Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 30, 2014

Shimek State Forest to get trail upgrade worth $10,000

Feb 06, 2013

Pathfinders RC&D is honored to have been chosen as the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Hoaglin Foundation for much needed trail work at Shimek State Forest. Pathfinders worked closely with the forester and volunteer organization at Shimek to identify this need and apply for the funds.

Pathfinders RC&D works on a wide variety of projects benefiting communities and organizations in southeast Iowa. One of their projects is the development of Historic Hills Scenic Byway. The Byway is proud to have one of Iowa’s state forests as an attraction for travelers.

“I will do whatever I can to help promote and improve the attractions along our Byway,” said Byway Coordinator, Katy Anderson. “After speaking with forester John Byrd and attending only one Friends of Shimek meeting, it was clear that we could help.”

Shimek State Forest has more than 50 miles of trails running through Van Buren and Lee Counties. These trails support hikers, bikers, backpackers and even horseback riders. In addition, the forest offers hunting, fishing, boating, picnicking, camping and over 9,000 acres of forest land. With visitors from all around southeast Iowa, the state and even national and international visitors, Shimek is clearly a hidden jewel nestled in the rolling hills of southeast Iowa.

With severely declining budgets, the forester just could not see how his small contribution of gravel would help improve the heavily weathered and degrading trails. Knowing that Shimek is an under-utilized attraction along the Byway, Pathfinders stepped in as a local non-profit with a vested interest in preserving and improving the forest and what it has to offer and wrote a grant to the Hoaglin Foundation requesting assistance.

In addition to improving the trails, the gravel purchased with this grant will also benefit this natural resource, by slowing the erosion process.

The funds from the Hoaglin Foundation will be used to purchase more than 600 tons of gravel. Once purchased, the gravel must be spread. This is where the Friends of Shimek group, Shimek employees and many others will enter the picture.

It is projected that more than 50 hours of volunteer time will be needed to transport and spread the gravel. Along with the use of equipment located at the forest, volunteers will bring in ATVs with carts as well as shovels and strong backs.

Anybody interested in helping with this project may contact Friends of Shimek State Forest or call 319-878-3811. Work will begin as soon as weather permits.

Pathfinders is a nonprofit organization that assists local communities with initiatives related to economic development, natural resource conservation and recreation. Pathfinders has been serving Jefferson, Van Buren, Mahaska, Keokuk, Davis and Wapello counties since 1978. To learn more, contact Pathfinders by calling 641-472-6177 or visit www.PathfindersRCD.org.

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