On October 15, funding was released for a number of recreational trail development projects throughout the state of Illinois.
Included in the allocated funding was $200,000 for the Southern Illinois University Touch of Nature Center to begin construction on a 5-mile multi-use mountain bike trail.
State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) issued the following statement on the grant:
"This grant funding will allow the Touch of Nature Center to move forward on development of a multi-use mountain biking trail that will attract visitors and bring in revenue. Moving forward we will be able more fully utilize the undeveloped acreage owned by the SIU, creating yet another Southern Illinois travel and recreation destination that encourages tourism," said Fowler. "Bringing this bike trail to the area has been an ongoing project for the Nature Center for years, and it's exciting to see progress being made toward expanding what this facility offers to the public."
The Touch of Nature Center applied for the Recreational Trails Program grant in March of 2017. Funding will be used to hire a professional trail building team to construct a trail open for biking, hiking and running.
Future goals for the Center include expanding the trail, creating a 30 mile-long multi-use pathway open to the public.