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Public Invited to Two Recreation Fee Proposal Open Houses

Shawnee National Forest and the Friends of the Shawnee will be hosting two upcoming open house meetings to discuss the recently released forest recreation fee proposal. The first open house will take place at the Carbondale Civic Center, Room 116, at 200 S Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, Illinois, on October 21, 2019 from 6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m. A second open house will take place at the Shawnee Community College, Anna Extension Center at 1150 Vienna Street, Anna, Illinois, on October 30, 2019, from 4:30 p.m.– 6:30 p.m.

“We have had a lot of good discussion about our proposal to charge day-use-fees on the Shawnee National Forest, and we are using the input from people to further shape the proposal. I hope folks will take advantage of these meetings to come ask questions and provide their feedback. The Forest is important to all of us, and we want to do our best to take care of it and the recreational opportunities it provides,” 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. One more public meeting on the fee is anticipated in November at a location still to be determined. The date and location will be publicized when they are set.

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 six popular recreation sites: Garden of the Gods Observation Trail, Pounds Hollow Beach, Johnson Creek Boat Launch, Pomona Boat Launch, Bell Smith Springs Interpretive Site, and Little Grand Canyon Trailhead. A $30 annual pass option is also proposed which would cover all day use fee sites on the forest for a calendar year. In addition, the proposal includes increasing the overnight camping fee for the electric sites at Pine Ridge Campground in Pounds Hollow Recreation Area to $15 per campsite.

Information about the proposal and the comment form can be found on the forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee. Comments can be submitted through the website, via email, mail, or hand delivery to a Shawnee National Forest office.

Save the date for the open houses by going to our Facebook events page: www.facebook.com/shawneenatlforest/events.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency 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 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.)

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