Union County Hunters Angry Over Land Block

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By Evie Allen
By Jared Roberts

JONESBORO -- Some Union County hunters say the quickest route to their favorite spot in the Shawnee National Forest is now blocked by no trespassing signs.

The state put those signs up about a year ago and the hunters have been fighting them ever since.

75-year-old James Brown has been hunting at the Shawnee National Forest since he was a teenager.

"I killed my first deer in there, back in the 60s," says Brown.

The Alto Pass resident says he's taken the same route to get there for just as long. He likes to cross a pathway by Clear Creek Levee Road in Jonesboro. But for the past year, signs have closed off the area.

"Prior to that, it was good to know you could come down here and cross the creek and hunt the Shawnee National Forest," adds Brown.

The problem is that the property borders the Shawnee, and belongs to the Union County State Fish & Wildlife Area. 

"In order to access the federal property from here, one would have to cross a portion of the refuge (no firearms) and portage Clear Creek," IDNR spokesman Chris Young said in a statement.  

Hunter Kenny Pend now has to travel two miles to get to the area where he hunts.

"I don't think I could drag a deer for two miles to get it out," explains Pend. "You could put a boat in the creek, pull it to the edge of the creek and bring it across that way."

Both Brown and Pend say they contacted IDNR officials about the signs and were given several explanations, one being a problem with littering.

"They can still litter, so you can begin to see what's taking place," says Brown. "The signs are down there in a little strip for a mile long." 

Officials say there have been dumping issues and instances of people cutting trees across Clear Creek to cross onto the federal property.

Brown and Pend have sent out petitions to get the area back open. They say they  plan to keep speaking out until they see a change.

"It should be accessible to everybody, and you can enter the Shawnee National Forest from here. It's an easy and convenient access," believes Brown.

Brown says state officials told him they would consider a narrow easement in that area, but he'd like to see things back the way they were. The men say they've also asked state representatives for help.

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