The Fairfield Loop Trail recently received an award at the Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference (MATAG). The bi-annual conference is sponsored by an affiliation of trails and greenways planners and promoters representing nine states in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Two awards were granted for each state, one for a person who has been influential in trail advocacy, and one for an exemplary trail. This year's Iowa state awards went to Chuck Offenburger, and the Fairfield Loop Trail. This award shows the Fairfield Loop Trail is not only an asset to the local community, and the state of Iowa, but is an asset to the entire Midwest.
The Fairfield Loop Trail project was first conceived in 1997 when the Jefferson County Conservation Board recognized the demand for trails in Fairfield was outpacing the supply. The Jefferson County Trails Council was formed shortly thereafter to "create an integrated trail system that will allow all citizens and visitors to enjoy the benefits of health, recreation, education, and safety."
Fourteen years later, the 15.9 mile Fairfield Loop Trail was completed. The completion of the project is an example of incredible community involvement, cooperation, and persistence. The project would not have been possible without the support of the City of Fairfield, Jefferson County, and the Iowa Department of Transportation. Pathfinders RC&D and French-Reneker-Associates, Inc. were critical partners for preparing grant applications and engineering planning and design services. In total, more than twenty local contractors and building related service providers assisted with the construction of the trail. In addition to local professionals, more than 120 volunteers provided numerous hours of volunteer labor for trail construction.
AMES, Iowa - Nov. 26, 2013 - One Iowa trails enthusiast and one Iowa trail were recently recognized at the 2013 Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference in Matteson, Ill. The Iowa Department of Transportation was a sponsor for the event.
This was the sixth MATAG regional conference hosted by Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The conference featured educational sessions and mobile workshops that brought together professionals and advocates from the region and nation. As part of the activities, each state was asked to submit an award nomination to recognize both a person and a project with significant impact on trails in its state. Iowa received awards for the following.
Offenburger is a member of the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT) Association Board and was instrumental in creating the association in 2006. The RRVT has become a popular destination trail in Iowa through his efforts and those of the association to organize festivals, plan rides, install signage and trail art, organize ambassador groups, and host economic summits. With the recent completion of the interior loop, the RRVT is now 89 miles in length and is the longest paved loop trail in the nation. Offenburger's enthusiasm, visionary leadership, and creative writing style on the trail's website (www.raccoonrivervalleytrail.org) have all contributed to the popularity of trail riding in Iowa and economic growth in the communities along the RRVT.
The recently completed 16-mile Fairfield Loop Trail was built one segment at a time to circle the city of Fairfield. In 2009, two major segments were completed, the Iowa DOT-South segment built by the Iowa DOT that parallels a new U.S. 34 bypass and the Bill Matkin Memorial Bridge that allows safe passage for trail users over busy Iowa 1. The Loop Trail begins and ends next to the historic Maasdam Barns, which was recently renovated to a popular museum and visitor center. With more than a decade of volunteerism, the Jefferson County Trails Council and many community volunteers made this trail vision a reality with a bold and ambitious plan for a small rural community.
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