Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Plans for the 5th Annual Shimek Forest Education Day

Each year FOS works with Shimek DNR staff to provide an education day about Shimek Forest, its resources and how it is managed.  This year, the program steps out---all the way to Keosauqua.
Come learn more about Lacey-Keosauqua State Park and about the Keosauqua Unit of Shimek State Forest. Meet at the Lacey-Keosauqua Park Lodge (pictured below).

Coffee and snacks at 8:30 am.  Explore the lodge and visit with friends.  The program begins at 9:00AM. Presenter Justin Lynton is the DNR Technician for both Shimek State Forest and Lacey-Keosauqua State Park. After a brief introduction to the park, we will take a hike along the Des Moines River trail down the hill to Ely Ford, with discussion along the way of the sites there, including the Indian Mounds. 

On returning to the Lodge,  the trail head for Shimek State Forest's Keosauqua Unit will be identified and the CCC statue and other features of Lacey Park discussed. Program completed about 11 AM. 

 Dress to be outdoors that morning. Free to all.  All ages welcome.  If you have any questions, Justin can be reached at  319-931-9566 or you can e-mail FOShimek@gmail.com.

Lacey-Keosauqua Lodge at Ivy Trail entrance --photo from the Friends of Lacey website

Here is a map that might help you locate the Lodge if you are not familiar with Lacey.  Google map or other electronic mapping will take you to the Park Entrance at Keosauqua where you can drive through the park as shown or you can enter by taking J40 to Ivy Trail and just as you go into the park, you will be at the Lodge.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Report on Annual FOS Dinner to Honor Volunteers

Friends of Shimek gathered at Little Mexico Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant on January 21 to honor the 2016 Volunteers. A total of 41 people volunteered 540 hours during 2016 to support Shimek State Forest trails and campground projects, despite having two of the planned work days rained out. Volunteers working 16 hours or more received bandannas, those working 8 hours or more received FOS patches and all received a Thank You card with photos of the 2016 work.

The Bennett 2016 Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Robert Achenbach on behalf of the Board by President Ann Bennett. Bob and his wife Marsha have worked at all scheduled group work days since the inception of FOS in 2011. Plus Bob has worked called work days on special projects and donated his hand-turned bowls as awards for other volunteer winners. He was presented a Certificate of Appreciation and a boot jack made by John Bennett.

Tom Basten, Southeast Iowa Parks Supervisor, spoke to the group about expected cuts in the upcoming budget and plans for the rest of this budget year.

The Board of Directors presented each DNR employee attending (sown above, l -r), Shimek Forester John Byrd, Shimek and Lacey Technician Justin Lynton, and Parks Supervisor Tom Basten with framed photos titled “May the Forest be With You” in appreciation of their support of the FOS. 

Board members joined Forester John Byrd in the photo above to present him with a Letter of Commendation. This was done in recognition of over six years of support of FOS and especially for his unflagging support this past year despite having very serious staffing shortages for several months.

Dinner attendees “passed the hat” and raised $282 toward the FOS goal of $2,000 for Wet Weather Trail support and other projects planed for 2017. A donation was also received toward this project this past week from the Shike Martin family in his memory , as Shimek held a special place in his heart—he was a career Shimek employee, retiring some years ago.

Fund-raising activities planned for 2017 include a Benefit Meal and Auction set for November 4. Bonnie Moothart, Benefit Co-Chair, is shown explaining what is planned and how to donate items for the auction. More information on that is in the post entitled " Donations Sought for November FOS Benefit Meal and Auction."

Donations Sought for November FOS Benefit Meal and Auction

Saturday, October 22, 2016

FOS 2016 Raffle Prizes Award List

Award List for FOS Raffle -- OCTOBER 22, 2016

Grand Prize: Hand-Made Quilt
Made and Donated by Bonnie Moothart
Won by Jan Lawler

Raffle Prize: Antler bottle holder
Donated by Allen and Pam Ball.
Won by Cassie Graber

Raffle Prize: Trail Walking Sticks (2)
Donated by Pam and Allen Ball
Won by Jo Watson and Mary Detwieler
(Note: Had an error here as there were two walking sticks--now corrected.)

