1934 to 1941 with an average total of 165,347 men employed. After the Second World War began in December 1941, camps not contributing to the war effort were closed, and by September 1942, all enrollees had been dismissed and sent home. Many of the camps were then used by the military as training schools; others were dismantled

and reassembled on military bases. Dickey never joined the military. Instead he went to college and became a minister, retiring from the Methodist Church after nearly 41 years. To see more historic and current images of Giant City Lodge, please visit the history section of the Shawnee Forest Web site at www.shawneeforest.net

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National Natural Landmarks Story by Claudette Roulo Photos by Bobby Samat

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he National Natural Landmarks program was established in 1962 to recognize and encourage the conservation of outstanding examples of the United States’ natural history. The Secretary of the Interior designates the landmarks, and to date fewer than 600 sites have been designated. Of those 600, eight are located within or very near the Shawnee National Forest. The Little Grand Canyon Area was des-

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ignated as a National Natural Landmark in February of 1980. It consists of a series of steep valleys and a single main canyon carved by a tributary of the Big Muddy River. A well-marked trail winds 3.5 miles through the canyon and along the cliffs that tower overhead. The trail offers some spectacular views of numerous waterfalls, sandstone rock formations, and breathtaking vistas - one of which gives you a view of Fountain Bluff, the Big Muddy River, and even the Mississippi River on a very clear day. Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Natural Area holds the largest remaining and northernmost tupelo-cypress swamp in Illinois. The state natural area in which it lies was carved out by glacial floodwaters that left behind the meandering Cache River. The Upper Cache feeds into Heron Pond, supporting ancient cypress trees and wildly diverse animal life. The area is best accessed on foot, as fallen trees and bank erosion make canoeing next to impossible. The Lower Cache River Swamp is also known as Bottomland Swamp. The swamp is fed by the Lower Cache and, in con-

trast to Heron Pond, features wide-open expanses of deep water spread across a broad floodplain between the towns of Karnak and Ullin. There are a few stands of ancient cypress trees dotted through the swamp, and tupelo and buttonbush thickets occur in shallow areas. Six miles of canoe trails wind through this area, and paddlers will pass by the state champion bald cypress tree. LaRue-Pine Hills Ecological Area is well known amongst herpetologists as the site of the biannual snake migration. It is also considered “one of the finest assemblages of diverse vegetation in the Midwest,” by the National Park Service. Steep bluffs, dry and mesic forests, prairies, swamps and ponds all meet within a roughly threesquare mile area. Bell Smith Springs’ eight miles of interconnected trails take hikers past sharply dissected sandstone formations with fanciful names like “Devil’s Backbone.” The longest natural bridge within the Shawnee National Forest is found within Bell Smith Springs, spanning 125 feet. Just east of Eddyville, Ill., is Lusk Creek Canyon. Many rare plants thrive within


Opposite: The bluffs at LaRue-Pine Hills. Far left: A bald cypress surrounded by cypress knees at Horseshoe Lake. Above: The cliffs of Lusk Creek Canyon. Left: Bald cypress trunks at Heron Pond.

the canyon’s cool depths, including 13 species of orchids. Ten endangered or threatened Illinois plant species are also found within the canyon, which was carved out of lower Pennsylvanian sandstone by erosive processes like mass wasting and undercutting. One of a cluster of National Natural

Landmarks designated in Illinois during 1972, Horseshoe Lake Nature Preserve is first and foremost a sanctuary for Canada geese. Approximately 150,000 geese winter at the site, up from 1,000 in 1928 when the park first opened. Bald cypress trees line the edges of the lake, a cutoff meander loop of the Mississippi River.

Giant City Ecological Area is named for its unusual sandstone formations, which were said to resemble streets and buildings to early settlers. Hiking and equestrian trails thread through the park, but traffic through the “city” is limited to pedestrians.

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Right: Larry “Snake� Wallace reflects on days past at his cabin in the Shawnee Forest. Wallace has owned the land since he was 20 years old. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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Opposite: Ashley Wakefield of Olney, Ill., pauses during work on the Ranbarger Trail in the Shawnee near Bald Knob. Above: Forest service volunteers bring a log to an erosion-damaged section of the Ranbarger Trail. Students from Southern Illinois University spent spring break building erosion control steps on a former wagon trail now used by recreational horseback riders. Left: Kamilah Banks of Chicago fills in a stair tread during reconstruction of a heavily-damaged trail section.

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Martin Emerson, 7, of Carmel, Ind., holds an oil beetle he discovered during a bluebell hike in northern Pope County. Bluebells blossom from March to May and are abundant in the woodlands of southern Illinois. Photo by Emily Sunblade

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Left: New leaves start out curled up into “fiddleheads” on a Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) growing in the Shawnee near Makanda. Photo by Bruno Maestrini Below: A hiker photographs Virginia bluebells carpeting the forest floor during a bluebell hike in northern Pope County. Photo by Emily Sunblade

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ycologist Joe McFarland cleans a yellow morel during a mushroom hunt in the Shawnee National Forest near Makanda, Ill. Morel hunters like to keep the location of their hunting grounds a tightly guarded secret, especially from other mushroom hunters. “There are thousands of morel hunters. It’s amazing how they just come crawling out of the woodwork in late March and early April,” McFarland said. “Morels are notoriously difficult to spot. They blend in with the leaves so well that just because you don’t see a morel at first glance, doesn’t mean there are not morels in that spot.”

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orel season varies from region to region, but is generally in the early spring. In southern Illinois the most common morel is the yellow morel. False morels closely resemble their namesakes, but are generally solid inside rather than hollow as shown above. The net-like “cells” visible in the cap of the yellow morel at left, further distinguish it from false morels, which have a more wrinked appearance without clearly defined cells. False morels can be toxic, while true morels are safe when fully cooked. “Basically what everybody wants to know about mushrooms is, ‘Will this kill me?’ or ‘Is it edible?’” McFarland said.

