Saturday, August 18, 2018

Work Day Scheduled August 22, 2018

The last scheduled Friends of Shimek Volunteers Group Work Day for 2018 is scheduled for August 22nd in the Lower Campground at the small loop as you enter the campground. Marsha Achenbach is the Work Coordinator for the day. Lunch will be provided by Lora Conrad. Work planned for the day includes clearing trails of trees or limbs, lopping back overgrown multi-flora roses, and picking up trash beside the trails. In the campgrounds, work planned includes cleaning out firepits, paiintng some tables and painting he restroom facilities.

Volunteers may bring ATV's for the day to use for trail work.

Bring your recyclable cans and bottles from home to add to our recycle fundraiser. 

Enjoy helping keep our campgrounds clean and our trails in good shape, and making new friends over your work and lunch. Forester Byrd will assign work tasks and give all an update on what is happening at Shimek Forest.

FOS President Ringo Covert is shown preparing to head off to the trails on the last work day. .

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ann Bennett to receive the Governor's Volunteer Award on August 1, 2018.

Coordinated by Volunteer Iowa, the Governor's Volunteer Award program—now in its 35th year— recognizes the dedicated people who volunteer their time and talent to help fulfill the missions of Iowa nonprofits, charitable organizations, and government entities. Ann will receive the award for her service with Friends of Shimek State Forest. The Award Program will be held at Bridge View Center in Ottumwa on August 1, 2018 at 11:15 AM. All friends of Ann are invited to attend. The members of the Board of Directors of Friends of Shimek extend congratulations to Ann on this well-deserved honor.

Friends are invited to join Ann after the award program for lunch in her honor at Appanoose Rapids, which is just across the river from the Bridge View at 332 E Main St., Ottumwa. If you plan to attend the lunch after the awards program, please let Lora Conrad know so that the reservation will have seating for all that attend. E-mail her at

Ann Bennett: Governor's Volunteer Award Nomination Excerpt

Ann Bennett has spent her 27 years in Iowa volunteering to make the lives of children, horses and riders better in significant ways. Her volunteerism has included serving as a County Board of Education member, leading an effort to build a new high school, improving rider safety in 4-H clubs, horse rescue efforts and other volunteer activities supporting children and horses. One of those volunteer projects to which she has dedicated much time, energy and heart has been the Friends of Shimek State Forest (FOS). FOS is an all volunteer, non-profit organization to support Shimek Forest. It was formed when the state was considering closing equestrian trails such as those at Shimek Forest. Ann and other local equestrians wanted very much to save those trails from closure as they are a popular outdoor activity for families in Iowa, especially in southeastern Iowa. She and a small cadre of like-minded volunteers, working with Shimek Area Forester John Byrd formed the group to preserve the equestrian trails and protect the forest. FOS was the first friends group in Iowa formed to support a state forest. Ann sought and obtained the support of the Great River Classical Horsemanship Association, the Iowa Trail Riders Association and Iowa Horse Council and her many individual contacts around the state to obtain support and cooperation for the new volunteer organization. Both the Shimek Area Forester and the Southeast Area Parks Supervisor worked with FOS to meet the goals of improving the trails and facilities for equestrians and to protect the resources of Shimek Forest. Volunteers dedicate about 1,000 hours each year to support Shimek Forest. This organization has been a valuable support for addressing the serious challenges of maintaining safe trails for equestrian families to enjoy a healthy outdoor activity free of charge and to develop an appreciation for the beauty and value of Shimek Forest in those that ride, hunt, hike, fish or drive through this lovely forest. Ann Bennett served as President from 2011 through 2017 and is still a member of the Board. Advocacy for the protection and care of the forest is an ongoing challenge to develop among the public a mindset of the need to protect, not “use” this beautiful resource—this is a struggle she, FOS volunteers, and the DNR staff continue to address today.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lots of work done on hot July day.

FOS Volunteers and the DNR crew met on July 11th at 8:00 AM at the Lick Creek Upper Campground for a morning of working on the trails and in the campgrounds.
Here Forester John Byrd is shown making work assignments for the day.

 Despite the hot, humid conditions, lots of work was completed.  Several downed trees were removed from the trails by DNR crew members Ben Hassman, Eric Martin and Heath Fraise and Volunteers Bob Bender and Neal Hartman, some that were quite difficult for riders to get around.   Briars and poison ivy were cut back by hand loppers along one narrow trail.   In this photo, Eric is shown with the Gator used to transport one of the chainsaw crews out to the downed trees.

Before heading off to work, the paperwork must be done and Susan and Ross discuss their activities for the morning.  Both are summer DNR staff .  They keep the campground working well, mowed and  assist campers and riders on the weekend with registration and any questions they may have.  Susan assisted Ann and Bonnie with can collection this morning. Kayla helped Bob Achenbach and John Byrd with trimming on the trails.  Meanwhile, John Bennett and Ross O'Day cleaned out the firepits.

