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Shawnee National Forest announces 2018 fee-free days

The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites several times in 2018, beginning with January 15, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“Fee-free days are our way of thanking millions of national forest visitors and encouraging new people to visit the forest,” said Shawnee National Forest Supervisor Brendan Cain.

No fees are charged at any time on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and about two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Visit Recreation.gov to see if your destination charges a fee. Fees are used to help cover the cost of safe, clean facilities. Use the Forest Service map to find a national forest or grassland near you.

2018 Fee-Free Days are:

· January 15: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the legacy of the civil rights leader and encourages Americans to participate in the MLK Day of Service.

· February 19: Presidents Day honors our nation’s presidents with particular attention towards commemorating former Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. · June 9: National Get Outdoors Day encourages healthy, outdoor activities. · September 22: National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands.

· November 10-11: Veterans Day pays tribute to military heroes past and present.

Shawnee National Forest campgrounds included in the fee waiver are Garden of the Gods, Pounds Hollow, Camp Cadiz, Pine Hills and Johnson Creek. Concessionaire operated campgrounds are not included in the fee waiver.

America’s public lands provide health benefits to visitors. America’s national forests and grasslands managed by the Forest Service offer more than 150,000 miles of trails, which include hiking, biking, equestrian and motorized trails, and more than 10,000 developed recreation sites. Visitors can choose a wide variety of recreational activities using more than 57,000 miles of streams, 122 alpine ski areas, 338,000 heritage sites, 9,100 miles of National Scenic Byways, 22 National Recreation Areas, 11 National Scenic Areas, seven National Monuments, one national preserve and one national heritage area.

The fee-free program is in cooperation with other federal land management agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

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/shawneenf and 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.