On Wednesday, May 8, the Dallas County Conservation Board will join organizations nationwide in celebrating its place along the Great American Rail-Trail — a nearly 4,000-mile multi-use trail that spans from Washington, D.C., to Washington state.
As the route for the newly launched Great American Rail-Trail is announced, efforts in central Iowa to connect the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT) and the High Trestle Trail (HTT) take on added importance.
Representing the Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Trails, Dallas County Conservation Board Director Mike Wallace and regional community leaders will join the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) in unveiling the preferred route for the Great American Rail-Trail as part of a series of cascading events that will roll out the trail’s cross-country routing.
The unveiling will take place trailside at the Perry Depot on the corner of First and Willis avenues at 10 a.m., with local officials recognizing the inclusion of the RRVT and HTT network in the Great American route.
The day will also honor a recent donation from the Bock Family Foundation and a Federal Recreation Trail Grant, which pushes the fundraising efforts of the Let’s Connect project to 65 percent of the $5 million goal.
The Let’s Connect project will extend the HTT to the RRVT, linking Woodward, Bouton and Perry, and will serve as part of the Great American route. The Great American launch is the perfect day to adjust the fundraising goal sign near the Big Bike in Perry.
Several other launch events are taking place May 8 along the Great American route. RTC will host an hour-long Facebook Live presentation to launch the Great American Rail-Trail nationally and will share Facebook Live check-ins from route reveal celebrations across the country throughout the day.
The RRVT is 89 miles of paved trail, passing through 14 communities and Dallas, Guthrie and Green counties in central Iowa. The HTT, including the iconic bridge, runs for 25 miles between Woodward and Ankeny.
The preferred route of the Great American, which is already more than 50 percent complete, is based on a thorough assessment and analysis using the RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of existing trails and in-depth collaboration with local trail partners and state agencies.
For more details about the Great American Rail-Trail, follow #GRTAmerican on social media and visit the Great American Trail website.
Ken Keffer is the outreach coordinator for the Dallas County Conservation Board.