HARRISBURG — Gum Ridge Pavilion, near Kinkaid Lake on the Shawnee National Forest, received needed improvements from volunteers with Jeep’n’Shawnee and U.S. Forest Service employees.
Over the course of several weekends this fall, volunteers put in more than 100 hours of work to improve the site.
“Another great project completed by our partner, Jeep’n’Shawnee, and another revitalized site on the forest for the community to get outside and enjoy their public lands,” said Dennis Wilson, Hidden Springs and Mississippi Bluffs district ranger. “This type of work would not have been possible without their coordination and donations.”
Tread Lightly, a non-profit organization that leads a national initiative to promote the responsible use of motorized vehicles when recreating outdoors, and a partner with Jeep’n’Shawnee, supplied a $3,000 grant for the project. The grant, which was donated to Tread Lightly by Yokohama Tires, covered many supply costs, including a large dumpster rental needed to haul off old material.
“It’s important to the group (Jeep’n’Shawnee) to help promote forest access, to maintain and keep areas open,” said Joe Santhoff, Jeep’n’Shawnee organizer,. “This is where we play, we have a lot of roads around here we help maintain and (we volunteer) to help open and maintain areas.”
Volunteers cleaned and mowed the area around the site, removed and replaced the entire roof of the pavilion, and replaced aged trim boards. The group plans to return in the coming weeks to paint or stain the pavilion as the final step.
“We love the Shawnee National Forest, this is our backyard, and we want to be able to enjoy this area,” Santhoff said.
Santhoff and his organization assisted with several additional volunteer projects earlier in the year, including area beautification to Teal Pond.
“The work volunteers do on the Shawnee National Forest is invaluable and these two groups are a perfect example of what is accomplished through our volunteers and partners,” said Chad Deaton, recreation program manager. “If it wasn’t for their hard work and dedication, we wouldn’t be able to make the improvements in many of the recreation sites and provide the recreation experience our visitors want.”
The forest is working now to provide areas for the public to enjoy during the eclipse in April 2024. Gum Ridge Pavilion is one of several planned areas that will be improved upon in anticipation of the influx of recreators brought on by the eclipse.