Work continues at Sahara Woods State Recreation Area, says Fowler

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SOUTHERN ILLINOIS — After a flurry of calls to his office regarding the status of the promised construction of the Sahara Woods Fish and Wildlife Area off-road vehicle trail system, Sen. Dale Fowler (R -Harrisburg) says he has answers.

“I have been in constant contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources since this project was announced in 2017 under the Rauner administration,” Fowler said. “IDNR has assured me that this project is still moving forward, and although there has been some sort of delay with funding sources, I am looking forward to seeing construction moving forward.”

The 26-mile development will be the first state-owned off-road vehicle trail facility and serve as a unique addition to outdoor recreation in Southern Illinois. According to an IDNR spokesperson, the state agency is awaiting approximately $1.3 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration before the first phase of the project can be approved. tender.

Fowler said the first phase of the project includes amenities like a service building where the public can use the restrooms and the infrastructure to support that building.

“It’s multi-million dollar investments in this area that will continue to put southern Illinois on the map as a vacation destination and help our local communities thrive,” Fowler said.

According to IDNR, work already completed on the project includes:

• The clearing of 26 miles of trails for the project

• The installation of $100,000 in culverts along the trails

• Maintenance projects, including keeping trails clear of debris and preventing woody vegetation from re-growing

• Design work for two separate Phase 1 projects; ready to bid immediately once federal funds are in hand.

• Utilities are being developed with Carrier Mills and planning for power and fiber optics is underway

Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area is located west of Harrisburg on Illinois Route 13. The former mining property was donated by the Sahara Coal Company to the State of Illinois in 1999.

IDNR officials say they are cautiously optimistic that the OHV site will be ready for cyclists in the spring of 2023.

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