Yesterday, I mentioned the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States and how it could affect a good portion of the rails-to-trails movement, especially out West.
The obvious question, then, is how does that affect the trail near you?
According to a post by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, “Existing rail-trails or trail projects ARE NOT affected by this decision if ANY of the following conditions are met:
- The rail corridor is ‘railbanked.’
- The rail corridor was originally acquired by the railroad by a federally granted right-of-way (FGROW) through federal lands before 1875.
- The railroad originally acquired the corridor from a private land owner.
- The trail manager owns the land adjacent to the rail corridor.
- The trail manager owns full title (fee simple) to the corridor.
- The railroad corridor falls within the original 13 colonies.”
You’ll want to read the entire article, here.
I was interested in three multipurpose paths: the Katy Trail that spans the state of Missouri; the Rock Island Trail that runs from northern Peoria to Wyoming, Illinois; and the Peoria Park District Rock Island Greenway, which, when complete, will link the older Rock Island Trail through Peoria to the Bob Michel Bridge, the gateway to East Peoria and Morton for people on foot and bicycles.
I contacted Trail Development and TrailLink Coordinator Eli Griffen of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy about the status of these trails. Here’s the reply I received.
“The bulk of the Katy Trail was railbanked in 1987, with additional portions railbanked more recently. Full title for the Rock Island Trail was acquired by Peoria’s Forest Park Foundation in 1965 and later transferred to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
“Because the Supreme Court ruling neither affects railbanked trails nor trails where the trail manager has acquired full title, both of these popular trails are protected from this ruling.”
As far as the Greenway is concerned, Eli said, “I am not too familiar with the details of the project, but I don’t think the status is any different. It appears that the City of Peoria acquired full title to the corridor in 1984.”
So far, so good, at least if your purview is limited to central Illinois. To check the status of your local rail to trail, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy suggests contacting the manager of the trail or emailing the Conservancy itself at firstname.lastname@example.org.