Sunday, May 6, 2018

WORKDAY MAY 23, 8:00 A.M.

FIRST workday of the season!!  Lots to do, please come and help out!  We have a great time, and the feeling of accomplishment is GREAT.  We will be sorting cans, cleaning up campsites, clearing trails,  painting things, and whatever else John Byrd and coordinator Ringo Covert will come up with!

Wear work clothes, bring gloves, a sack lunch and meet for volunteer sign in, signing liability forms, and to volunteer for tasks at 8 a.m.   We will work until about noon, meet for lunch and John Byrd will bring us up to date on what is happening.

Hoping to see you that day!!!!  Email us at

Friday, March 16, 2018

UpDate on new DAY PARKING areas

UPDATE: The new day parking areas are coming along GREAT. The Lee County Charitable Foundation grant and the money made by FOS from the November benefit are financing the work. The DNR staff worked on it, cutting trees and getting all the state approvals and the plan is to complete construction later this spring. 

Note also that after it is completed, it must settle and get both firm and dry and layered with specific gravel sizes before we can begin using it. Forester Byrd will keep us posted as to when it can be used. 

These photos were taken by Forester Byrd, showing the progress.He wrote: "Lower parking lot is dozed and leveled out.  (See Pictures) There is a brush pile in the middle that needs to be burned yet but it looks magnificent. Lower parking lot is dozed and leveled out.  (See Pictures) There is a brush pile in the middle that needs to be burned yet but it looks magnificent."  The photos below are all of the Lower Campground Day Parking Area to be!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dust Control? Need your input!

WooHoo... almost riding season!!  The Friends of Shimek Board of Directors is in the process of considering and applying for dust control to be applied by the campgrounds.  It is not an inexpensive process, but if it is high on the list of campers and riders, we would like to know. In the past we have done just the road by the Upper campground. Write us at with the following information which we will fully consider!  Thanks in advance for your important input!

Do you ride/camp at the Lick Creek unit in the summer time?
        Upper or Lower campground, or both?

How important is dust control to you?

Would you consider pitching in to assist in paying for it?  The cost would be $426 per application, for ONE campground areas. (Edited:  Sorry for the error!)

Do you have suggestions for companies that apply it and the success/cost of the various different materials to apply?  Tree sap, calcium chloride, soy oil, etc.

Looking forward to your responses!!  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Report on FOS Annual Volunteer Recogniton Dinner and 2018 Board of Directors --Jan. 20, 2018

The Friends of Shimek Board of Directors, FOS Volunteers and DNR Southeast Area Parks Supervisor Tom Basten, and Shimek Forester John Byrd met at little Mexico in Mt; Pleasant Iowa on Jan 20th for the annual Dinner and Recognition Program for FOS Volunteers.   The attendees are pictured below prior to enjoying their meal.


After the meal, Tom Basten and John Byrd each spoke to the group.  Shimek Forester John Byrd reported on the accomplishments of the Shimek DNR Crew and FOS  this past year and plans for completing the two new equestrian parking areas this year.  Shimek Forest is now a part of the Southeast Area of the Parks Bureau under Supervisor Tom Basten.   Tom Basten reported to the group on the upcoming budget for DNR.  While the state budget is getting smaller and smaller, due to increases in camping, the incoming revenue to Parks state wide is up, which helps the Parks budget.  He is hopeful that a DNR Technician can be hired for Lacey and Shimek (shared assignment) again.   Tom Basten (left)and John Byrd (right) are shown speaking to the Friends of Shimek at dinner.

The FOS gavel was passed from President Ann Bennett to in-coming President Ringo Covert at the beginning of the program.

 He introduced the 2018 Board to the attendees.  Changes on the  Board included the addition of Bonnie Moothart who is now Secretary/Editor and the addition of Jo Watson as an additional Board Member at Large.    The members of the 2018 FOS Board of Directors pictured below (left to right) are: Ann Bennett, Past-President; Ringo Covert, President; Bonnie Moothart, Secretary; Jo Watson; Marsha Achenbach, Vice President; Debbie Miller, Treasurer; John Byrd, DNR Board Advisor; Neal Hartman; and Lora Conrad.

Selected as the Bennett Volunteers of the Year for 2017 were Bill & Linda Fiordelise.  They have been reliable, hard-working volunteers at many work days over the past years.  If you have volunteered--you have almost certainly worked with Bill and Linda.  They were presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Board, and a lovely hand turned wooden Bowl made and donated by Bob Achenbach as well as dinner  at the awards program, funded by a donation from Ann & John Bennett.  The award was presented by FOS President Ringo Covert.

