The Shawnee is Illinoisí only National Forest and the stateís largest tract of public land (approx. 287,000 acres). Located in the unglaciated hills of far southern Illinois, the Shawnee extends from the Ohio River on the east to the Mississippi River on the west. From oak-hickory forests, to hill prairies, to seep springs, the Shawnee is one of the most biologically diverse places in the country. More than 500 wildlife species can be found within the Forest, including 48 mammals, 237 birds, 52 reptiles, 57 amphibians, and 109 species of fish. There are seven federally listed threatened and endangered species inhabiting the Forest, as well as 33 species that are considered regionally sensitive. The Forest contains seven Congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas, four National Natural Landmarks, 10 Research Natural Areas, and more than 80 other designated Natural Areas considered important for botanical, ecological, geological or zoological reasons.
Shawnee Forest Defenders receive Shawnee updates through an electronic newsletter six times a year and action alerts as needed. Sign up today to start receiving the Shawnee Defender Newsletter.
The Shawnee Campaign serves to closely monitor activities and management of the Forest in order to identify threats and find solutions, and is also actively engaged in a proposal to designate three additional Wilderness Areas. Volunteer opportunities abound for activists wishing to engage in the Shawnee Forest Campaign.
WILD ILLINOIS: Shawnee Campaign Committee Projects
The Shawnee Committee works to protect existing Wilderness Areas from threats such as illegal motorized vehicle use and the spread of non-native invasive species. The Committee is also currently engaged in a proposal to have additional areas designated as Wilderness. To find out more about the Shawnee Wilderness Campaign visit the Illinois Wilderness web site.
The Committee ensures that the Forest Service implements its management plans using sound forest stewardship practices that serve the publicís best interests.
Non-Native Invasive Species
Invasive plants such as garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle and insects such as emerald ash borer threaten the biological diversity and integrity of the Shawnee. The Committee works closely with the Forest Service and other organizations to help educate the public about the growing problem of invasive species and to help coordinate efforts to inventory, monitor and stop their spread.
The Shawnee is such a fantastic place to recreate that the Forest Service has developed a designated trail system in the most popular areas. The Committee cooperated with the Forest Service in the development the initial Trails Designation Plan and looks forward to working on additional plans. Prior to designated trails, off-trail horse riding was causing considerable erosion and resource damage in many areas. The Committee is active in promoting the benefits of designated trails for horse riding and encourages volunteer efforts in trail building and maintenance.
Shawnee Campaign Volunteer Opportunities
Unless otherwise noted, direct all inquiries about volunteer opportunities to the Shawnee Committee
- Serve on Shawnee Forest Campaign Committee
- The committee stays up-to-date on the latest Forest management activities; analyzes them for compatibility with Sierra Club policy; develops positions on management proposals; drafts comments on behalf the Club when necessary; and sends Action Alerts to volunteer activists when needed.
- The committee oversees the Clubís Shawnee Wilderness Campaign
- The committee convenes a monthly conference call with occasional email discussion between calls.
- Wilderness advocate and educator
- Find and help arrange venues for showing the Wilderness PowerPoint or DVD presentation.
- Distribute Wilderness brochure and fact sheets at tabling events.
- Organize a Wilderness House Party where you will show the Wilderness DVD and then ask your guests to write post cards or letters to their Congressional Reps.
- Weed Watch Citizen Scientist Volunteer
- Volunteers are trained to identify non-native invasive plant species (NNIS) and map NNIS locations in the forest using GPS technology.
- Trails and Service
- Adopt an area to monitor for trail damage, illegal ATV use, non-native invasive species, etc.
- Volunteer for litter clean up on trails and at trailheads. Email Bob Tyson.
- Participate in the annual Spring Service in the Shawnee outing. (Working on page to link to.)
- Work with Shawnee Committee to organize your own service outing in the Shawnee.
Additional opportunities can be found on the Shawnee National Forest web site