Supporters of the Urbana to Kickapoo State Park recreation trail say they're confident they can generate funds and support for the long-awaited project.
"We think the fundraising will be successful because people really want this. There are a number of people who have already expressed interest," said Tim Bartlett of the Champaign County Design & Conservation Foundation. "We want to move into the development phase of this and build as fast as we can because people want to ride (bicycles) there."
In fact, said Dan Olson, executive director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, the fundraising has already begun, with a $25,000 check Tuesday.
"That's just an incredible boost to us," said Olson.
He said the forest preserve district's development group, the Forest Preserve Friends Foundation, is accepting donations at http://www.ccfpd.org/foundation/.
"We're happy to have any amount donated to us because we can take that so far because of the grant matching and other matching," Olson said. "There will be some naming opportunities along the trail. We have plans for benches and items like that along the trail and opportunities to donate something like that."
George Bellovics, an official with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources who has been involved in several state rails-to-trails projects, said he's seen all kinds of grass-roots fundraising efforts.
"This is really the start of the next phase of bringing this project to fruition, and allowing any and all who want to participate to do so in various formats," he said. "With the Rockford trail system, part of their match came from bake sales. They raised $200,000 to help match for their Jefferson Street Bridge. And the garden club in Pecatonica put up match money for a Pecatonica Prairie Path. Advocate groups can be integral to projects like this being successful."