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ald Knob Cross stands at the top of a hill and at the center of controversy. Rising 111 ft. from the top of Bald Knob, a 1030 ft. hill near Alto Pass, Ill., the cross was completed in 1963. Easter services have been held regularly at the site since 1937. Their popularity led Union County resident Wayman Presley to begin collecting donations to purchase the land and build what was thought to be the western hemisphere’s largest cross. Over time, the cross fell into disrepair and divisions formed among local Christian groups. On Christmas Eve, 2008, a settlement was reached and repairs on the cross began in early 2009 when the outer panels were removed in preparation for ongoing restoration work. The site remains open to visitors.

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very April for 17 years the dull rumble of motorcycle engines has echoed through trees lining the winding country road leading to the base of the Bald Knob Cross. Bikers come from across the Midwest for the annual Blessing of the Bikes, taking part in impromptu prayer circles led by members of the Christian Motorcyclists’ Association. The day-long event has grown from a few dozen riders to more than 5,000 in 2009. “Most people won’t darken the door of a church, but they won’t ride without their bike blessed,” said Jim Davis, co-founder of the Blessing of the Bikes.

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Summer

Right: Cody Crowder of Harrisburg, Ill., leaps off of a bluff and into the cool water below at Bell Smith Springs in the Shawnee National Forest. Photo by Jake Lockard

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ruits of labor, in the literal sense, are found on the vines and in the vats of the 12 wineries nestled along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in southern Illinois. Wineries dot the Shawnee’s undulating hills from Pomona to Cobden to Lick Creek. But the Shawnee National Forest provides area enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs with more than just a landscape — it is also home to the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area, a federal designation recognizing the region’s distinct grape-growing properties. Caleb Wilson, cellar master at Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda, Ill., said he produces nine varieties on 12 acres of gently rolling hill country. The art of winemaking is both meticulous and rewarding, he said. “It’s why cooks cook.”

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Above: Cellar master Caleb Wilson of Blue Sky Vineyard prepares to clean a tank lid while another tank fills with a final filtration of Mysterioso, a popular wine. Left: A dark wine has stained one of the 43 barrels stored in the cellar at Blue Sky Vineyard.

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Above: Female red-winged blackbirds gather at dusk in a wheat field near the Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir in Jackson County. Photo by Claudette Roulo Right: Frontal clouds over Little Grassy Lake are illuminated by the sunset. Photo by Bobby Samat Opposite: Katherine Accettura of Springfield, Ill., crosses the Pomona Natural Bridge near Pomona, Ill. A dirt trail leads through a mature hickory and beech forest to the 90-foot-long bridge, which is suspended 25 feet above a small creek. Photo by Bobby Samat

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Nate Kingery of Ramsey, Ill., places a piece of gear on a trad climbing route at Giant City State Park. Trad, or traditional, climbers place their gear while climbing and then remove it when they’re finished. Since permanent anchors aren’t permitted in Giant City, trad and free climbing are the only styles allowed in the park. There are thousands of climbing routes in the whole of the Shawnee.

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Above: Amy Ensign of Vernon Hills, Ill., works her way up a route called Greg’s Chicken Shack at Jackson Falls. Left: Joe Batir of Channahon, Ill., gives his full attention to a climber as he acts as belayer, removing slack from the rope to ensure the climber can’t fall far, on a route at Jackson Falls.

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Above: Scenic vistas in the Garden of the Gods Wilderness attract artists, campers and hikers from across the country. The area, located southeast of Harrisburg, Ill., covers more than 3,000 acres and features dramatic sandstone formations. Photo by Bobby Samat Opposite: Martin Dubbs of Dover, Pa., stands in Hawk’s Cave, a 150-foot-long shelter bluff in Ferne Clyffe State Park. Shelter bluffs are formed when flowing water erodes the base of a cliff, leaving an overhanging rock face. There are several shelter bluffs in the Shawnee, including Ox Lot Cave in Rim Rock Recreation Area near Pounds Hollow and Sand Cave south of Harrisburg. Photo by Claudette Roulo

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Fall

Right: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) leaves display their fall colors at Bell Smith Springs. Photo by Mike Skelnik

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Right: A sugar maple leaf rests on a rock after falling from its home in the canopy above the creek bed in Little Grand Canyon recreation area. October is the ideal time for viewing fall colors in the Shawnee. Below: Leaves from an American beech (Fagus grandifolia) are warmed by the fleeting rays of a sunset in early November in Little Grand Canyon. Photos by Emily Sunblade

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Left: Early fall in Bell Smith Springs. Photo by Mike Skelnik Above: Overlooking a creek from a bridge along the Tunnel Hill trail. Photo by Julie Crook

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Black maple (Acer nigrum) leaves in Hunting Branch Creek, Bell Smith Springs. Black maple trees are closely related to sugar maples. The leaves are edible, and the trees are often tapped for syrup production. Photo by Claudette Roulo

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Left: Concentric rings, called Liesegang rings, form in iron-rich rocks in the Garden of the Gods through erosion. Photo by Glenn Rooney Below: Sunset at Pharaoh Campground, Garden of the Gods. Photo by Stephen Rickerl

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Opposite Page: Lumpy Bracket (Trametes gibbosa) grows on a fallen log in the Shawnee National Forest near Eddyville, Ill. The green banding is caused by algal growth. Photo by Kyle Hogendorp Left: The Devil’s Backbone in Bell Smith Springs. Photo by Mike Skelnik Above: Griffin Cemetery in Pope County. In 1855 William P. Griffin bought 200 acres from the state. The land is now part of the Shawnee and Bell Smith Springs. His descendants maintain the cemetery. Photo by Emily Sunblade

