Dear Editor:

As a long time hiker, and cross country skier when opportunity knocks I am out on the local trails wherever I have lived.  I will continue to do that the rest of my life while physically able.  

Recently, after the snow event, I skied the Palisades Park trails and campground areas for two days and find the trail network at the north end of the park best for skiing.

However, this time the downed trees were plentiful which made it difficult to keep up any momentum and enjoy the ski better.   Earlier in the year, on many hikes in the south end I came across many downed trees on the trails that could be removed but haven't been verified from returning later in the year.

Considering many Savanna promoters are gloating on the publicity that declared Savanna as rating one of the best small towns for recreating in the country, and the Palisades State Park is one reason why that is so.   Knowing that good publicity can generate more tourists and tourist dollars, I would think that seeing the trail system better maintained at the Palisades Park would be encouraged.

Moreover, I noticed in my many hikes in the park in 2021, that more tourists were showing up and I asked a few folks on the trail how did they decided to come hike here.  One couple stated they came because of hearing about Savanna, after reading the Chicago Tribune.

Considering that the park has few personnel and few resources, can anyone come up with some suggestions how to get some funds to hire a temporary contractor to remove parts of the downed trees and branches to open up the trails, so one can hike or ski normally?  Would there be some grant money available from some source in the state tied to park trails?  Any suggestions from anyone who recreates in the park?

Obviously, any work done would have to be coordinated with the DNR office in Savanna, and maybe higher up.  I know that many state recreational institutions, and national parks and forests, utilize non profits like Americorp, or Youth Conservation Corps, or some other non-profit trail organizations. This requires funding and a contract proposal to be bid on if the work could not be done by local DNR people due to lack of funding or personnel.  In the big picture, it would be nice to see steady funding that would address trail maintenance during the busy season at minimum.

Getting more people outdoors whether it is cross country skiing or hiking is a benefit to all of us and it would be nice to see the Palisades State Park get caught up on trail maintenance and draw more people to enjoy the beauty of the park.

Grant Wiegert

Savanna