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In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service celebrated the legacy of its first century of service. At that time, leaders in the Eastern Region asked "what will our legacy for the next century be?" This led to the development of a vision for the Region, which is "Courageous Conservation," a sustainable future, a legacy of restoration. Our vision has five audacious goals:
- Protect ecosystems across boundaries
- Connect citizens to the land
- Walk the talk for sustainability
- Revolutionize effectiveness and efficiency
- Be an employer of choice
The vision is being incorporated into the Eastern Region's program of work and will shape our practices and the way we complete work on-the-ground now and into the future.
The Shawnee National Forest is the largest public forested area and the only National Forest in the State of Illinois. It provides open space that is available for public access and many recreational opportunities. The Forest provides scenic landscapes, fresh air, natural beauty, quiet, peaceful and restful settings, interesting historic sites, educational and research opportunities, and many other attractions. Recreation opportunities are a major attraction for tourism and enhance the local economy of southern Illinois. Unique opportunities provided by the Forest include public big-game hunting, long distance pedestrian/equestrian trails (i.e. River-to-River Trail), orienteering, bird watching. rock-climbing/rappelling, viewing scenic natural features, beach recreation, and two National Scenic Byways (Ohio River and Great River Road). The Shawnee provides congressionally designated wilderness, candidate wild and scenic rivers and roadless areas, with the largest acreages of wilderness and roadless areas in Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest is located at the junction of five physiographic regions and at the edge of the glaciated area, which results in a wide diversity of flora and fauna, and unique geologic features. The Forest provides some of the largest and most diverse blocks of mature hardwood forest, forest interior habitat, and public openland habitats in Illinois. The Shawnee also contains the most acreage of Natural Areas in the State of Illinois, providing remnants of 25 rare natural communities in 80 Natural Areas. The Forest provides habitat for aquatic and terrestrial threatened, endangered and sensitive species, and provides an abundance of diverse habitat for game and non-game species. The Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir and Inahgeh lands provide important wetland habitats for migrating waterfowl in the Mississippi flyway. The Forest provides mature upland oak-hickory and bottomland hardwood forests that can be managed on a sustainable basis, providing wildlife habitat and the potential for timber products. The Forest includes large acreages of non-native southern pine plantations that add some scenic diversity to the landscape.
The highest quality, most scenic, and ecologically diverse streams in southern Illinois are in watersheds with a large percentage of National Forest ownership. The Shawnee includes an abundance of wetlands, floodplains and riparian areas that enhance water quality. The Forest also contains many visually attractive hydrologic features including waterfalls, lakes, ponds and rocky streams. The Shawnee National Forest has the potential for the discovery of fluorite, Tripoli and other mineral resources. Mineral exploration and development on the Forest varies by specific mineral and fluctuates over time.
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