Following the recent retirement of two dedicated and hard-working Hoosier National Forest (NF) employees, mules Ruth and Jack, the Forest stock program was in need of new recruits. After a thorough search for the right candidate to join the mule team, Lollie (pictured below) was selected to carry on the Hoosier NF’s long tradition of stock support for wilderness and other trail work.
“Lollie was purchased from a local vendor and is showing excellent potential as an addition to the stock program,” according to the Hoosier NF’s Wilderness Ranger, Rod Fahl.
The Hoosier NF stock program is an integral part of the responsible management of the Charles C. Deam Wilderness in Monroe, Brown, Jackson and a small portion of Lawrence County. Designated as a wilderness in 1982, these 13,000 acres of Forest System lands are managed to preserve natural conditions and provide for solitude, which require special maintenance techniques. No motorized equipment or wheeled vehicles are permitted in designated wilderness areas. This creates unique challenges in maintaining trails in such areas; challenges a mule team are perfectly suited to handle. Mule teams are utilized to plow and grade trails, haul gravel and other materials to resurface trails, and move logs.
Lollie will join three other Hoosier NF mules to create a full four-mule team. Their services are not limited only to the wilderness, but can provide support for various Forest projects. The new mule team will continue services on the Hoosier NF, as well as occasional trips to support other Forest Service projects in the Midwest, such as the on the Shawnee NF in southern Illinois. The mule team is also frequently used for public outreach in the field and education about primitive tools, so keep a lookout for the Hoosier NF mule team and their newest member working the trails in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness or at events throughout southern Indiana.