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Below: The view from the bluffs at Little Grand Canyon, a National Natural Landmark located in Jackson County. Photo by Amanda Averbeck Right: Sunset along the observation trail at the Garden of the Gods. Photo by Stephen Rickerl

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Panther Den Wilderness in Union and Williamson Counties is the smallest wilderness area in Illinois at 1,195 acres. The area is popular with both hikers and bird watchers for the panoramic views from its 70-foot-high cliffs. Photo by Bobby Samat

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Winter

Right: The sun sets behind a veil of icicles in the Garden of the Gods. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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A doe peers through ice-encased branches near Garden of the Gods. Whitetail deer are flourishing in the Shawnee. A recent estimate put the Shawnee’s deer population at more than 20,000. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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Snow and ice blanket a dock at Cedar Lake. located south of Murphysboro, Ill. Popular with fishermen, the lake has two boat ramps, but very little shoreline fishing access. Photo by Melanie Miller

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Above: Oak and beech leaves are frozen into the surface of Ferne Clyffe Lake. The 16-acre lake was created in 1960 and has a maximum depth of 22 feet. A trail circles the lake, providing easy access for hiking and bank fishing. Photo by Bobby Samat Right: Sunlight glints off ice-coated branches near the Garden of the Gods. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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Snow blankets a field near Kincaid Lake. Limited farming continues through portions of the Shawnee purchase area. Photo by Melanie Miller

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Trees bow under the weight of their ice-covered branches following a late winter ice storm near Garden of the Gods. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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Left: Frozen water creates an icy wall at Burden Falls in Pope County. This ice storm in 2008 was the first of many in a long winter for southern Illinois and the Shawnee National Forest. Below: Ice hangs over the water flowing through Burden Falls in the Shawnee National Forest. The area was hit with several severe ice storms in 2008 and 2009. Photos by Kyle Jackson

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Below: Icy trees top a bluff in Gallatin County near Garden of the Gods. Photo by Kyle Jackson Right: Burden Falls, the largest waterfall in Illinois, is located in the Burden Falls Wilderness in Pope County. Photo by Bobby Samat

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The sun reflects off a thin layer of December ice at the Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir boardwalk. The boardwalk provides access to permanant wildlife and migratory bird-viewing blinds. Oakwood Bottoms, located northeast of Grand Tower in Jackson County, is flooded by the U.S. Forest Service during winter to provide a habitat for migrating waterfowl. Photo by Emily Sunblade

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What lies beneath I

Story by Joseph Rehana

Right: The Cove Hollow Trail near Cedar Lake meanders through sandstone cliffs draped in moss. In early April, the trees show signs of life and wildflowers begin to grow in the moist ecosystem that flourishes in the shadows of the cliffs. Photo by Emily Sunblade

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t is easy to picture early settlers to southern Illinois gathered around their campfires trying to imagine how this land came to be so geologically diverse. “I wonder what people think about when they come down here from Chicago to vacation, or even people who have lived here all their life—what they think about the rich, geological history that maybe we take for granted, because it is unique,” said Harvey Henson, assistant dean for the College of Science and a geophysicist with the Department of Geology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “Many, many things, from earthquakes to rivers to glaciers to ancient volcanism, have worked together to create the landscape that is beneath us.” Illinois State Geological Survey geologist Brett Denny often speaks to interested groups about the bedrock studies performed on a curious physical feature in Hardin County, called Hicks Dome. The dome rises 669 feet above sea level, and on topographic maps resembles an island at the center of a dry moat. Denny deflates a notion that the mound was caused by a meteor strike and

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supports the theory, first published by scientists in 1920, that volcanic activity caused the formation. Core samples taken from deep inside the dome show heavily fragmented sedimentary rocks like sandstone intermixed with volcanic rocks. A drive from Chicago to southern Illinois is a nearly flat, uneventful voyage with little variation in the topography—until one reaches the region known as the Shawnee National Forest. Long before the first human visitors arrived to the prehistoric lands now called Illinois, glaciers crawled south toward Carbondale, Ill. Before the glaciers, all of Illinois was accented with hills, valleys and wild rivers, a landscape entirely different than the Prairie State we know today. Massive amounts of debris and sediment were both carried inside the glaciers

and bulldozed ahead of them. The debris was left behind in their eventual retreat north, filling in the prehistoric valleys and flattening out the hills. “You can think of most of Illinois as being underlined by a geologic basin, sort of a broad spoon,” Henson said. “In other words, the rocks dip towards the center of Illinois.” The now-subterranean Wabash Valley, filled in by glacial debris, forms the center of the Illinois basin, while its rim rises out


Left: Erosionresistant iron deposits, called Liesegang bands, stand in sharp relief to the sandstone that surrounds them. Formations such as this are found throughout Garden of the Gods. Photo by Stephen Rickerl

of the debris in the Shawnee forest. In the southern parts of Illinois, western Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Missouri Bootheel, the feature that rises up towards the outer crust where rocks are buckled upward is called the Pascola Arch, Henson said. “It’s an arch that has been eroded, and glacial deposits from various glacial advances—the last one being the Wisconsin (glaciation)—have buried these rocks with a blanket of sediment and rich soil in the middle of the state,” Henson

said. But those glacial advances stopped right around Carbondale, and all that ice, in some cases thousands of feet deep, melted and eroded the rock outcrop belt known as the rim of the Illinois basin, on the flanks of the Pascola Arch, Henson said. enson, who came to Southern Illinois University in 1985 to attend graduate school, said he does not get out into the Shawnee National Forest as often as he would like, but its exposed

