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Volunteer helps Forest Service improve Pine Hills Campground

Forest Service staff and a volunteer from Jeep’NShawnee club are building a new picnic shelter at Pine Hills Campground.


“We come here quite a bit and wanted to help in preserving and improving this place so that everyone in the future can enjoy it,” said Joe Santhoff, president of Jeep’NShawnee, who volunteered his time to construct the shelter.


Jeep’NShawnee is a group of people who seek out backcountry roads and those less traveled for pleasure driving. Santhoff says club members meet on Shawnee National Forest about six times a year. They explore the backcountry and come to the forest for its beautiful forested roads, such as those found at Pine Hills. The club also hopes to start an Adopt-A-Road partnership with Shawnee National Forest, where club members will come out and help clear bush along roads, mostly on the west side of the forest. Jeep’N Shawnee started about two years ago on Facebook, and its current membership includes about 350 people.


“The picnic shelter will be a welcomed addition to the facilities here,” says Chad Deaton,the forest’s District Recreation and Lands Program Manager. “The campground stays full during the peak of squirrel and deer hunting seasons, and we wanted to get it builtin time for that.”


Although squirrel season starts August 1, the height of the season is late September and October, and groups of people meet and camp at Pine Hills to squirrel hunt and enjoy the Shawnee. The shelter, which will be completed later this month, will house six picnic tables and a party-size grill. It is located in an open area between campsites.


There are nine campgrounds on Shawnee National Forest, along with several picnic areas and boat launches across southern Illinois. At most campgrounds, a nominal fee is charged for camping. The Recreation Enhancement Act authorizes a percentage of the money collected by each national forest’s fee sites to be set aside in a special fund only to be used in their fee sites. As much as 95 percent of the fees collected goes into this special fund. Recreation fees contribute to providing and enhancing recreation sites, facilities, and services.  Visitors benefit directly from the fees they pay. This Pine Hills project was made possible because of recreation fees collected on Shawnee National Forest.