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New Rules Protect Rock Shelter At Hemlock Cliffs

Last updated on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

(BEDFORD) - New regulations have been put in place to protect the large rock shelter at Hemlock Cliffs.

This special feature has long been a favorite destination for visitors to the Hoosier National Forest.

Climbing or rappelling in the area of the rock shelter was prohibited earlier and that continues. A new closure order prohibits fires and camping within the rock shelter.

Most visitors enjoy walking under the protective shelter of the cliff above, envisioning Native Americans, pioneers, or animals taking shelter in this area. This is still allowed and District Ranger Chris Zimmer encourages people to appreciate the beauty of this special area. "Hemlock Cliffs is one of my favorite places on the Forest; there really is something almost primeval about the place. You can picture what life may have been like 200 years ago, with the hemlock and the deep ravine."

For most visitors nothing has changed. "But for those who have camped or built fires in the rock shelter... those activities will no longer be allowed," said Zimmer. Smoke and the sanitation issues of camping pose additional concerns for the rock shelter and the biological communities that live there. Campsites in the shelter also restrict other visitors from exploring the area.

The ecology of the cliffs and the rock shelter are unusual and many of the plant species are not commonly found in other places. "The micro-climate created by the steep ravine and cliffs is conducive to certain life forms that we want to make sure are protected," explained Zimmer.

The closure order and a map are posted on the Hoosier National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/hoosier/. Any questions regarding the new closures should be directed to the Tell City Office of the Hoosier at (812) 547-7051 or to nmyers@fs.fed.us.

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