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geology and available recreation is something he fell in love with long ago. Rick Reeve, owner of Shawnee Trails, a wilderness outfitter in Carbondale, feels much the same way Harvey Henson does when describing his affinity for the region. When Reeve arrived to attend SIUC in 1972, he said he was surprised by the available outdoor recreation nearby. Reeve said he never imagined then that he would still be in Carbondale today, but that his love for the local rock climbing quickly brought him back after graduation. “Students wan-

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Above: Morning fog rolls out over a valley in the Shawnee National Forest. Photo by Stephen Rickerl Right: Liesegang banding in a rock at Garden of the Gods. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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der into the store and ask ‘where can I use equipment like that around here?’” Reeve said while pointing to the kayaks hanging from the store’s ceiling. “They have no idea of the area around them.” In 1999, Cobden High School science teacher Don Bless discovered there were few online resources to explain and explore the geology and outdoor recreation of southern Illinois. He acquired a grant from the state to purchase digital assets to construct a Web site highlighting the Shawnee National Forest and its geology. Bless had the assistance of Professor John Utgaard of the SIUC geology department. Bless and his students spent three years documenting their field trips with Utgaard advising. They created a Web site filled with pictures, maps, and descriptions of the areas they visited. “I realized that there was not anything that really dealt with the geology of southern Illinois in a way that would encourage people to go different places, and see it for themselves,” Bless said. “And one of the best things about southern Illinois is the geology. It’s really cool down here.”

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The Shawnee:

Where Appalachian cliffs meet Louisiana swamps T he whole country comes together in southern Illinois. That’s how Shawnee National Forest biologist Steve Widowski describes the ecological diversity of the area. “It’s where east meets west, north meets south,” Widowski said. “As plants evolved over time, they moved north and south or east and west based on climate, and southern Illinois was in the middle.” That explains a phenomenon such as the LaRue-Pine Hills area of the forest, where more than 1,150 plant species grow within six square miles, Widowski said. Plants normally found in the northern prairies, southern swamplands, and eastern and western forests all congregate here, where rocky cliffs border swampy marshes. Retired Southern Illinois University Carbondale professor Robert Mohlenbrock called the area an “unbelievable synergy.” Mohlenbrock has written 62 books, including a three-volume set on the 156 national forests in the US. Having visited

Story by Les O’Dell, Allison Petty and Alicia Wade

them all, Mohlenbrock said the Shawnee ranks near the top. “It’s a surprising area and most people don’t even know we have somewhere like it in Illinois. It is astounding,” he said. “We have a little bit of the Appalachians, we have a lot of the Louisiana swamp species

that have come up the Mississippi, we have plants from the prairies that probably got blown on westerly winds and we have little patches of prairies. Then we have things that the glacier pushed down from the north.” The Cache River area bordering the

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Top: White Trillium (Trillium flexipes) This member of the lily family can grow two feet tall and favors upland forests. Photo by Aaron Lipe Left: Towering pine trees south of Devil’s Kitchen Lake. Photo by Bobby Samat

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Above: A yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum) blooms in Bell Smith Springs. Photo by Claudette Roulo Right: Bald cypress knees poke out of Heron Pond, located in the Cache River State Natural Area. Photo by Bobby Samat

Shawnee features the northernmost cypress-tupelo swamp in the nation. ut there are threats to this distinctive habitat. Non-native species such as autumn olive, garlic mustard and Chinese yam have taken root in southern Illinois, and their evolution could change the natural face of the forest. For instance, Widowski said garlic mustard could eliminate native wildflowers where it grows. “In places where it’s starting to occur, there’s nothing else living there but garlic mustard. Obviously that changes the diversity, the animal makeup and everything else,” he said. “It’s green, but it’s not

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pretty.” Daniel Nickrent, a professor of plant biology at SIUC, said while some may not see the dangers of allowing invasive species to flourish, the invaders can have a lasting negative effect on natural plant life. “Some people might think, ‘Why are we worried about that? It’s green,’” Nickrent said. “But we want our native plants. It’s the choice we have to make. It just comes down to how much do you value our native stuff?” Nickrent said spreading non-native plants might be completely unintentional, as it could be as easy as getting mud on a shoe. “Seeds are the way these really get

around,” he said. “I could have mud on my shoe with a seed in it and I’ve tracked it in here.” In an attempt to combat the spread of invasive species, the Forest Service uses prescribed burning and herbicides. Workers also dig up invasive plants when they spot them. The forest’s Land Management Plan, released in 2006, calls for roughly 8,400 acres to be burned each year. Widowski said that would help keep the forest’s native hardwood trees healthy because young oaks need sunlight to grow. Softer woods, such as maples and beeches, grow above them, keeping the sunlight away.


Not everyone supports burning. Some environmental groups oppose the practice. “(The Forest Service has) had symposium after symposium for decades about ‘how are we going to save the oak forest?’” said Mark Donham, co-founder of the Regional Association of Concerned Environmentalists. “Oak aren’t endangered. There’s oak everywhere.” “Burnings disturb natural habitats, fragment the forest and kill wildlife that can’t escape, he said. But animals benefit from the burnings, said Dan Hellgren, director of the SIUC Cooperative Wildlife Research Lab. Hardwoods are “a huge food supply in the fall and over winter for lots of animals,” he said. “You’ve got a whole system tied to producing oak acorns and to some extent hickory nuts too. “If your value is ... maple trees, you’re not going to want to cut anything. If your value is … oak and hickory, then you’re going to want to do things ... We have the power to manage things.”

Left: Sunrise over Cache River. Photo by Emily Sunblade. Above: A bald cypress stands in the swampy waters of Horseshoe Lake. Photo by Bobby Samat

To read more about prescribed burning or view a slide show of a canoe trip on the Cache River, please visit the history section of the Shawnee Forest Web site at www.shawneeforest.net

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Ancient art, modern explorers Story By Nikki Jacobs

Editor’s note: Jim Jung died of lung cancer during preparation of this book. This story is dedicated to his memory.

