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Photo: USFS Burden Falls Wilderness

Shawnee National Forest

The Shawnee National Forest is located in the Ozark and Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois. It consists of about 280,000 acres of federally managed lands scattered from the Mississippi to the Ohio River. And is also the single largest publicly owned body of land in the state of Illinois. The land was purchased in 1939 specifically for the forest regrowth of the Shawnee. But most of the land was exhausted farmland. As the forest grew back, a plan was designed to maintain and enhance the forest’s unique biodiversity made in collaboration with many environmental and public groups. The forest has a range of habitats including upland forest, bottomland forest, woodlands, barrens, swamp, seep, cliffs, glades, caves. Between 352,000 and 132,000 years ago, there was a glacier that covered all but the southern tip of Illinois. An ice sheet slid and melted away carving away the land that we now see in the Shawnee. Southern Illinois is a central location in the Midwest where people travel to recreate. There is horseback riding, backpacking, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, paddling, rock climbing, nature viewing, etc. Southern Illinois a hidden gem.

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