Rock River Trail Initiative: An update for January 2012: Recreational synergies along the Rock River Trail

By Greg Farnham
RRTI Coordinator

Two of the important events for the trail initiative during January included a presentation to the Illinois Greenways and Trails Council in Springfield, Ill., and a public information meeting at Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island, Ill.

Trail Founder Frank Schier and I traveled to Springfield for a meeting Jan. 18 at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) headquarters. Similar in structure to the Wisconsin trails council, the Illinois Greenways and Trails Council comprises representatives of different trail interests (bicycling, hiking, snowmobiling, equestrian, water, etc.), senior staff of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources greenways and trails section, and members of IDOT.

We presented the general concept of the trail initiative with emphasis on the proposed Rock River Water Trail and the Scenic and Historic Rock River Route. A number of questions were asked of us, and we believe the trail initiative was well received by the council. We appreciated the guidance and support of Dick Westfall and Amy Madigan of Illinois DNR.

We then traveled to Rock Island, Ill., for a public information meeting organized by Sally Heffernan of the City of Rock Island and Kathy Wine of River Action. The meeting was held in the beautiful Watch Tower Lodge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s on a cliff overlooking the Rock River. The site is a 208-acre tract bordering the Rock River, with impressive natural features, and is most closely identified with the Sauk nation and its leader, Black Hawk.

The meeting saw a good turnout of representatives of local government and civic organizations, Illinois state rep. Patrick Verschoore and interested folks from the Quad Cities area.

There are exciting recreation trail synergies among the Rock River, its big brother the Mississippi River and the Hennepin Canal, all of which meet at Rock Island. We met wonderful folks who have offered to assist in developing contacts with local communities in Rock Island County, including Marilyn Andress of the Rock Island Soil & Water Conservation District (who has helped us with our 10,000 trees and other local contacts), Dean Mathias of Milan, Sara Ford of Port Byron, Chris Ontiveros of Moline and Ryan Hammerlinck of Coal Valley. We were also impressed by the enthusiasm and capabilities of Kathy Wine and the River Action folks and look forward to working with them.

Trail initiative council member, Carles Brown of Geneseo, Ill., has been instrumental in developing support among county and municipal governments of Henry County. We are pleased to have Carles on the council and acknowledge his important efforts. We are also excited by the volunteer offerings of Greg Ford and his family, and of Rock River historian John Vize.

Debbie Thompson, trail initiative council member from Lee County, and Dave Druen, trail initiative council member and coordinator from Whiteside County, continued their work to complete the support documents from their respective counties, cities, park districts and riverfront organizations.

We also want to recognize the assistance of Lohny Frederick, chair of the Town of Lebanon, and Steve Panozzo, chairman of the Town of Ashippun, both in Dodge County, Wis., in developing the remaining section of the proposed Rock River Route through the county. Bob Pavlik, chairman of the Town of Beloit, Rock County, Wis., helped guide town support for including both of the lovely river parks in the town, Preservation Park and Armstrong Eddy Park, in the Rock River Water Trail plan.

Work is continuing on development of plans and maps for the Rock River Water Trail and the Scenic and Historic Rock River Route.

We appreciate your interest and support. Please e-mail or telephone if you have questions, comments or recommendations.


Greg Farnham, coordinator, Juneau, Wis., (920) and Frank Schier, founder and coordinator, Rockford, Ill., (815) 964-9767