Coles, Douglas, Moultrie landowners along Prairie Wind Trail have until Dec. 31 to claim property back from state

Landowners who own property adjacent to the previously planned State of Illinois recreational initiative known as the Prairie Wind Trail in Coles, Douglas, and Moultrie counties have until the end of the year to submit a formal request to the state to have that land deeded back to them. 

State Sen. Chapin Rose has fought for years to put an end to this egregious waste of taxpayer money and return these parcels of ground to their rightful owners.  A new law (P.A. 100-0708) sponsored by Rose extends the deadline to Dec. 31, 2018, for landowners to make a request to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for a property transfer.  Many rightful owners were unaware of past attempts to return their property to them. The extension to claim property will be the last opportunity landowners have to claim their property before the state puts the remainder into its surplus property sale. 

“We are aware of approximately 35 parcels between Coles Douglas, and Moultrie counties that remain unclaimed.  Landowners must submit a request to the Department for a property transfer,” Rose said. “I have worked tirelessly on behalf of local landowners to return what is rightfully theirs; however, for whatever reason these few parcels remain unclaimed.  This will be an individual’s last chance to make a claim before the state does what it wanted to do in the first place, which is sell this ground at auction. 

“I would urge anyone who may live, or who had relatives who once lived, along the bike trail to immediately reach out to and get more information.  We have stopped the state from selling this behind the backs of the legitimate and lawful owners, but we need these few remaining folks to step forward and complete the paperwork to put this behind us once and for all,” Rose concluded. 

Interested landowners of adjacent property to the Prairie Wind Bike Trail must make a formal request for transfer to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Further information on the process is available by contacting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Realty and Environmental Planning (217-782-7940), the Moultrie County Farm Bureau (217-728-4214), Douglas County Farm Bureau (217-253-4442), or Sen. Rose’s Champaign District Office (217-607-1853). 

The proposed Prairie Wind Trail was an effort by the State of Illinois decades ago to boost tourism and quality of life in the region by creating a trail for recreational enthusiasts, runners, and bikers. It was planned to go from Oakland in Coles County, through Douglas County, and ending in Lovington in Moultrie County. 

The state purchased an old railroad right-of-way to acquire the property for construction; however, most of the ground along the way was not the railroad’s property to sell, leaving a cloud surrounding the titles for the legitimate property owners.  The state eventually walked away from the entire project after wasting countless taxpayer dollars defending the state’s claim against the lawful owners. As of today, the state has deeded back most portions to the appropriate landowners and only these few parcels remain unclaimed.  

The law expires on Jan. 1, 2019, and no further transfers will be made. Rose said this is absolutely the last opportunity to make a claim, and this notice is being sent to encourage individuals to do so now.

Chapin Rose

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