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Shimek State Forest




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General Information

Description - Shimek State Forest is comprised of the following units.

Farmington 2,207 acres

Lick Creek 2,866 acres

Donnellson 1,330 acres

Croton 1,827 acres

Keosauqua 918 acres

Total 9,148 acres

The Farmington Unit contains Bitternut Lake campground with 8 sites and a boat ramp. The Farmington Unit also has Black Oak Lake with a handicapped accessible picnic area, fishing dock, parking area and restrooms. There is walk-in fishing access at White Oak Lake, also on the Farmington Unit. The unit has 18.9 miles of hiking trails.

The Donnellson Unit contains the White Oak campground with 11 sites. A boat ramp and a walk-in campsite is located at Shagbark Lake. The Donnellson Unit has a nature trail, 2 picnic areas and 6.2 miles of hiking trails.

The 4 lakes in the Farmington and Donnellson Units are stocked with bass, channel catfish and panfish.

The Lick Creek Unit contains two equestrian campgrounds, one with 11 sites and the other with 24 sites. There are 25 miles of equestrian trails on the Lick Creek Unit.

History

The forest's original and most important function is to serve as an example of forest management for Iowa's citizens. It was a base of operations for the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.). Demonstration plantings of hardwoods and conifers were completed. Over the years, plantations have continued to be established. Since 1972, commercial sales of sawtimber and other products have been made. Ongoing cultural practices improve the forest for production of forest products, wildlife habitat, erosion control and watershed protection. People from a wide area use the forest as a place to hunt, fish, camp, picnic, study nature and enjoy the out-of-doors.

Origin of Forest Names

The forest is named for the late Dr. Bohumil Shimek, an Iowa naturalist, University of Iowa professor and one of Iowa's early conservationists.

During the 1930s, Shimek convinced the state to acquire forest land in Lee and Van Buren Counties along with abandoned farms which were depleted from over a century of farming. These acquisitions were at first referred to as the Lee and Van Buren State Forest.

The name was changed sometime during the 1940s to the Farmington State Forest.

In 1950, Iowa honored the then late Dr. Shimek by naming the largest contiguous stand of state owned forest cover in Iowa, Shimek State Forest.

Three of the forest units are named for the towns of Donnellson, Farmington and Keosauqua.

The Croton Unit, named for the small community of Croton, is comprised of three detached parcels acquired in 1964 from the U.S. Forest Service. Croton is the site of the northern most battle of the Civil War.

The Lick Creek Unit was named for the small stream that flows through it.

Attractions - Recreational opportunities abound on the forest. Camping fees are $9.00 per night during the summer and $6.00 per night the rest of the year. An additional $3.00 per night is charged for equestrian campgrounds. See maps for campground and trail locations.

The Farmington Unit contains Bitternut Lake campground with 8 sites and a boat ramp. The Farmington Unit also has Black Oak Lake with a handicapped accessible picnic area, fishing dock, parking area and restrooms. There is walk-in fishing access at White Oak Lake, also on the Farmington Unit. The unit has 18.9 miles of hiking trails.

The Donnellson Unit contains the White Oak campground with 11 sites. A boat ramp and a walk-in campsite is located at Shagbark Lake. The Donnellson Unit has a nature trail, 2 picnic areas and 6.2 miles of hiking trails.

The 4 lakes in the Farmington and Donnellson Units are stocked with bass, channel catfish and panfish.

The Lick Creek Unit contains two equestrian campgrounds, one with 11 sites and the other with 24 sites. There are 25 miles of equestrian trails on the Lick Creek Unit.

Flora

The predominant plant communities on the forest are oak-hickory and bottomland hardwood timber types and their variations and transition zones. The oak-hickory type occupies the drier sites including ridge tops and sides. On poor sites, those with low fertility or that are dry, the species composition is generally black oak, bur oak, shingle oak and hickory. On better upland sites, white oak, red oak and hickory are more common.

The bottomland timber type is found on fertile soils in the bottomlands. This type contains many species including red and white elm, cottonwood, hackberry, green ash, silver maple and black walnut.

There are several areas where native prairie plants can be found including big and little bluestem, switchgrass, Indian grass, prairie cordgrass and various prairie forbs such as purple coneflower, round-headed bush clover, and lead plant.

About 1,000 acres have been planted to conifers. These plantations include a wide variety of pines, spruce and larch. Plantations of hardwood species include tulip poplar, swamp white oak, walnut, and black locust.

