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Recreational Trails Program
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Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Highlight: Chautauqua Bottoms in Jackson, Illinois

Chautauqua Bottoms Nature Preserve created accessibility upgrades with RTP funds.

Nathan D. Speagle, President of Green Earth Inc, writes:

"In 2015, Green Earth was awarded funds by the Recreational Trails Program to improve the trails at our second largest property, the Chautauqua Bottoms Preserve. This project realized two major landmark accomplishments for our organization: Constructing an ADA-friendly multiple-use trail that mitigated the challenges of wet bottomland trails and erecting an 80-foot pedestrian bridge over Little Crab Orchard Creek that connects the western and eastern portions of the preserves and its three trail systems. These upgrades now provide year-round access to a greater portion of our community and have been very well received. The wide, hard-surfaced trails invite the mobility challenged, elderly, children, families, cyclists and dog-walkers to explore the wonder and beauty of Carbondale’s natural history.

The project was funded utilizing a $102,000 award from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Trails Program and $32,150 in match secured by Green Earth. GE solicited $11,650 from our supporters, and Carbondale Township awarded GE $25,500 towards the project. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation funded $5,000 of trailhead amenities upgrades that brought improvements to all three of the Chautauqua Bottoms trailheads. These amenities included stone benches, bike racks, trash and recycling receptacles, information kiosks and signage. Our volunteers also played a big part in making this long-standing pipe dream a reality. Southern Illinois University students, community members, professionals, and GE board members alike lent their time and talents in the planning, implementation and maintenance phases of this project. Joe Lenzini, Operations Manager for E.T. Simonds Construction Company, donated much of his services on the project, and E.T. Simonds Construction performed the project at cost, forgoing profit. Since this collaboration, E.T. Simonds has provided yard space for storage of trail maintenance materials at their Carbondale facility. The late fluvial geomorphologist Steve Gough provided services crucial to the difficult task of placing the 80-foot pedestrian bridge pro bono."

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