Bonnie Moothart was presented with a special award by the Board in recognition of her valuable leadership this past year in planning, and making happen the Fund Raiser in November which yielded about $9,000 for FOS to use in future projects to support the campgrounds and the equestrian trails at Shimek.  She was presented with a special Super Star plaque with personal notes from 2017 Board Members, a candle holder and a gift certificate from TSC--which will no doubt go for horse supplies.
Awards were made to Ross O'Day and Susan Meinhardt for their outstanding work this past summer as DNR Shimek Summer Staff, including extra volunteer time..  These were insulated winter vests with the FOS Volunteer patch sewn on them and their names embroidered on the vests.  We hope they will send  a photo of themselves wearing the vests as they could not be present that night.  Volunteer awards,  made possible by a donation from Ray & Lora Conrad, were presented to all volunteers for 2017.  Fifteen people who volunteered 18 hours or more were awarded a FOS Volunteer notebook, a patch for their vest, and a Thank You card.  Patches for vests and Thank You cards were provided to all who volunteered 8 hours or more and the rest of the 51 volunteers were sent a Thank You card for their support this past year.  All together, they volunteered over 1,000 hours to FOS and Shimek Forest this past year.   

Denise Schieffer was presented a Certificate of Appreciation by the Board and a lovely southwestern style blanket in recognition of her support for FOS and the equestrian community through her leadership of the Iowa Trail Riders Association for many years.  The organization has disbanded, but the impact of Denise's support for trails and equestrians will long be felt.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Announcement of January 20th Annual FOS Dinner

You are invited to join the Friends of Shimek Board of Directors in recognizing our 2017 Volunteers and in planning for 2018.  We've had a great year—come celebrate with us. Guests for the evening will include Tom Basten, DNR Southeast Iowa District Parks Supervisor and John Byrd, Shimek Forester.  Both will give updates on DNR plans for the coming year that will impact Shimek State Forest, the campgrounds and equestrian trails.

Meet at 4:00 PM January 20th at Little Mexico on the square in Mt. Pleasant.  We will meet in the upstairs private dining area. 

A special menu selection for us includes a choice of shrimp enchiladas, chicken fajitas, steak fajitas or salmon and vegetables for $12.95.  This does not include drinks, dessert, tax or tip.  We are not charged to reserve this room, nor is there a standard tip calculated on the bill so please keep this in mind when calculating your tip.   There are several vegetarian options on the menu like vegetarian tacos, soup and salads.  You may order off the menu if you like.  However, ordering ahead does help the kitchen get the meals prepared in a timely fashion for our large gathering.  Please  email        to RSVP if you are attending, and with your menu selection.   Tables and place settings, water glasses, chips and salsa are set up ahead of time so an accurate number in attendance is helpful. Let us know if possible by Jan. 18th!   

We hope you can come join us for a winter evening with your hiking, camping or horse riding friends.  We can reminisce about dry trails, sunny days and fine horses.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Update as of 11/10/17 Message from Forester and Benefit Photo Link

Friends of Shimek Update     November 10. 2017

Message from Shimek Forester John Byrd:

Hello Friends,

Fall colors are fading, daylight is shortening, and equestrian riding is slowing which means that winter is coming fast.  With all these changes it means that we have the opportunity to look back on the past few months and see what was accomplished.   Many of you have shown overwhelming support for Shimek State Forest, both trails and campgrounds, by attending workdays, donating funds, helping raise funds, and promoting pride in the Forest.

This spring we opened the second section of the Wet Weather Trail which the Shimek DNR Crew had worked on for over a year. It was made possible by the support of the William M and Donna J. Hoaglin Foundation, Inc. Over the summer, the Shimek DNR crew replaced several hitching rails and a manure bunker and did trail work (water diversions, smoothing, clearing, widening, mowing ) on several stretches of trail that hadn't received management in a few years.

Shimek DNR, Friends of Shimek, and Lee County Charitable Fund (LCCF) have undertaken a joint project to establish two new parking lots in Lick Creek to better accommodate horse trailer rigs.  One will be an expansion of the current parking lot in the Upper Campground.  The other is on the left down the hill to the Lower Campground.  Lack of parking for day riders, especially on weekends, has been an ongoing issue with the rise in popularity of Shimek's trail system. This should help tremendously.  These parking lots are not cheap to construct! Thanks to a grant from the LCCF and the FANTASTIC fundraising of the Friends of Shimek, we are going to make this venture successful.  Thank you to everyone who supported the Benefit Meal and Auctions this past weekend but especially the Volunteers who put countless hours into making it a success. Event Coordinators Bonnie Moothart and Ann Bennett were not only behind the success of the fundraiser—but “on it” all year!   

It is very important as we look to next year that we remain diligent on trail management.    We also plan some slight additions/improvements to the trail system as well.  The Shimek DNR Crew has several re-routes planned to make riding and access for trail management easier.  Please stay tuned for further information on those changes.  