Fauna

The forest is the home of the white tailed deer, which is abundant on the area and the largest of the fauna. Other animals include fox and gray squirrels, raccoon, cottontail rabbits, woodchuck, muskrat, skunk, red and gray fox, coyote, beaver, opossum and many smaller animals.

Nonpoisonous snakes are common and the two poisonous species, the rattlesnake and copperhead are known to exist on the east side of the Des Moines River between Farmington and Bonaparte. Rattlesnakes have been found on the northern part of the Farminton Unit.

There is a variety of birds native to the woodland and its borders. Numerous species of songbirds utilize the extremely varied habitat. Game birds include some pheasant, numerous quail and wild turkey. The woodcock is a seasonal visitor to the area and some species of migrating waterfowl make occasional use of ponds and lakes on the area.

Eleven wild turkeys (three toms and eight hens) that had been trapped in Missouri were released in the Lick Creek Unit in the fall of 1965. One hundred and forty birds were sighted during an aerial survey in 1971 indicating the introduction had been a success. During the winter of 1971-72 a trapping program was begun and turkeys captured were used to restock new areas. The trapping and restocking program continues.

Equestrian facilities include hitching rails, pit toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, gravel parking pads, a water hydrant and shade for horses. There are stalls for overnight stabling. A day-use area, next to the upper equestrian campground, is provided for those not camping.

The Keosauqua Unit has 7.7 miles of hiking trails.

The entire forest is open to hunting (except camping areas), and hiking.

Administration

Shimek State Forest is administered by the Bureau of Forestry. An area forester is responsible for administration and management of the area.

Management

Shimek State Forest is managed in accordance with the IDNR Forest Ecosystem Management Guide for several benefits including production of wood products, wildlife, quality water, recreation, and protection of plant and animal communities. Forested land is divided into areas that will be regenerated using even-aged silvicultural systems, areas that will be regenerated using all-aged silvicultural systems and areas that will receive limited management. Unique area, such as prairies, are also maintained.

Rules

1. Be careful with fire. Do not leave a fire unattended. Fires are permitted only where fire rings are provided. Only dead and downed wood may be collected for firewood.

2. Motor vehicle operation only on public roads. ATVs are not permitted anywhere in the forests, trails, or roads. Snowmobiles are allowed only on designated routes. Confine vehicles to the main roads. Drive carefully.

3. Horse riding is allowed only on designated trails, roads, and campgrounds. Mountain bikes are allowed on designated horse trails

4. There are no designated swimming locations.

5. Camping is allowed only in designated areas.

Climate -

Weather has an affect on the activities that can take place on the forest. There are many days throughout the year when it is impractical to work out-of-doors. On other days, weather conditions may affect soil conditions so that planned work must be delayed.

The climate is characterized by wide variations and rapid changes in temperature. There is scant winter precipitation and normally ample rainfall during the growing season.

The normal annual average temperature is 51.3 degrees F.

The normal summer average temperature is 74.3 degrees F.

The normal winter average temperature is 26.6 degrees F.

A few days of 100 degree weather in summer and about ten days of subzero weather in the winter mark the extremes. The highest temperature ever recorded in Lee County was 113 degrees and the coldest was minus 27 degrees. January is normally the coldest month and July the warmest month with an average of temperature of 77.9 degrees. The average length of the frost free season is 187 days. The average date of the last killing frosts in the spring is April 15th and the average date of the first killing frost in the fall is October 19th. Precipitation is abundant, normally 32 to 36 inches per year, most of which falls during the growing season.

Winters are usually mild with infrequent heavy snows. Ice storms are common with one or two destructive storms each year. Snowfall averages 24.8 inches. March has the most wind and May and June are wettest. Thunderstorms are frequent in June and July with about one every third day.

Summers are hot and humid. Autumn is bright and usually the most pleasant season. September is wet as a rule with heavy morning dews, followed by drier, cooler and sunnier weather in October.

Prevailing winds are southerly for the six months of April through September, southwesterly during October and from the northwest during the winter months. The average wind velocity is 8.57 miles per hour throughout the year.

Location - Shimek State Forest is located in Lee and Van Buren Counties in southeast Iowa near the town of Farmington. The forest headquarters is located about 1 mile northeast of Farmington on county road J56.


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More Information

Contact Information:
Shimek State Forest, 33653 Route J56 , Farmington, Iowa, 52626, Phone: 319/878 3811.
, mark.tranmer@dnr.state.ia.us

Additional Information:
Iowa State Parks -
Southeast Iowa Travel Region -

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