The Paint Iowa Beautiful grant crew included Jo Watson, Nancy Grams, Marsha Achenbach, Lora Conrad, and for a short while  Bob Achenbach and  John Byrd.  Tables and restroom facilities at White Oak Campground were tackled with Vogel paint.  Here Marsha and Nancy begin the work on one of the restroom facilities--Marsha is scraping loose paint and Nancy has begun to repaint.   Much paint was peeling off as can be seen.
A couple of hours later------

And when the work was done---the reward---Skillbilly BBQ provided by Mary and Shawn Skillman with slaw and watermelon brought by Ann Bennett and desserts provided by Bonnie and Lora.  And water, water and more water then tea. 
And then Forester John Byrd gave an update to the team on the plans for the new Wet Weather Trail segment to replace the dangerous ride along side Highway 2. He has it planned and almost all the necessary permissions, but trees can not be cut until after October 1.
Re-pack, re-load, clean up after lunch, then--
The End!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

FOS Workday Planned for July 11, 2018


July 11th, 2018  WORK DAY –


Come join other friends of Shimek at 8am at the Lick Creek Upper Campground on Wednesday, July 11th at the Day Parking Area.  Ann Bennett is the Work Day Coordinator.  Forester John Byrd  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 Upper Campground at noon for a great lunch courtesy of Shawn and Mary Skillman with some help from Ann Bennett and Bonnie Moothart.  Shawn has quite a reputation for excellent grilled ribs --so come work for the morning and enjoy the reward!   Everyone working will report back to Ann and Forester Byrd on the progress they made and Forester Byrd will update all of us on what is happening at Shimek now and plans for this fall.   Remember—no previous volunteer experience necessary.

Please RSVP to FOS by email   so we know what you are bringing for tools and equipment (if any), what job you might do, and to have a headcount for the meal.     If pouring rain (Oh we have had little chance of that of late--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 include both campground and trail work. Campground work includes clean up of fire pits, campsites and stalls, can and bottle sorting, and  painting at the White Oak Campground.  Trail work needed that can be done using your ATV, on foot or on horseback includes cutting off and removing downed trees, 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 loaner vests available to identify all of us as volunteers.

Volunteers shown here at the May Friends of Shimek Workday

Reminder --bring your Iowa recyclable cans and bottles from home with you for the FOS fundraiser.

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.   Most work is expected to be finished by noon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Friends of Shimek Receives "Paint Iowa Beautiful" Award

Diamond Vogel Paints and Keep Iowa Beautiful recently announced that 
Friends of Shimek State Forest was awarded 9 gallons of paint for painting picnic tables and other campground structures, including the toilet buildings. These wooden facilities need painting about every two years to increase their life span and improve their appearance. There are four campgrounds at Shimek, all with wooden picnic tables with metal frames, small wooden toilet buildings, and posts for signage and other purposes. The paint was obtained through the Diamond Vogel Paint Store in Burlington, IA which is managed by Nick Wittenmyer.

 Friends of Shimek Board Member Neal Hartman (left) is pictured with Nick Wittenmyer receiving the 9 gallons of paint which was special mixed in the DNR standard green and brown colors. Ringo Covert, Friends of Shimek Board President said: “ The Friends of Shimek extend our appreciation to Diamond Vogel for this help in our on-going efforts to support DNR in maintaining the campgrounds.”

Friends of Shimek volunteers met for their first Group Work Day of 2018 in late May at the Lick Creek Lower Campground. The volunteers are shown above as they prepare to begin the painting project as well as clearing downed trees off trails, sorting cans and bottles and other campground maintenance.


The first step in the project was painting the two wooden toilet facilities at the Bitternut Lake campground. The paint was peeling badly and no longer protected the wood from the elements as shown in the photo above.  

Here Volunteers and Friends of Shimek Board Members Marsha Achenbach and Jo Watson are shown just after completing the repainting of those two facilities, which are looking much better.

Painting of the metal legs on picnic tables to prolong their life is next on the Friends of Shimek “Paint Iowa Beautiful” project. With 9 gallons of paint, there will be a lot of "Painting Shimek Beautiful" yet to come.  Volunteers to help paint will be needed at the next FOS Group Work Day on July 11th!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Horses and Water Hydrants must be kept far apart!

Keep Horses FAR away from Campground Water Hydrants!

 For the second time, riders have allowed a horse to get near a Shimek campground water hydrant and then hang its halter or bridle on it--frightening the horse and bending the water pipe. This time, it caused the pipe in the lower campground to leak, not just bend.
 Here is the work that caused!! Hours of digging, changing the pipe, and refilling, topping with gravel and smoothing for the Shimek DNR crew! Time they could have worked on the trails or forest duties.


 If this kind of damage happens on a hot weekend, there might be no water for anyone at either campground!

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.