THIS CLOSE...& grateful all the same

GRATEFUL – Thank you one and all for pushing our trail project in Palos to 2nd place in the American Hiking Society/Michelob Ultra Extra Mile contest, earning Trails for Illinois $24,600 for trail work in the Palos "triangle" in Spring 2017.

Voting closed November 26, leaving us just .6% in total votes behind the mighty Ozark Trail Association and its epic, bucket-list worthy Ozark Trail. The OTA is yet another organization of volunteer trail stewards that we, with Illinois Trail Corps, are trying to emulate to do the same things for Illinois that they do for Missouri: create amazing natural experiences, quality of life opportunities, and tourism development for the people who live and who visit here. Our hard hats off to OTA!

For winning 2nd place, American Hiking Society & Michelob ULTRA will donate $24,600 to Trails for Illinois for Palos trail work beginning Spring 2017. We'll spend it all on projects selected in partnership with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers, who almost single handedly are responsible for the world-class running, mountain biking, and hiking experience in the Palos "triangle." We want to meet two mutually reinforcing goals:

  • Grow the volunteer trail stewardship effort at Palos by training other user Palos groups, like the Flatlander Ultrarunners, in trail building and maintenance. As trail users, the Flatlanders are already taking some ownership of the Palos trail experience, organizing regular trash pickups throughout the year. We'll employ a "mullet" strategy: organized CAMBr/Flatlander trail stewardship training and work days, followed by trail fun and shenanigans—business in the front, party in the back. Bringing CAMBr and Flatlanders together on work (and play) days in the name of better Palos trails will create a powerful trail stewardship alliance that will benefit all Palos users, and the Palos landscape as well.
  • Knock out a butt-load of sorely needed trail maintenance and expansion. Expanding the system of well-designed, sustainably maintained trails in Palos is key to preserving Palos and meeting the wellness needs of the people who use it. An appreciation for nature developed through adventure and active enjoyment is the cornerstone of the American conservation movement; the current research-driven health trend towards physical activity in outdoor, natural environments is also a potential boon for protecting landscapes and ecosystems everywhere. We need people in the wilderness for conservation and for our own well-being. That means more trails (to diffuse trail user impact) that are well-designed and sustainably maintained to entice, to excite, to protect.

Thank you again for supporting this project. There is plenty of work in Palos in Spring 2017 for all of you who voted and shared; our training and work events will be open to all trail enthusiasts who are ready to give back to the trails that are giving all of us so much.

I hope you can celebrate our respectable runner-up finish by getting out there (when the trails are dry; CAMBr has excellent trail conditions info so you can avoid going out when it's mushy & damaging). It's beautiful, and thrilling, and where a part of us belongs.

May your home be your trailhead,

Steve B.