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Right: Petroglyphs at Piney Creek Nature Preserve in northwest Jackson County. Photo by Bobby Samat

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n the floor of his red Toyota Tercel, among a Frito Lay corn chip bag, a discarded Carbondale Times and a crushed Pepsi can, lay Jim Jung’s livelihood. The golden cover of his nature almanac, “The Waterman & Hill-Traveller’s Companion,” peeked out from under the rubbish. Jung – and his wife, Ruby - have published the almanac for nine years. On the back seat, several cardboard boxes hold additional copies he plans to distribute at local businesses. “We try and sell only through locally owned and operated businesses,” said Jung, a Carbondale native. “I like the idea of supporting small-town USA.” Ruby, 51, said her husband of 31 years always keeps her on her toes and busy with the almanac. “I’d like to describe Jim, but I don’t think I can in a sentence,” Ruby said. “I want to call him charming, but that’s not always the truth. Is there a way to call him ec-

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centric without it sounding bad?” While driving, Jung opened one of his almanacs and flipped through the book, pointing out an article on his favorite hobby: studying and discovering petroglyph sites. In his excitement, he swerved precariously close to the other lane in the road. Unperturbed by oncoming traffic, Jung said it was prime weather for viewing the rock carvings. “You need a sunny day, without clouds, for maximum visibility,” Jung said. “With the right kind of lighting, carvings will just pop out at you.” Dressed in a green hunting jacket, faded jeans and a maroon sweater, the 52-yearold bounded from his car. He announced that he was ready to tackle the slopes of Fountain Bluff. He tugged his blue canvas

baseball cap with enthusiasm, shouldered the white nylon rope he’d fished out of the trunk and headed up the bluff toward the Whetstone Shelter. Fountain Bluff is in the southwest corner of Jackson County, along the Mississippi River. Rare plants, an Indian solar observatory, rock carvings, views of the Mississippi valley, numerous springs and waterfalls are all a part of this unique wooded landscape.


Winded, but still going strong, Jung found his beloved site and took a seat in what he called the “throne.” The throne is big enough for an adult to sit comfortably and view the Mississippi River. This depression is surrounded on all sides by petroglyphs. Depictions of hands, weeping eyes, and crosses enclosed by circles pit the sandstone. Jung said the purpose of the Whetstone Shelter has not been identified, but ancient Mississippians made the carvings on the walls, often with flint or pebbles. He believed the site had a spiritual significance to the Indians who once lived on and around Fountain Bluff. The Mississippian culture lasted from about A.D. 800 to the time of the arrival of the first European explorers. It spread over a great area of the Southeast and the midcontinent, in the river valleys of what are now the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. ark Wagner, a staff researcher for the Southern Illinois University Center for Archeological Investigations, calls Jung an avocational archeologist, which is a formal title given to petroglyph hobbyists. “We (at SIU) are a public institution and we cooperate with amateurs whenever possible,” Wagner said. “Most sites are reported by amateurs who are interested in seeing the sites protected along with the stories behind them.” Wagner and Jung agreed that the task of protecting and conserving the sites on Fountain Bluff is vital to understanding the ancient Mississippian culture. The sites that are most easily accessed often are marred by litter and grafitti. The Illinois Archaeology Journal of the Illinois Archaeological Survey said many of the petroglyph sites in southern Illinois are uncharted. Wagner said this is

Left: Petroglyphs at Fountain Bluff and other sites in southern Illinois are being obliterated by decades of grafitti. Photo by Kyle Jackson

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because publishing the sites in journals and books would allow vandals to find the places and deface them.

“There can be 99 good people visiting a site, but one person can wreck it entirely,” Wagner said.

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Connecting two rivers Story by Daniel Twomey Photos by Bobby Samat

Below: Eric Johnson of Eldorado, Ill., wears a River to River trail map. Right: A hiker squeezes through a narrow passage during a hike on the River to River trail.

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or an entire summer in 1994 John O’Dell and three friends spent two days a week in the Shawnee National Forest, hauling backpacks filled with hand-painted diamond-shaped signs, nailing them to trees and posts to carve out a path across southern Illinois. In the 15 years since, hikers have been drawn to the Shawnee from across the globe, attracted by scenery ranging from high bluffs overlooking a lush valley of pine trees at Ferne Clyffe to the mossy cool of the cascading waters at Burden Falls. Perhaps nobody has done more to advance southern Illinois as a hiking destination than O’Dell, the founder of the River to River Trail Society. The not-for-profit volunteer group’s mission is to maintain a 146-mile long trail that meanders across the bottom of the state, from the Ohio River on the east to the Mississippi on the west. There was no

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marked trail connecting the two rivers at the time O’Dell, a retired school superintendant, founded the society. He said it was difficult to understand why an area rich in scenic attractions and heritage received so few tourists. His desire to bring people to the area while exposing its beauty and history led to the development of the River to River Trail. But there were two major obstacles: funding and charting the trail itself. O’Dell, who once served as a Navy navigator, struggled to find places to lay the trail. While O’Dell was looking for information in Southern Illinois University’s library, he came across a framed map with routes for a proposed river-to-river trail. The map was the work of the former SIU President Delyte Morris. “That was the key to unlocking and making the River to River Trail,” O’Dell said. It showed him that it would be possible to chart a footpath across the forest. Much of the Morris map was focused on equestrian use, but with the efforts of the River to River Trail Society, the Forest Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Southern Illinois University

Carbondale, a hiking trail was completed. White plywood markers, distinguishable by their diamond shape, with a blue dash and dot that looks like the letter “i” were used to mark the trail. O’Dell and other society members cut and painted the markers by hand, and then trudged into the woods, hammer and markers at the ready until the trail


Left: Hikers walk past a handmade sign marking the River to River Trail. The diamond-shaped signs point in the direction of travel, so occasionally they may be hung sideways. Plain white diamonds denote “interesting” side trails.

was fully marked. As word has spread of the River to River trail, hikers have come from around the world to enjoy southern Illinois. According to O’Dell, the society now has over 1,300 members. “I think anybody who gets out in the woods is going to be a better person for it,” O’Dell said. “Once they go into the woods, their knowledge and appreciation for nature increases.”