Raffle prize: Piggy Cutting Board
Donated by Pam and Allen Ball
Won by Andrew Geerdes
Raffle Prize: Horseshoe cross
Donated by Alan Ball
Won by Mary Mettenburg

Raffle Prizes: 7 Trail Map bandannas--this one of Shimek trails. 
Donated by Iowa Parklands (See https://store.iowaparklands.com/ )
Winners were :
Kelly Britnell, Bob Bender, Bev Downey(2), Therese Dupepe, Tammy Smith, and Don Harris

Winners will be contacted with the phone numbers  on the winning tickets.
Donations and ticket sales raised $810.* for the evening, plus promises of awards to be donated for the 2017 Raffle!  *revised per final figures from FOS Treasurer

A photo collection from the evening will be in a separate posting.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Hitching Rail Pads--A Partnership

The Friends of Shimek Work Day on Sep. 13 focused on putting lime chips around all the hitching rails. Those lime chips--over 300 TONS of them--were provided by a grant from the Lee County Charitable Fund (LCCF) to improve the equestrian campgrounds by upgrading the hitching rails. LCCF funds Lee County Projects of 501c(3) organizations. Its charitable interests include community betterment. This has been a cooperative project of the LCCF, the Department of Natural Resources Shimek crew and the FOS to improve the equestrian campgrounds by packing lime chips around each hitching rail so that horses will not be standing in mud.

A wonderful crew of 15 volunteers and 2 DNR crew members hauled, dumped, spread, and smoothed lime chips around 36 hitching rails at the Shimek Campgrounds! They also cleaned out firepits, cleaned out the stalls, and worked around the campground as well as sorted recyclable and refundable materials. Work began at 8 am and everyone worked until about 2pm, with a short break for a picnic lunch.  I'm sure there were lots of sore shoulders and legs today from driving equipment or raking lime chips (They don't rake like leaves, I can tell you that!)  Many many thanks from the Board of FOS for all the hard work.

The crew paused for a photo right after lunch while standing on one of the new lime chip pads.  Pictured (left to right) are: Hannah Schau ( DNR Summer Employee), Bob Achenbach, Bill and Linda Fiordelise, Justin Lynton ( DNR Technician), Jo Watson, Pam Ball, Pat Pollpeter, Marsha Achenbach, Bob Bender, Alan Ball, Doug and Bonnie Moothart, Wayne Long, Ann Bennett, and Ray Conrad. Photo by Lora Conrad

The equipment used was provided by DNR --the one skid steer that Shimek has plus two big old tractors that Shimek has. Driving those vehicles were Doug Moothart, Ray Conrad, Bob Achenbach, Alan Ball and Justin Lynton

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Plans for FOS Group Work Day September 13, 2016

Volunteers Neded on September 13, 2016 for  FOS Group Work Day
Meet at 8:00AM in the Shimek State Forest Lick Creek Upper Campground Day Parking Area
FOS Coordinator: Lora Conrad at FOShimek@gmail.com
Task to be accomplised:
Hitching Rails:  The Lee County Charitable Fund (LCCF) has awarded FOS a grant for 2016 for a joint FOS and DNR project. The funds have been received and accomplishing the first major objective is on the schedule for our September 13th Work Day---refurbish the 37 horse tie rail pads by placing up to 6 inches of lime chips(smoothed and packed) in an area about 20 feet x 24 feet around each 10 foot tie rail. Do you have a tractor or skid-steer that can haul rocks? Bring rakes/shovels for smoothing lime chips---gloves and boots suggested to work in the lime chips.
Trails: Need mowing and some clearing of downed trees (need 2 crews for trail work). Bring 4-wheelers/chainsaws and tools and/or heavy duty walk behind or 4-wheeler pulled mowers.
Campgrounds: Post-Labor Day clean-up. Trash and recycle bags provided. Bring gloves and hand tools you want to use.

Painting: Bridge at Martin Pond and kiosk at Bitternut.

Bring Iowa deposit cans and bottles for fundraiser. Also, sort collected cans and bottles.

Questions? E-mail Lora at foshimek@gm

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August 2016 Update From Forester John Byrd Re: WWT Extension

Update from Forester John Byrd:  Status of WWT Extension

As you may have noticed when riding, we had a very big pile of road rock waiting all summer to be put on the trail. 

 This rock was provided last year through a grant from the William M. And Donna J. Hoaglin Foundation. The purpose of the rock was to extend the Wet Weather Trail (WWT) system another 2 miles to offer more areas to ride when the dirt trails are too wet. About half of the WWT trail addition was smoothed and rocked last year. But a huge rock pile sat there all winter because it was too wet near the end of last year to complete the project. This summer we have been short-staffed and had numerous days where it was again too wet in this part of the trail system to work with heavy machinery on the trail modifications without causing much damage. To convert the trail, my crew and I had to widen, smooth, fill in ditches, prepare drainage diversion cuts and otherwise prepare the trail being converted to WWT to be rocked and sustainable. 
 I am pleased to report that my crew and I have been very busy on this project and have now prepared the entire trail for rocking and put out all the rock we had on the trail.  (See photo of dump truck being used to rock the trail.)  The rock pile is gone! However, the rock covered only 1.6 miles of trail—more was needed than we first estimated. Friends of Shimek is providing the additional rock needed to complete the two sections not yet rocked (about .4 miles). We also have two areas that require culverts which DNR will provide to prevent problems in always-boggy areas. In the mean time, the rock and disturbed earth under it needs to settle and get packed down before this trail section can be used in wet weather conditions.

