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Peoria Park District seeking grant to buy property, link trail sections

220929 Peoria Parks-Illinois River Bluff Trail.jpg
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The Illinois River Bluff Trail consists of a series of hiking paths from Detweiller Park to Camp Wokanda. Peoria Park District is applying for an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant to fund the purchase of a 40-acre property that would help fill a gap in the trail.

An ongoing effort to extend the Illinois River Bluff Trail is taking the next step, with the Peoria Park District seeking state funding to buy a piece of land that would help fill one of the gaps in the pathway.

The district’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a request to apply for an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant to acquire a 40-acre parcel near Detweiller Park.

“Certainly that Illinois River Bluff trail, from our perspective, is one of those local gems that people come here to hike,” said Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill, adding the long-term target is to connect the trail from Detweiller to Camp Wokanda on the north end.

“If we can make that a continuous path, that is something that will draw people to this region and that's really one of the things that we try to do.”

A continuous north-south route would enhance the trail’s status as a key element in the “outdoor adventure park” concept, with Robinson Park and Green Valley Camp linked between the endpoint sites.

“One of the really nice pieces about that parcel, too, is that it does have access directly from (Illinois) Route 29,” said Cahill. “So it could be a trail head if we need it to be as a middle point. There's lots of potential; it's a parcel we've been talking a long time about.”

Cahill said the district has been working on closing gaps in the trail for several years, contacting other local property owners along the route in an effort to get easements to “connect the dots.”

“If we can get this chunk, then we make great strides in that and I really do think then other people will come online with us for those easements so that we can get that trail connected,” she said. “So anytime we can access dollars outside of our internal resources to do some of those kinds of property acquisition and development projects, we definitely want to do that.”

The deadline for submitting the grant application to IDNR is Friday. Cahill said they hope to hear a decision early next year so they can complete the purchase by the spring.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.