To maintain the trail, the society has a volunteer board of directors. Each director is given a section of the trail to help maintain. Directors are required to walk their section at least twice a year to ensure it is well marked and that fallen trees or washouts do not obstruct the path. The system is modeled on the efforts of those who maintain the famous Appalachian Trail. The River to River Trail has become part of the American Discovery Trail, which

stretches from Delaware to Point Loma, Calif. “A walk into the woods is one of the most wonderful experiences you could ever have,” O’Dell said. “It’s like walking through a museum, because there’s so many different things to experience.” To view a multimedia presentation about John O’Dell, please visit the Shawnee Forest Web site at www.shawneeforest.net

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All creatures great and small Story by Allison Petty Photos by Claudette Roulo

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n its yearly journey from Canada to Central America, the greenwinged teal stops in southern

Illinois. The teal is a duck that breeds in the northern parts of North America, but spends its winters far south of its breeding range. It prefers shallow ponds, especially ones with lots of emergent vegetation, which makes the Shawnee a perfect stopover for migrating teals. The teal is one of 237 bird species accommodated by the unique blend of habitats in the Shawnee National Forest, said Michael Eichholz, assistant professor of zoology at Southern Illinois University

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Carbondale. The forest offers homes for animals that came east from the Ozark Mountains, west from the Smoky Mountains, north from the southern swamplands and south from the rolling prairies, he said. Five distinct ecological divisions lie within the boundaries of the forest, a collision of habitats found nowhere else in Illinois. Steve Widowski, a Forest Service wildlife biologist, has made a living for the past 30 years from understanding the forest’s rich biological culture. “The Shawnee is at a location where east meets west, north meets south, and so we have a lot of these influences,” Widowski said, citing botanical and geographical variety in the 284,000 acres of designated forest. “On the west side of the forest in particular, we have Mississippi River floodplain, bottomland forest, coming right next to upland forest, Illinois Ozark forest … a lot of diversity in a small location there.” And with more than 500 vertebrate species to consider, Widowski stays busy. Those include more than 47 reptiles, 32 amphibians and 112 fish, according

to the forest’s 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan. Of particular concern are the federal threatened and endangered species that live within the forest, Widowski said. Special attention is required for the least tern, Indiana bat, pallid sturgeon and an assortment of mussels with colorful names – the fanshell, fat pocketbook, pink mucket and orange-footed pimpleback. Additionally, another 43 are state threatened and endangered species. “It’s all these different groups of animals that have adapted to very specific kinds of habitat all converging in southern Illinois because the ranges all just happen to converge right together,” Eichholz said. ecause of their position, the wetlands of the Shawnee are particularly crucial for the teal and many other migratory birds, Eichholz said. Located halfway between the winter and summer homes of most of those animals, and fortified with an abundance of food sources, the wetlands provide an ideal stopping place for the birds to rest, feed and prepare to breed. Without a stopping place in the Shawnee,

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Opposite: A female wild turkey perches in a tree near Turkey Bayou Campground. Contrary to popular belief, turkeys can fly, but they tend to stay close to the ground when doing so. This page, left: An Eastern Phoebe hunts for flying insects at dusk near the Greentree Reservoir interpretive site at Oakwood Bottoms. The Eastern Phoebe was chosen by John Audubon to be the first bird banded in the United States. Near left: A male Pileated Woodpecker listens for insect activity under the bark of an ash tree at Oakwood Bottoms. Below: An Eastern Bluebird prepares to launch itself from a tree branch outside the Oakwood Bottoms viewing blinds.

many of those bird species would see a dramatic population decrease, Eichholz said. The Shawnee provides an ideal habitat for other creatures as well. Hundreds of non-migratory bird species abound, such as wild turkey, quail and the great blue heron. Whitetail deer are flourishing, while other species such as beaver, fox and bobcat can be found by looking closely. The Shawnee’s distinct terrain plays a crucial role in maintaining the area’s

biodiversity. The most obvious example of this role might be the biannual snake migration, when thousands of reptiles and amphibians travel between the nearly 400 ft.-high LaRue-Pine Hills bluffs and the adjacent swampland. Triggered by changes in ground temperature, the migration between winter and summer habitats takes the snakes from fissures high in the bluffs to lowland swamps and slough areas. Approximately 66 percent of Illinois’ amphibians and 59 percent of the state’s

reptiles live in this area, making the migration a major event for both amateur and professional herpetologists from around the country. The Forest Service closes 2.5 miles of “Snake Road” to vehicle traffic between March 15 and May 15 and again from September 1 to October 31. “It’s probably the only place in the country where a road is closed for reptile and amphibian migrations,” Widowski said.

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Legal battles in the Shawnee T

Story by Allison Petty

he tranquility of the Shawnee National Forest belies the turmoil of its recent past. Stretching across 284,000 acres of rolling hills in southern Illinois, the forest encompasses diverse terrain from lowlands to scenic stone bluffs. It is a hub of biological diversity, with more than 500 wildlife species, seven of which are on the list of federally threatened or endangered species. For this reason, the 85-mile-wide stretch of countryside from the Ohio River to the Mississippi holds unique value for environmentalists, equestrians, hikers and biologists.