I want to thank everyone who rides at Shimek that goes that extra mile of picking up trash, moving a small downed tree, or reporting to DNR a problem on the trails.  I have learned over the years that there are hundreds of riders that do these things because they take pride in how the trails look and never mention it to anyone.  Thank you to everyone for a successful season of riding.  I will spend the rest of my winter in the woods on forest management, knowing trails, campgrounds, and facilities are ready for next year.

Very appreciative,

John Byrd, Forester

FOS Benefit Meal and Auctions
The FOS Benefit Meal and Auctions was held Saturday November 4th at the River Valley Lodge.  Thanks to many many hours by Event  Coordinator Bonnie Moothart and FOS President Ann Bennett with a lot of back up from Doug Moothart, the FOS Board, hard working volunteers and all the many many donors, attendees, and bidders --WE DID IT!  OVER $9,000 RAISED (gross income).  This money will be used to match or fund projects planned by Forester John Byrd to improve the Forest trails and campgrounds as he discussed above.  A sampling of the photos from the event can be seen at the link below.

  Take a look a them--if you were there, you may be in one or more!

Anyone that missed the benefit and would like to help FOS -- please send a check to Debbie Miller, FOS Treasurer, c/o Lee County Bank, 2501 Avenue L, Ft. Madison, IA 52627.  Your help is much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Message regarding trails 10-11-2017

Message from Forester John Byrd:
"Currently (10-11-2017) the trails at Shimek are OPEN.  The forecast for this weekend (10-13 to 10-15) is looking like it could be a wet one with estimated rainfall amounts close to an inch.  Trail status could change on Saturday in a moments notice.  This is just a courtesy informational post to those coming to ride trails at Shimek State Forest.  Up to date trail information can be found by calling 319-878-3811 or online at
Thank you"

New Equestrian Day Parking Project gets underway!

  The Lee County Charitable Fund, DNR Shimek staff and FOS are jointly embarking upon a project to expand the equestrian day parking in the Upper Campground and to add an equestrian day parking lot near the Lower Campground. LCCF has awarded $5,000; FOS must raise at least an additional $4,000 which we are hoping to complete by the end of the night on Nov. 4 when we hold the Benefit Meal and Auction.

 The DNR Shimek crew has just begun the first step of this project---the clearing of the trees from the areas to be made into equine parking. On Monday, before the Tuesday rain, they removed the trees currently on the area adjacent to the day parking in the upper campground which will become expanded day parking. THANK YOU to Forester John Byrd for his planning and work to assure that we have adequate day parking at both campgrounds...and for the photos of the work being done. Follow us here or on Facebook for updates as it progresses---hoping for completion in May 2018---weather cooperating.

First step completed---trees cleared from area for day parking at Upper Campground.

Monday, October 2, 2017

FOS Update as of 10-1-17 Sept. Work Day Follow-up and Day-Parking Project

September 28th Workday Report

At the FOS Work Day on 9/28, there were 14 volunteers and five DNR Shimek crew to tackle the jobs needing done. Volunteers were Marsha Achenbach, Bob Achenbach, Ringo Covert, Jo Watson, Kathy Collins, Jeff Collins, Linda Fiordelise, Bill Fiordelise, Bonnie Moothart, Doug Moothart, Pat Pollpeter, Billie Dilsaver, Mary Doyle and Lora Conrad. The Shimek DNR Crew working with the volunteers were Forester John Byrd, Ben Hassman, Eric Martin, Heath Fraise, and Susan Meinhardt. The work of all is much appreciated!  Shown below is Forester John Byrd making work assignments for the morning.

Forester John Byrd assigned two crews of two ATV's each to take chain saws and clear trees that had recently fallen on both dirt trails and the WWT. Several people including Linda, Mary and Lora walked trails out of the campgrounds with loppers to cut back roses and carried trash bags and pickers to retrieve those cans and bottles thoughtlessly tossed back into the briars.  Ringo and Doug are shown here removing a tree across the WWT.  Photo by Bonnie Moothart.

In camp, recyclable and refundable cans and bottles collected in the deposit bins were sorted by Marsha and Kathy shown at work below and fire pits were cleaned –Pat, Billie, and Susan worked on this in both campgrounds.  The Mootharts took the cans to Ann then Ann Bennett took the cans to recycle and received $104 for the FOS treasury.

DNR crew had begun work on the lime chips in all the horse stalls by breaking up the hard pan so that volunteers could rake the lime chips into more nearly flat surfaces (getting rid of pot holes created by horses). Toilet facilities in both campgrounds were pressure washed by Jeff Collins and John Byrd...a difficult job but much appreciated by campers.  Pat Pollpeter and Billie Dilsaver cleaned out firepits.

