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April 2, 2001

Governor Ryan Announces Land Acquisition For Proposed Sangamon Valley Bike Trail

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the acquisition of 38 miles of railroad right-of-way in central Illinois for development of the proposed Sangamon Valley Trail bicycle path.

The $1.1 million acquisition of nearly 600 acres is being funded through the Open Land Trust, Governor Ryan's four-year, $160 million initiative to acquire real property for conservation, natural resource protection and recreation purposes.

This acquisition sets in motion the planning of an outstanding recreational resource, allowing us to convert an abandoned rail corridor into what promises to be a popular trail and greenway, Ryan said. It will provide a new, safe transportation link while attracting bicycle riders, skaters, hikers and other visitors to communities all along the path.

The state is acquiring the abandoned rail line from the Union Pacific Railroad. The 100- to 200-foot wide corridor extends from near Athens in Menard County south to near Girard in Macoupin County, through or near communities including Cantrall, Springfield, Chatham, Auburn, Thayer and Virden. The acquisition includes an impressive 60-foot high, 900-foot long bridge crossing the Sangamon River northwest of Springfield, as well as scenic crossings over Spring and Lick creeks in the Springfield-Chatham area.

The Department of Natural Resources is acquiring the right-of-way and will work with local governmental sponsors to protect open space and develop a bicycle-hiking trail. The city of Springfield and the Springfield Park District have expressed interest in participating in the trail development project.

Including the acquisition announced today, the Governor's Open Land Trust program has acquired 12,125 acres of open space throughout the state - 9,860 acres preserved by the state and another 2,265 acres preserved by local governments through the Open Land Trust grant program. The program has helped preserve a variety of habitat types throughout Illinois, including critical buffer to Wolf Road Prairie in suburban Westchester, grassland habitat in Iroquois County, recreational ground in Brown County and the phased acquisition of the Arch property in Perry County which will become the largest state park in Illinois. Additional acquisitions through the grant program are expected to be announced later this spring.

"From high quality prairies to grasslands to trails and other recreational lands, the Open Land Trust Program is helping to preserve open space for future generations," the Governor said. "The program is accomplishing its goal to preserve our heritage and protect Illinois' natural treasures."


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