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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Closure order of SNF recreation areas in force, gate vandalized

  • The Shawnee National Forest designated recreation areas are closed and the locked gate at Garden of the Gods fell victim to an act of vandalism at some point Thursday or Friday.
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  • The Shawnee National Forest designated recreation areas are closed and the locked gate at Garden of the Gods fell victim to an act of vandalism at some point Thursday or Friday.
    Someone destroyed the gate and the Forest Service replaced it on Friday, according to Saline County Sheriff's Deputy Wes Bebout.
    Bebout was on the scene as the gate was reinstalled and a new sign telling of the closure order was posted. Forest Service law enforcement were removing the tourists who had driven into the park since the gate was broken, Bebout said.
    The sign indicates the closure order's purpose is "for the protection of property, public health, and safety."
    The signs warns violating the order is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations or by imprisonment for no more than six months, or both. The closure order is dated Oct. 3.
    This message was posted on the Shawnee National Forest Web site http://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee Friday:
    "Due to the lapse in agency funding, the sale of all types of permits (i.e., recreation, firewood, forest products, mineral materials for example) are suspended, recreation.gov reservations are suspended, and all federally owned recreation sites are closed. All offices are closed. These services will be available once funding is restored.
    "Law enforcement, fire suppression, and other essential services will continue without interruption.
    "This web site will remain available for public safety announcements and updates such as for wildfire, floods, and so forth. We will attempt to make timely updates about public health and safety on these web pages as appropriate. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.
    "For general information on Forest Service shutdown procedures, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans/."
    The closure is for designated recreation areas such as Garden of the Gods, Pounds Hollow, Rim Rock and Hunting Branch Picnic Area at Bell Smith Springs. Red Bud Campground and the campground at Lake Glendale are operated by a private concessionaire and remain open.

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