Well, another year has passed and 2017 is upon us.  I am at a loss as to what to write about this month. But I will talk about the many “thank you’s” we have received from the public.

People have stopped myself and other Forest Service employees to tell us how much they appreciate the work we are doing in the management of their national forest. They have told us they like the fact that they can come to the forest to camp, hunt, hike and ride their bikes, ATVs and horses on the many trails in the forest.

Our neighbors tell us they like how we are keeping the fuel-loading down so if there is a wildfire near their home, it is easier to stop the fire and defend their home from the fire.

For some reason this year people are aware that having public lands available to them is one of the blessings of our nation. I am at a loss as to why people are expressing this to us this year over past years.

But over the past few years we have added 15 miles of ATV/UTV trails, acquired several acres of wetlands to protect wetland habitats, brought in the Aarons to manage Loggers Lake as a concession, worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to manage invasive weeds like Milfoil in Loggers Lake, and prosecuted several individuals who were stilling timber from the public’s National Forest.

We have just learned that the lifetime senior passes which gives you a discount to many of the national parks and forest campsites, are going from $10 to $80. Yearly passes will now cost $20. So for us seniors we may want to get our lifetime passes before the price goes up.

Get out and enjoy your national forest!

By Thomas Haines

(Thomas Haines is district ranger for the Mark Twain National Forest, Salem Ranger District. He can be reached at 573-729-6656 or tehaines@fs.fed.us.)