“... regulation is required to assure the preservation of Lusk Creek Wilderness for generations to come ...”--U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert

Right: Used horseshoes lie in a crate at the Vorbrich farm in Alto Pass, Ill. Photo by Suzanne Caraker

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The groups’ interests and philosophies have sometimes conflicted with the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the area. Three major issues — logging, all-terrain vehicle use and horseback riding — have led to a series of legal battles over the past 20 years. U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert has

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presided over these disputes, at one point even taking to horseback to referee a disagreement about horseback riding. In a 2005 opinion he referred to the years of contention this way: “The Court can attest to many bitter and heartfelt disputes between those believing timber harvests or oil or gas leasing should take precedence over recreationists’ desires to enjoy wandering under the canopies of old growth forests or environmentalists’ concerns for maintaining the habitat of endangered or threatened fish and birds.” he Forest Service has sought to sell the rights to harvest thousands of acres of timber, angering area environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Heartwood and the Regional Association of Concerned Environmentalists. Mark Donham, co-founder of the Regional Association of Concerned Environmentalists, remembered the 1990 Fairview Timber Sale as the most dramatic protest

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during his 25 years of environmental activism in the forest. “It was so intense. People were so determined. There were hundreds of people. They had a tent city camped on the logging road,” Donham said, recalling that a few of the scores of participants had buried themselves in a road to stop the progress of loggers. The sale of about 26 acres of mature hardwoods eventually went through, and the trees were cut down. In later court cases, however, the Forest Service was unable to show that it had


analyzed how individual logging sales affected the overall forest. John Wallace, who said he has been involved with environmental activism in the forest for 20 years, remembered protesters occupying the Fairview area for 80 days in 1990 in an attempt to stop the clear-cutting. Though he described the Fairview outcome as heart-wrenching, Wallace said he believes his and the other protesters’ efforts were far from wasted. “In the end, it turned out good, what we did. We made people aware of what was going on,” Wallace said. “Injustices have to be exposed.” hen aspects of the Forest Service’s forest management practices are called into question, much of the legal focus centers on a single document. The agency monitors, manages and maintains the forest and its resources according to a Land and Resource Management Plan. Federal law requires the Forest Service seek input from wildlife experts and community members before publishing such a plan. The plan has to be revised at least every 10 years. After the 1986 plan was challenged by environmental groups and struck down in court, Congress got involved. It passed the Illinois Wilderness Act of 1990, which designated seven wilderness areas which are exempt from logging, motorized vehicles and mining. The areas, which take about 26,000 acres or about 10 percent of the forest, include: Bald Knob, Bay Creek, Burden Falls, Clear Springs, Garden of the Gods, Lusk Creek and Panther Den. SIU President Glenn Poshard recalled the time-consuming effort that led to passage of the law, his first legislative accomplishment as a member of Congress.

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“God only knows why I decided to take it on, because I had no idea what we were getting into,” Poshard said. “It was the most sensitive thing in the world.” Poshard said he tried to act as a mediator between the Forest Service and environmentalists, traveling among the southern counties and holding public meetings that often became so heated people had to be escorted out. He said some residents feared they would be kept out of the proposed wilderness areas. “The meetings were packed. I mean, they were wall–to-wall, because people thought they weren’t going to have access (to the forest) any longer,” he said.

Poshard said he also spent parts of two years walking the entire forest so he could see for himself what the environmental groups found so valuable. Poshard said he remained very proud of the law, of which he keeps a framed copy. “No one else would touch (that bill), and the Sierra Club and Audubon Society … were the only supporters I had in that whole thing, but you know what? Today, I talk to a lot of my friends and people that I’ve known for many years down in those counties. … They appreciate the wilderness concept, because they’re used to it now, they know how beautiful those areas are and they don’t want them destroyed,” he said.

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Above: Joe Batir plans his next move on a climbing route called Deedledumps at Jackson Falls. The climbing area offers numerous routes, with everything from extremely challenging climbs to beginner level routes. Photo by Genna Ord

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Above: Nigel Vorbrich leads a trail ride into the Shawnee National Forest. Photo by Suzanne Caraker

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Donham supported the bill, but thought Poshard could have done more. “We always didn’t think he went far enough,” Donham said. wo years after Congress passed the Illinois Wilderness Act, the Forest Service adopted a revised plan for forest management. It called for 286 miles of newly designated trails for ATVs. In April 1994, RACE and the Sierra Club filed a suit challenging the 1992 revision, including the designation of those trails. Judge Gilbert ruled in favor of the environmental groups on some issues and the Forest Service on others. He wrote that the Forest Service had “failed to support” its claim that other federal agencies that allowed ATVs “had few problems with use

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outside authorized areas or criminal activity associated with” ATV use. Gilbert required the Forest Service to revise its analysis of the environmental impact of the ATV trails on the Shawnee and ordered the Forest Service not to make any decisions on ATV trails until it had finished the environmental analysis. Instead of immediately conducting the ATV analysis, the Forest Service chose to rework its environmental analysis when it revised the Land and Resource Management Plan beginning in 1998. A 2002 plan emerged, but it was challenged by a group of recreational organizations, including the Shawnee Trail Conservancy and Illinois Trail Riders. These groups, which favored ATV trails, maintained that the Forest

