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Flooding affects recreation sites at Shawnee National Forest

Southern Illinois currently is responding to flooding. As rain continues to fall, many of our streams and rivers have yet to crest, or reach their highest level. While Shawnee National Forest works to assess the impacts of flooding, it’s important people remain safe while visiting the forest.

We have closed Opossum Trot Road and Stoneface Road due to flood damage. We know other sites have water in them, including:

·         areas around the Big Muddy River, including the camping area at Turkey Bayou;

·         Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir; and

·         Tower Rock Campground.

We strongly encourage people to stay out of flood waters. Places that may have water in them include:

·         All recreation sites and trails bordering on lakes, such as Kinkaid Lake (Johnson Creek and Buttermilk Hill), Cedar Lake, Panther Den Wilderness and Pounds Hollow.

·         All recreation sites and trails in close proximity to major streams, such as Illinois Iron Furnace, Bell Smith Springs and Snake Road.

Most of the trails on the forest have creek crossings, which may be unsafe until flows return to normal levels.  Of particular concern are:

·         Little Grand Canyon

·         Clear Springs and Bald Knob Wildernesses

·         Lusk Creek Wilderness

·         Garden of the Gods Wilderness — Thacker Hollow — Pounds Hollow area trails

·         One Horse Gap and Big Grand Pierre area trails

·         Bay Creek and Hayes Creek area trails

Before visiting the forest, please know:

·         Our rivers, streams, and creeks are running very high, fast, and cold.  They are extremely dangerous and conditions can change rapidly.  Avoid recreating near any waterbodies until this flooding incident has fully subsided.

·         Do not walk or drive across flooded roads or bridges.  The water may hide an impassable hole or weakened structure, and it takes less than 2’ of water to carry away your vehicle.

·         The trails in Lusk Creek Wilderness are closed to equestrians for a minimum of 24 hours following the cessation of the rain, in accordance with Forest Closure Order #R9-08-11-10.

Even those areas not directly flooded have been heavily impacted by the tremendous rainfall.  The ground is extremely muddy, slopes are slippery, downed trees may block trails or access points.  Please be careful as well as conscientious – under these conditions every user has a much more extreme impact on the soil, the vegetation and the infrastructure.  Try to restrict your activities to well-hardened trails or sites, or better yet, consider postponing your visit until conditions improve.

About Shawnee National Forest

Administered by the USDA Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide. As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/shawneenfand Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/shawneenatlforest.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes 20 states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us.