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July 11 to 17 is National Forests Week

Hoosier Natl Forest_Lk Celina.jpg
Paul Schuhmann
An early morning photo of Celina Lake at the Hoosier National Forest in Bedford. The National Forests Foundation is urging residents to explore the recreational resource which are National Forests.

There are U.S. National Forests totaling 193 million acres which are free to visit

This is the fourth annual National Forests Week which is designed to celebrate and raise awareness of U.S. National Forests.

This is a campaign of the National Forest Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports the National Forests.

They would love for you to visit a national forest — whether woods, waters or grasslands —and take a selfie or buy some commemorative swag from their website — but they would also like you to know how important these resources are especially in a time of drought or wildfires, which are an issue right now.

Foundation Director of Marketing Colleen Coleman said these awareness events can show the public what these national forests need.

“… To make sure that we are maintaining these pristine water resources is also incredibly important,” she said. “And, and the air we breathe, whether you're in an urban center that feels incredibly far away from one of our national forests, or if you live next door to one, we're impacted, all of us are impacted by the health and well being of these 193 million acres.”

Coleman says most Americans are about two hours from a national forest. Locally that includes Hoosier National Forest in Bedford and Shawnee National Forest in Herod, Illinois.

Indiana is also home to Midewin National Tallgrass prairie area closer to Chicago.

Coleman says that while gas is expensive, national forests are always free.

“If cost is a concern, that's one positive thing about the National Forest System,” she said. “ And if you absolutely can't get out and enjoy them this week, then simply just taking a moment to get outside and appreciate some open space or some green space, wherever you are, whether it's a park, or maybe all you can do is go for a walk around the block.”

Forest Week runs July 11 through 17. For more information go to nationalforests.org.