Service had not begun to analyze the ATV trails and had failed to maintain “user-created trails.” “The plaintiffs believe the Forest Service has essentially ‘packed its bags’ and and refused to pursue any decision on the issue,” Judge Gilbert wrote. In June 2004, Gilbert dismissed the suit, saying the court did not have the authority over the Forest Service to command the action sought by the plaintiffs. Even though he dismissed the suit, Judge Gilbert wrote that he was, “disturbed by evidence showing that the Forest Service is not making use of the volunteer manpower offered to it in regard to trail maintenance … willing but idle hands are a waste. It is a shame that volunteers sit idle while trails decay because bureaucrats cannot find the appropriate supervision or secure the appropriate approval to put them to work.” In its most recent management plan in 2006, the Forest Service did not allow ATV use, but that hasn’t stopped the ATV enthusiasts. “In terms of enforcement, there’s still a lot of illegal ATV damage being done to the Shawnee,” said Sam Stearns, who has represented himself in many lawsuits against the Forest Service during the past 20 years and founded the local environmental group Friends of Bell Smith Springs. But Stearns said the situation is improved from the early 1990s and “at least … the Forest Service is not condoning this activity.” n 1999, local environmentalist Joseph Glisson filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service because he was concerned

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about improper equestrian use in the Lusk Creek area. Unregulated horseback riding — particularly from large guided tours run by private campgrounds and outfitters in the area — caused erosion, harmed plants and created deep, wide ruts where so many horses had walked, sometimes in mud, Glisson contended. As a result of the case, the Forest Service began to implement a permit system for equestrian campgrounds and outfitters. However, only one campground obtained an equestrian permit before the case went back to court, according to documents. Stearns and Wallace, who took over Glisson’s suit, asked the court to hold the Forest Service in contempt because there had not been significant change. A series of hearings convinced Judge Gilbert that the differences between the parties were “exacerbated and their agreements were masked by their real inability to trust and communicate clearly with each other.” In an unconventional decision, Gilbert decided to step down from the bench to become a mediator between the parties. He began by riding on horseback through the Lusk Creek area with a group of environmentalists, equestrians, Forest Service personnel, U.S. Marshals, government attorneys and court staff. Court records include Gilbert’s anecdotal account of the day. “(I) saw damage to trails and areas near them … mud (frozen at the time) that had been churned up by horses, rare plant species that had been trampled by horses, trees that had been damaged by horses tethered close by and spots where the lack of vegetation (from horse traffic and other causes) had allowed significant erosion,” Gilbert wrote in a 2005 brief. Using experience he gained from 12 years on the bench presiding over 17 cases

involving the Forest Service, Gilbert brokered a compromise between the equestrians and environmentalists setting up a new permit system and guidelines. The system created several permitted trails in the Lusk Creek area, but prohibited commercial horseback riding anywhere but the permitted trails. Permit holders were prohibited from riding between Dec. 1 and March 31, as well as any day in April, May, September, October or November when more than one inch of rain had fallen. Gilbert wrote that he did not believe the plan was perfect or would solve all the problems between the conflicting interests. “Nevertheless, it is the Court’s opinion that regulation is required to assure the preservation of Lusk Creek Wilderness … for generations to come,” he wrote. Wallace said he was happy with the results of the decade-long legal struggle. “In the end, what happened was we didn’t win. Sam, Joe or I can’t say, ‘Yeah we won this case,’” he said. “But we can say that Lusk Creek won and that’s a really cool outcome.” teve Hupe, coordinator of the forest’s natural resources management program, said the most recent forest plan calls for maintaining oak and hickory trees by thinning the tops of trees that block sunlight. He said the plan, which he and other members of the Forest Service spent years crafting, also calls for prescribed burns in parts of the forest. Oak and hickory trees are native to the region, while softer woods such as maple and pine trees provide much less food for wildlife. If the forest were not maintained to keep the hardwoods dominant, the region would lose the ecological diversity that makes it so valuable, he said. Because young oak and hickory trees

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need sunlight that is often blocked by the forest’s canopy, logging and burning are necessary, Hupe said. While Hupe said thinning out the canopy is an improvement over the clear-cutting practices used in past years, Donham said he is not impressed by the 2006 plan.

“...they appreciate the wilderness concept, because they’re used to it now, they know how beautiful those areas are and they don’t want them destroyed.” --SIU President Glenn Poshard “The 2006 plan is bogus, it’s illegal, it doesn’t represent the people and we want it reopened,” Donham said. Though members of Donham’s group participated in public meetings and offered their comments during the development of the 2006 plan, Donham said their input was largely ignored. He said the plan allowed increased logging and burning, and added that he believes the Forest Service has outlived its usefulness. Wallace said he had mixed feelings about the most recent plan. “I think that in many ways, (the Forest Service officials) want to continue on the same road that they’ve traveled so many times, in that they allow commercial interests to have too much influence on management,” he said. Stearns said he too had mixed feelings about the Forest Service. He wanted to work for the agency when he was a child, but said his trust in it waned during the 20 years he has spent battling various Forest Service decisions in the Shawnee. However, he said he found fault with the agency’s bureaucracy, not its employees. “Some of the best and most useful information that I have gotten to help us on our side has come from people within the agency,” he said.

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This book is one piece of a multimedia project by students of the School of Journalism at Southern

Illinois University Carbondale. Student writers, photographers and Web designers collaborated for three semesters to develop a multi-faceted showcase for the wonder of the Shawnee Forest. It is impossible to fully document a place as large and wondrous as the Shawnee in a few pages. To experience the forest, one must visit it, of course; but for those who can’t, the web site provides an opportunity to hike a virtual trail or to learn more about places or to experience vicariously the sights and sounds of the Shawnee Forest. A sampling of what can be found at www.shawneeforest.net: Multimedia slide shows: - Float on the Cache River - Duck Inn, waddle out - Learn how to make maple syrup - Soar Makanda’s Vulture Fest Enhanced stories: - Crab Orchard: Home to wildlife, industry - Hear Velna Dobbs talk about her life Video: - Volunteer corps rebuilds trails - Mushroom hunting with Joe McFarland - Relive the Fairfiew forest fight - See Bald Knob Cross restored Interactive maps and timelines

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The Shawnee Forest  

Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois

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