The 21st Show

Best Of: Film documents fight over Illinois forest

Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois

Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois US Forest Service

Editor's Note: This segment originally aired March 2022.

Shawnee National Forest, the only national forest in Illinois, consists of 260,000 acres of dense hardwood. It spans the width of the state from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River. It’s an ecological sanctuary and a source of natural resources. 

The Shawnee became a flashpoint in the early 1990s when the US Forest Service approved a Missouri company to clear-cut timber across more than 140 acres. Environmental activists organized, holding a 79-day blockade and protest in the summer of 1990. It sparked a forest defense movement that is the subject of a recent documentary film called “Shawnee Showdown: Keep the Forest Standing.”

Where to watch 

"Shawnee Showdown: Keep the Forest Standing" will screen April 1 at the Environmental Film Festival at Yale 

Register here to watch the film virtually 


Cade Bursell

Filmmaker | Professor, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Media Arts

John Wallace

Environmental Educator and Activist

Sam Stearns 

Environmental Educator and Activist



Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi.

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