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Program Overview 

Within IDNR, the Greenways & Trails Program promotes greenways, and both land and water trails and encourages information-sharing. In the past the program in conjunction with the Illinois Greenways & Trails Council co-sponsors conferences area and regional workshops as well as special events like the Mid America Trails & Greenways Conference.

The program has worked since 1995, through partnerships and the Grand Illinois Trail Executive Council to complete a 500-mile, loop trail known as the Grand Illinois Trail.The department has worked with other partnerships to develop and promote the Mississippi River Trail and the Route 66 Trail. The section also co-sponsors, with our partner the League of Illinois Bicyclists, the annual Grand Illinois Trail and Parks Ride (GITAP) which takes place in June featuring a varying route on the Grand Illinois Trail with overnights at some of Illinois' best state parks. The program fosters partnerships with other sections of DNR and agencies and organizations throughout the state that provide funding and technical assistance for projects associated with greenways and trails. The section also coordinates DNR participation in National Trails Day, an annual celebration of trails sponsored by the American Hiking Society.

The greenways and trails staff particpate in the updating of the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) which is available online for review. The SCORP is used as a guide  for the conservation and development of Illinois’ outdoor recreation resources. Providing parks and open space systems that are resource-compatible and serve the needs of all citizens is the ultimate goal. The 2009-2014 SCORP also presents policy direction for the Department’s local recreation grant programs. This SCORP document is formatted for viewing in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Printed copies may also be obtained. Contact: Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Planning, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702, phone 217/782-3715

Other activities coordinated by the section include site plans for DNR sites. The section works with an interdisciplinary team of DNR staff and often representatives of other agencies and organizations. Site plans typically include an assessment of the site’s resources; recommendations for the site’s classification and objectives; and a plan for the site’s resource management, recreation use and capital development. The section participates in the Department’s annual capital development budget preparation and planning Each year, in each of DNR’s five regions, the section works with other DNR staff to identify resource, recreation and facility needs and then the section prepares a written description (scope-of-work), along with maps and concept plan drawings, for capital projects to meet high priority needs. The section coordinates setting priorities for available capital funding. These regional priority lists are then combined, along with other DNR capital needs, into a statewide capital project priority list for consideration by the Office of Management & Budget and eventually, the General Assembly. When funding is appropriated and released for individual capital projects, the section prepares more detailed scopes-of-work for consulting engineers and architects, who prepare the actual capital project plan drawings and specifications. The section coordinates submitting capital projects for DNR’s Comprehensive Environmental Review Process, provides consultants with design guidelines and standards, and conducts other capital project planning as necessary. When consultants have prepared plan drawings and specifications, the section reviews the consultants’ work and provides comments. The section plans the development and rehabilitation of trails – hiking, equestrian and mountain biking – on DNR sites. The section typically prepares trail project design plans and plan drawings; coordinates submitting trail projects for DNR’s Comprehensive Environmental Review Process; and works with site staff and volunteers to construct and rehabilitate trails.

Email questions to dnr.greenway@illinois.gov.