MyWebTimes reports that the IDNR reopened the 5 mile section of the I&M Canal Trail between Ottawa and Utica yesterday while the courts figure out whether to let Buffalo Range Shooting Park open for the season.
Currently the courts have issued an injunction temporarily preventing the range from opening, and the IDNR has used the opportunity to invite trail users back.
Of course, the shooting range was closed all winter, and so was the trail.
IDNR director Marc Miller says that the trail could close again if safety concerns arise. That hardly restores the trail’s allure as a corridor for tourism—how do you plan a visit on a trail that can close with the first phone call reporting “I think I heard a gun shot?”
We’re glad the IDNR has opened the gates, but we’ll be following the court case. The IDNR has shown that it holds the prerogative to keep the trail open, not the courts or the Attorney General (which we thought might have been the case).
On behalf of trail users and all the I&M Canal communities, we hope they can find their way to a permanent restoration of the I&M Canal Trail before summer.
Nice piece in the State Journal-Register this morning about efforts in Springfield and Maucopin and Menard Counties to extend and connect to the Sangamon Valley Trail. The right-of-way is there for a 37-mile, paved path…if, says the paper, local trail advocates can find the money.
But what stuck with me in this story is the waste inherent in disconnected trails—disconnected from other trails, from our businesses, from where we live. Over a beer last night with new trail friend Jerry H., Jerry told me how disorienting it is when a trail ends at a street. Even if signs clearly suggest an on-street route for you, you just look harder to see where the trail continues.
Where trails end, trail users turn around. And they take their commerce, health benefits, and sustainable lifestyle with them. Trails need to connect for the Triple Bottom Line to flow. Our state needs some flow—heck, we need a flood.
I’m (Steve) going out to Ottawa today with Diane Banta from National Park Service to look at a big disconnect—the I&M trail closure by the Buffalo Range gun club. The club’s been closed all winter—and so has the trail. We’re going out to get some pics and do a walkabout. Spring has sprung, and it’s time to spring loose the trail.
Will post pics when we get back today. Have a great weekend out on a trail!