The newly rocked area will be open only when the dirt trails are open for the rest of this season. It looks good as you can see in the trail photo--but it is ready only for riding when dry.         

Next year, when the trail is packed from riding on it in dry conditions and the dirt has firmed up underneath, it will be added to the WWT system. This means that for the rest of this year, the only WWT is the original WWT marked on the map under activities.  The new addition we are working on, even though mostly gravel at this point, is not yet part of the WWT system. It is very important for the future of this section of our trails that all riders follow the guidelines and NOT ride this section when conditions are wet, even though it is graveled. So when riding, look at the posted WWT map with red lines marking the original WWT trail. That is currently the only WWT and the only trails to ride when the trail status is WWT-Only. We will let you know when the trails we are working on are ready for wet conditions. Enjoy riding on all the trails WHEN THEY ARE DRY.

JOHN BYRD, Area Forester

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

P 319-878-3811 john.byrd@dnr.iowa.gov
Shimek State Forest | 33653 RTE J56 | Farmington, Iowa 52626

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cookout and Raffle October 22nd

Meet Up With

Friends of Shimek State Forest Equestrian Trails, Inc. Volunteers

for a fun evening around the campfire and a raffle fundraiser.

Date: October 22, 2016 at 5:00PM

Lick Creek UPPER Campground

Camping site #27 -near the Horse Stalls

Debbie Miller, Coordinator

Come trail ride with friends and camp out over the weekend,

then join FOS for the Potluck Cookout and raffle.

                                  RAFFLE TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!!

Raffle prize: A beautiful quilt hand-made and donated by Bonnie Moothart—shown in the photo below.

Raffle Tickets are $5.00 each. You do not have to be present to win. Purchase raffle tickets from Ann Bennett, Debbie Miller, Marsha Achenbach, Ringo Covert, Lora Conrad, Bonnie Moothart, Neal Hartman or Lala O'Hara. Tickets can be ordered by mail by sending a check for the number of tickets that you want (at $5.00 per ticket) to Ann Bennett, 1913 Franklin Ave., Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641. Ann will complete the tickets for you, putting them in the drawing and sending you the stubs. Raffle tickets will also be sold on October 22nd at the campgrounds.

All funds raised will be used to improve/maintain the campgrounds or equestrian trails at Shimek.
The raffle drawing will be held at 5:00 PM BEFORE the PotLuck Dinner.

FOS will provide paper goods ---everyone bring a dish for the Potluck, your beverage of choice and don't forget your camp chairs.

In case the potluck cookout is rained out, the drawing will be still be held and the prize awarded by the FOS Board. . Check http://friendsofshimek.blogspot.com/ or Facebook Friends of Shimek page for cancellation notice or call Debbie at home 319-463-7650 or office 319-372-2218.

( FOS Board members are excluded from the drawing.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 2016 Update from Forester John Byrd

New Technicians at Shimek State Forest...     

Shimek has had an unusual year so far ---- no rain, then rain for every scheduled FOS work day and then some, and now hot conditions. The past few weeks have been
 some of the hottest for the longest stretch of time that I can remember. Without the heat and other factors being an excuse, but after several months with Ben Hassman and I as the only full time staff, we have now hired two new full-time employees
 for the Forestry Section. I'm pleased to announce the addition of Heath Fraise and Eric Martin to the DNR Shimek Forest staff as Technicians.

Heath Fraise has been working as a seasonal

Parks employee for 9 years as well as being
a farmer and a logger for a local mill.

He will be a great addition to the FORESTRY section of the DNR. 


Eric Martin has been working the last few years

as a seasonal employee for wildlife and parks.

He is a graduate of Iowa State University

with a degree in Forestry.

Eric will also be a wonderful addition to the FORESTRY section.

Both Heath and Eric grew up around the Farmington area so they are familiar with the area already. Welcome guys! This is the first time in many years that Shimek Forest has actually been fully staffed.

This is an exciting time because we have been trying to get to the equestrian trails when we have a chance and get Heath and Eric more familiarized with them. I have been out on the skidsteer getting the proposed WWT addition graded and ready for rock once the trails dry a little. Something that I hope to do this year is re-route some of the trails that have bad crossing areas or are very hard to access, unless you walk them. We have also trimmed trees on most of the roads, which was long overdue.

We will also be scheduling time to work on the project to put lime chips around the hitching rails —that will be later this year and we will need the help of Friends of Shimek for that. We appreciate the support of the Lee County Charitable Fund for the project and the commitment from FOS to help get it done.

I want to thank everyone for their patience in a year where I have been running behind, but with full staffing, we should be caught up soon.

JOHN BYRD, Area Forester

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

P 319-878-3811 john.byrd@dnr.iowa.gov
Shimek State Forest | 33653 RTE J56 | Farmington, Iowa 52626