Here are a few travel-related items that have crossed my desk recently:
New state park on the horizon
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced last week that a new state park will be donated by a landowner in Jefferson County. Don Robison intends to leave his estate, including 843 acres, to create a new state park southwest of Eureka.
The announcement explains:
The land is in the upper watershed of the LaBarque Creek, a high quality stream supporting 36 species of fish. Its location is key to LaBarque Creek Watershed Conservation Opportunity Area. The property features sandstone box canyons, cliffs, and glades, upland and bottomland forests and 328 recorded species of plants. Native shortleaf pine occurs in the area, and may represent the northernmost location of this species in Missouri.
New state historic site also on the horizon
Work is underway to develop a new state historic site in Southwest Missouri to commemorate the Battle of Island Mound, a Civil War skirmish notable as the first time that black soldiers were engaged in combat during the war.
The news release explains:
The first black men to wear federal uniforms were recruited in the summer of 1862 along the Missouri-Kansas border, and, within a month, seven companies of the First Kansas Colored Infantry were formed. This was a full two and half months before the Lincoln administration had authorized the enlistment of black fighting units.
During the fall of 1862, two battalions of the First Kansas Colored Infantry were sent into Bates County, which had become a haven for guerrillas and Confederate recruiters who were active along the Missouri-Kansas border. The soldiers operated out of a log home that had been commandeered from local Southern sympathizers. The soldiers called their home "Fort Africa." The skirmish or "Battle of Island Mound" occurred on October 29, 1862, when approximately 30 black troops were ambushed by some 130 rebel horsemen near a low hill known as Island Mound close to the Marias-des-Cygnes River.
Located southwest of Butler in Bates County, the historic site is scheduled to be opened in time for the Civil War sesquicentennial in 2011.
Shawnee National Forest scraps day-use fees
In June, I wrote about plans by the National Forest to start charging day-use fees at eight recreation areas in Southern Illinois. After strong opposition to the plan -- including a petition drive -- the forest service announced that they will no longer seek to impose the fees.
Blogger writes about popularity of the LaCroix Creek Trail
"Cape LaCroix Recreational Trail Rings Cash Registers" writes Ken Steinhoff, a blogger and bicycle enthusiast from Florida visiting family in Cape Girardeau.
He argues that the trail is Cape's most popular park, not just for local residents, but for visitors from out of town. While riding the trail, he met families from Farmington and Illinois who brought along their bikes to take advantage of the trail (and do some shopping, too).
Remember the comments in Speak Out about the proposed aquatics park? A common argument was, "Farmington has one, so why don't we?" Well, perhaps the folks in Farmington have a similar question: "Cape has a nice recreation trail, so why don't we?"