After a morning of work, all gathered for a lunch of soup and sandwiches, an update from John Byrd on the new day parking project and an update from Bonnie Moothart on the Benefit Meal and Auctions scheduled Nov. 4 to raise matching funds for that project and for other work needed on the trails.

YOU can still help!

Much was accomplished but we never quite get finished—can't retrieve trash from 26 miles in one morning. But if riders will help when they are there---the trails could be completely cleared up—so when you are riding, if you see trash and cans on a section, take an hour and clean up a section of trail. Let us know when you do this, and we'll include you in the Shimek volunteer report! Just send your name, date and time worked at Shimek and what you did to Any photos of you working on the trails or in the campgrounds will also be appreciated.

Day-Parking Project

The Lee County Charitable Fund has made a grant to FOS for the development of additional day-parking at the Upper Campground and for a new day-parking lot at the Lower Campground.  The grant amount is for $5,000.  FOS very much appreciates this generous grant.  However, the two new parking areas will require clearing trees, smoothing and packing ground, purchasing and spreading rock and lime chips, packing these and other related work to provide two suitable, well-drained  day-parking areas for trucks with horse-trailers  that can be used with only a small amount of annual  maintenance for many years to come.  The estimate of the cost is at least $9,000 total.  Forester John Byrd and his crew will clear trees and oversee the dozer work paid for by the grant.  Work will begin about the end of October and, weather permitting, it will be completed by early May.  However, there are no funds in the DNR Shimek budget for the amount of rock and lime chips needed.  FOS is committed to raising the matching funds for the project and additional funds to provide the rock needed for trail repairs on Wet Weather Trail maintenance. Remember, there is no charge to use the day-parking areas.  However, they are not to be used for overnight camping---campsites are already provided for that purpose.

Benefit Meal and Auctions for Friends of Shimek

For the latest photos of the almost 100 items to auction by the auctioneer, the silent auction items and the details of the meal, go to Facebook Friends of Shimek State Forest Equestrian Trails and check out the Event for November 4th--meal starts at 5:00PM, auction at 6:30.  It is being held at the Lodge at River Valley campground.  Bonnie Moothart and Ann Bennett are coordinating the fundraiser.

See you November 4th!!

Lora Conrad

FOS Secretary/Newsletter Editor

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

FOS Work Day Sept. 28, 2017


September 28th WORK DAY –


Come join other friends of Shimek at 8am at the Lick Creek Lower Campground on Thursday, Sept. 28th at the gravel circle as you first arrive at the campground. Forester John Byrd will give us an update on what is happening at Shimek. Then he will assign work day tasks, volunteers will sign liability forms ( if needed) and volunteer log. After a morning of work, all will return to the Lower Campground at noon to report back on progress, then rest a while with friends. Light lunch provided for all by Lora Conrad, Work Day Coordinator. Water provided. Remember—no previous volunteer experience necessary.

Please RSVP to FOS by email so we have an idea of who is coming and what you are bringing for tools and equipment. If pouring rain (Oh we do hope for that before then we are so DRY!), then the work day may be cancelled. Any change in work day status will be promptly posted on FB and the FOS Blog as well. If there is a change, anyone who has advised us they are coming will be contacted via e-mail or phone.

Primary goals for the day are both campground and trail work. Campground work includes clean up of fire pits, campsites and stalls, can and bottle sorting, and some painting yet to be done. Trail work needed that can be done using your ATV, on foot or on horseback includes trash/can pick-up, cutting back multi-flora that intrudes on the trails (can use loppers, weedeaters, or walk-behind mowers), clipping back overgrowth on narrower trails with loppers, and removing dangerous limbs that could jab riders. Let us know what you want to work on and we will discuss what supplies you might need to bring and what DNR or FOS can supply. Paint and trash bags will be provided by DNR. FOS has loppers. Don't forget your blaze orange Friends of Shimek work vest if you have one. There will be some loaners available to identify all of us as volunteers.

We look forward to having you with us that morning. We will all return to camp at Noon to report back and enjoy lunch with friends. Lunch and water will be provided. Most work is expected to be finished by noon.

Cautionary note: There have been multiple reports of “ground bees” or yellowjackets —so if you have a serious allergy to the stings of bees or wasps, do not plan to work on the trails.

Assistance Needed for the Benefit Meal and Auction Nov. 4.

Bonnie Moothart, who is coordinating the benefit, will be at the September work day—clip board in hand---to sign us all up for whatever jobs we can do to help make the fundraiser a big success. So—if you can plan on helping prepare on Nov. 3 or during the set-up, during and after the auction on Nov. 4---please talk to Bonnie. This includes food donations such as that great homemade pie you always make for special occasions. Or that extra saddle or piece of furniture or art work you are willing to part with to help raise money for the new day parking areas at both campgrounds and for other improvements. If you can help and won't be there on the 28th—contact her as described below.

See you September 28th!