National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance Grant

In June the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance Grant was awarded to various groups involved with the River to River Trail in the Shawnee National Forest.

This is for the River to River Trail, as a funding vehicle to get a better map, improve signage and on ground maintenance. The trail is in very poor shape in some areas, needs to be rerouted in some areas, and is going back to nature in many areas.

Friends of Shawnee, Shawnee Trail Conservancy, River to River Trail Society, and Illinois Ozark Tours will be providing cash in kind as part of this grant.

In-kind voluntary hours will be provided by Friends of Shawnee, STC, Camp Ondessonk CITs. Show Me Backcountry Horsemen, River to River Trail Society, Associated Saddle Clubs, Greencorps Chicago, Americorps, Wilderness Trail Crew Interns, Giant City Park, Shawnee Backcountry Horsemen, SIUC Touch of Nature and a few others who had not been able to commit by the deadline for the grant application to have their names added.

This projects needs to be completed by the end of November per the grant requirements.

A couple years ago the STC a new wagon trail from Double M Campground to Black Ridge Road.  The goal was to widen a few curves and repair the River to River trail so that wagons could use it to get as far as High Knob Campground. 

So as part of this grant, members worked several different weekends with their equipment to make water bars, widen narrow curves and fill in mud holes. Once this work was complete then the Forest Service provided the rock with STC providing one load and the trail was hardened and graveled where necessary. The west end of this trail has always been in an old roadway that was always wet and full of mud.

Here are some photos of the completed trail.

trail from High Knob road

r-r wagon road

second water run-off

tractor loading trailers

trail past old cabins

Our director, Angie Carter wanted to do packing as a way to help the FS maintain the trails we ride. She joined forces with Dwight Pray who has had extensive experience with packing gravel for the Shawnee Back Country Horsemen. They found others willing to help and practiced on Sept 4 to get themselves and their animals ready for the 2 big pack days planned with the Forest Service. A dozen people packed from the Herod Trailhead into the Garden of Gods Wilderness that day.

September 23 was an equestrian packing day at Lusk Creek. Gravel was hauled east on the River to River trail. Click on the link to read the FS News Release regarding the work that was done that day: FS NEWS RELEASE

Photos from that day: There were 13 people working from the STC.

men filling buckets

horses hauling buckets

Hoosier pack mule

horses packing down the trails

September 30 packing was done from the Herod Trail Head (a/k/a Hitching Rail) east into the Garden of Gods Wilderness. Total hours for the STC volunteers contributed towards this grant are over 1000 hours.

Photos from the 30th:

Clarence and Team

Dwight teaching about packing

Hooser FS teaching about packing

JD Timms with his team

We hope to have more packing days as the opportunity arises. Many of the rerouted trails in the Lusk Creek Wilderness need rocking. The Hoosier Mule team does come to work on these trails as they are scheduled. Budget plays a part in when they come to the Shawnee. Having people who are willing to pack is very important and shows the Forest Service that we care committed to maintaining and preserving our trail system.


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