Today was a most beautiful day in Southern IL! It's November 17 and the high today was about 60 degrees, I'm not sure the deer hunters loved the warmth as much as I did. Speaking of deer hunters, today was the Pope County Deer Festival Parade in Golconda, IL. This is an annual event that my riding buddy Chester, along with my oldest grandchild Mariah and I attend, with our horses of course. This is about the only safe riding available during shotgun season so we take advantage of it. As usual it was a well attended parade with many high school bands, politicians, festival queens and of course the "Little Miss and Misters".
All in all a very enjoyable afternoon that includes a BBQ sandwich and then the short ride through the parade route.
What I would most like to mention about today is the handout given to me by "Sophie", a rather pleasant four legged with very long ears, a hat with flowers and an owner with a feed bucket full of information from Sophie. For those of you who are Farm Bureau members I'm sure you are already familiar with Sophie and her "Sophie Says" column. You see, dear old Sophie is responsible for keeping many Southern Illinoisans up to date on the goings on in the Shawnee Forest. So in an attempt to help Sophie out a little, I'm going to post her latest update. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
The Forest Service LACKS FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY!
Why should YOU have to pay?
1. The Forest Service has lost MILLIONS in timber sales.
2. The Forest Service is spending $5 MILLION on a complex to replace the Vienna facility.
3. The Forest Service uses your tax dollars!
4. The Forest Service charges you for bridle tags!
The Forest Service has closed trails, and shut off water! Trailheads have not been mowed! Sanitation facilities have been eliminated or are non-existent!
...AND NOW the Forest Service wants to charge you $5 a day to ride the Shawnee Forest!
...AND NOW the Forest Service wants to charge you $50 a year to ride the Shawnee National Forest!
Sophie says, "We'll pay MORE and get LESS!
That's the U.S. Forest Service way!!!"
SOPHIE SAYS: "Ask the right questions!"
Trail Rider: Please consider asking the following questions about the proposed fees for trail riders.
1. According to the Shawnee National Forest website, "By far the greatest year-round use on the Shawnee National Forest
is horseback riding." DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?
2. WHY SUCH A HIGH ANNUAL FEE ($50) when the Hoosier National Forest charges only $25 and the Land Between the
Lakes charges only $60 per TRAILER LOAD, not per person.
3. WHY IS THERE NO SENIOR DISCOUNT?
4. Current policy states that after a 1" rain in the Wilderness, trails are closed for a minimum of 24 hours. HOW DO YOU
PLAN TO REFUND PARTIAL FEES FOR DAYS LOST DUE TO THIS POLICY?
5. Many riders live on property that borders the Lusk Creek Wilderness Watershed. HOW WILL REDUCTION IN THEIR RIDING
FEES BE CALCULATED, SINCE SUPT. NICHOLAS CLOSES THIS WILDERNESS AT LEAST 1 OUT OF 3 DAYS PER YEAR?
6. Since fees are supposed to be used for trail maintenance, IS SUPT. NICHOLAS WILLING TO MAIL AN AUDIT OF EXPENSES
AND WORK DONE TO JUDGE GILBERT AND TO ANY CITIZEN WHO MAKES A REQUEST?
7. Since the Shawnee National Forest has so many chiefs, WOULDN'T IT BE WISE TO HIRE MORE INDIANS, REDUCE THE
NUMBER OF CHIEFS, AND THEN MAINTAIN THE TRAILS?
8. Other National Forests do not have a limit on un-ridden horses (pack/pony), so WHY ARE YOU USING THIS RESTRICTION
IN THE SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST?
9. Knowing that all monies for the U.S. Forest Service comes from the same pot, HOW CAN YOU JUSTIFY SUCH A POOR
TRAIL SYSTEM AND THE BUILDING OF A NEW MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR COMPLEX IN VIENNA?
10.Considering how unpopular the Forest Service is with, not only the trail riders, but environmentalists and hikers,
and how services leave much to be desired, HOW CAN YOU ASK THE PUBLIC TO PAY A USER FEE WITH A CLEAR
HIKERS! TRAIL RIDERS! ROCK CLIMBERS!
If you are recreating in YOUR Shawnee Nation Forest, be prepared to pay as much as $50 annually to do so!
Even though the Shawnee National Forest has lost MILLIONS in timber sales and is spending MILLIONS on a new facility at Vienna, THE AGENCY WANTS TO CHARGE YOU MORE!
Even though the Forest Service uses your tax dollar and you still have to purchase bridle tags, THE AGENCY WANTS TO CHARGE YOU MORE!
The Forest Service has CLOSED trails, SHUT OFF water, REMOVED tables and trash cans, left trail heads UNMOWED and
ELIMINATED or not provided sanitation facilities! THE AGENCY WANTS TO CHARGE YOU MORE!
People, if you do not like what's going on...then you need to take a few minutes and express your thoughts
and feelings on the subject of FEES for the Shawnee National Forest.
For the price of one soda, you can potentially save yourself $50 per year.
Purchase two stamps!
Write down your thoughts and ideas about fees!
Send copy #1 to:
Recreation Advisory Committee
% Region 9
626 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Send Copy #2 to:
Congressman John Shimkus
110 E. Locust
Harrisburg, IL 62946
Sophie says, "If you don't do this, no one is going to do it for you!"
I THINK SOPHIE MAKES A LOT OF SENSE! IF YOU ENJOY RIDING OR CLIMBING OR HIKING IN THE SHAWNEE FOREST, IT'S TIME
TO TAKE A STAND!!! STOP WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS PROBLEM AND WRITE THOSE LETTERS!
Make your voice heard, if we don't all speak up NOW, we stand to loose more and more. It doesn't matter if you live in Southern Illinois or not, if you enjoy spending time in the Shawnee, please take this opportunity to speak your mind on the subject of fees. Please don't wait, do it now, please.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
There seems to be a lot going on in Southern IL this month! Saturday, November 3, one of our Sundance Chiefs came down from
Chicago to meet up with two singers/drummers and a female singer/Sundancer from Indiana, along with myself, for a presentation to a middle school class in Metropolis. It was a beautiful day, bright blue sky, warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. We all met up in Metropolis and we were joined by Larry Yazzie, Meskwaki/Dine' Pow Wow Dancer from Minnesota.
Our Chief, Dale "Bear" Copeland spoke to the crowd, of approximately 50, about our Dance, the spirituality aspect and a bit about the ceremony involved with Sundance. We attempted to build a sweat lodge but due to the recent dry weather the willows were a little difficult to work with and we certainly couldn't peel the bark as is the traditional and proper way to prepare the willows. So, due to un-peelable bark and time constraints, we only constructed the frame of the lodge and then described how it should be completed and the purpose for the lodge. The original plan was for me to talk about the Cherokee People and the Trail of Tears. Again, due to a lack of time, I did not have the opportunity to speak. Hopefully, next year we will again be invited to Metropolis and will be better prepared to make better use of out time allotment.
When we were told that Mr. Yazzie was ready (and waiting) in the gym for his performance, everyone moved inside and our part of the presentation was over. Mr. Yazzie is a very skilled and entertaining dancer/performer. While there was a huge difference in his performance and our presentation, I feel that the young people and adults in attendance learned something new about Native culture and spirituality. This was a very interesting experience and I was happy to be a part of it, even if my part was left out I still enjoyed the opportunity just to be a part of the presentation.
If any of you out there have the opportunity to participate in, either as a presenter or an attendee, of one or more of the many programs about Native Americans this month, please do it! This is the perfect time to learn more yourself or to help others learn more about the First People of America. Enjoy!