Shawnee National Forest and the Friends of the Shawnee will be hosting an open house to discuss the recently released forest recreation fee proposal. The open house will take place at the Forest Service-Shawnee National Forest office located at 50 Highway 145 South, Harrisburg, Illinois on September 30, 2019 from 6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m.
“We know recreation on the Shawnee National Forest is important to the people of southern Illinois, both for their own enjoyment and the tourism it brings to our area. We would like to share with the public the status of our recreation program and the reasons behind our proposed fees, as well as get input and suggestions from people to help us improve the fee proposal,” says Laura Lecher, Recreation Staff Officer for the Shawnee National Forest.
Forest Service personnel will be available to discuss the recreation fee proposal and recreation facilities on the forest, answer questions the public may have, and receive comments on the proposal. Additional public meetings on the fee proposal will be held in October and November at different locations in southern Illinois. Dates and locations will be publicized as they are determined.
The fee proposal was announced August 15, 2019, and public comments will be taken until December 6, 2019. The forest has proposed to implement new day-use-fees of $5 per vehicle at these six popular recreation sites: Garden of the Gods Observation Trail, Pounds Hollow Lake-Beach, Johnson Creek Boat Launch, Pomona Boat Launch, Bell Smith Springs Interpretive Site, and Little Grand Canyon Trailhead. The proposal also includes increasing the overnight camping fee for the electric sites at Pine Ridge Campground in Pounds Hollow Recreation Area to $15 per electric campsite.
Information about the proposal can be found on the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee. Comments can be submitted through the website, via email, mail, or hand delivery to a Shawnee National Forest office.