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Illinois charitable groups and charitable people are figuring out how to make impactful contributions to their communities’ Triple Bottom Line through trail development. We see Quincy Rotary Club & Friends of the Trails, Friends of the Cal-Sag TrailPush for the Path in Yorkville, and Effingham County’s TREC as models that will help Illinois communities hedge against a flawed state and federal approach to trail building.

How flawed? One current example: the Illinois Department of Transportation sent its award recommendations for the Illinois Transportation Enhancements Program—$50 million in federal money, with millions for trail projects!—to Governor Quinn in early October 2012 for approval to meet the agency’s own October awards announcement deadline.

That was three months ago. As costs go up, and towns and park districts remain in limbo about capital plans, as letting dates for construction slip…we’re still waiting.

We congratulate Quincy’s Rotary Club and Friends of the Trails on taking a local stake in the health and economic vitality of their community. 

If Bachta wants to enjoy a day at the park, whether it be for hiking, swimming or anything else, he’s got to load the kids into the car and drive there. It would be much easier if he could take his bicycle, he said.

David Bachta reviewing Winnebago County trail plansPlan would connect area bike paths,” Beloit Daily News 5/9/2012.

May your home be your trailhead, David!

Trails funding game could go extra innings, GITy Up!’s got get-up-&-go, PLUS…we’re making trails count! Read the latest Trail News here

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)Last Friday, still dripping from a wave of support from Illinois and the rest of America to preserve trail funding, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its draft transportation reauthorization bill that shrinks trails funding for the next two years by more than $80 million, from $1.15 billion to $833 million. And those funds are no longer set aside by mandate for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. They can be raided by the state for more roads.

This moment, right now, is why Trails for Illinois matters to your life, your community. Two reasons:

1. Less obligation for Illinois to spend federal funding on trails means more depends on relentless & statewide trails advocacy. If the Senate language survives markup—and our DC friends say it will, as Senators Boxer and Inhoefe have prevented amendments—it will set the tone for the transportation debate in the U.S. House. And if Illinois gets the flexibility to let itself off the hook from creating safe, convenient, and sustainable pathways for enjoyment and transportation, then our relationship building and advocacy in Springfield and in Illinois lawmakers’ home districts—already a critical and core activity—will directly impact whether dollars are spent on trails—or not.

2. Statewide trails advocacy is key to the federal transportation fight. Senator Boxer’s bill backtracks on promises she made to trail advocates this past summer, and it’s lowered our expectations for the Senate’s version of the transportation bill. But passage in the Senate remains, and the House gets a say; one of the things they’re saying is lawmakers want a 6-year transportation bill, not a 2-year as the Senate is likely to propose. There are a lot of wins left on the table for trails, and capturing them requires the diligence, connections and quick feet that only a statewide trails advocacy organization can provide.

We’ve been waiting for the larger battle for federal trails funding to begin, and, with Boxer’s stunning draft, suddenly find ourselves in it. While you consider your end-of-year giving, please consider that the fight for continued federal investment in trails for Illinois has suddenly begun. Trails for Illinois needs your year-end gift to fund the work ahead.

Please use our simple and safe donation page hosted by to pledge your support for Trails for Illinois. We’re working with our Washington, DC partners to craft a strategy in response to Boxer’s draft, and that will help shape our strategy here in Illinois. Within a week, we should have a plan of action for your involvement. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading! And remember to give!

Like Mickey told Rocky, keep your hands up, and keep your chin down: Kentucky senator Rand Paul says that funding safe and sustainable pathways for walking, running, cycling, and other non-motorized recreation and travel opportunities is causing our highway bridges to crumble and imperiling the lives of Americans.

It’s a Rand Paul rope-a-dope

Thank you to everyone who asked Senator Mark Kirk to defend trails for Illinois! Click the link above to read People for Bikes' summary of today. But wait—does this mean that tiny little us just maybe had an impact on national policy? Smells like an Illinois trails community is cooking!

Our first newsletter as Trails for Illinois—and thanks to Senator Coburn (R-OK) we can help you save federal trails funding!

But it’s not all urgent action to save millions of dollars for Illinois Trails—you can take our new supporters’ survey, read about the two guys helping us develop a renewed & refreshed statewide trails community, and…you can help launch it.

For a transitional newsletter, that’s a lot!