Missouri legislature taking up bills to create Rock Island Trail Endowment Fund & accept trail donation (Capitol Day April 23rd!) | News Tribune

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The Missouri Legislature is moving forward on an endowment fund for the proposed Rock Island Trail.

The 144-mile rail corridor is being donated to Missouri Department of Natural Resources by Ameren. If accepted, the Rock Island Trail would require management from Missouri State Parks.

On Monday, Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, introduced SB473 to the Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources committee. Bernskoetter represents District 6, which includes Cole, Moniteau, Miller, Morgan, Osage and Gasconade counties.

The bill states grants, gifts, donations, or bequest of moneys, funds, real or personal property, or other assets for the trail would be deposited with the state treasurer, who would be responsible for all money in the fund.

An identical bill in the House, HB 1044, was introduced by Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, in March. The Conservation and Natural Resources committee reported a 9-0 vote in favor of the fund March 28.

Wood previously told the News Tribune the fund is needed.

"If we're going to keep the funding for the trail separate — we want to make sure the funding for roads and bridges comes ahead of funding for the trail," Wood said. . . .

An additional eight testimonies were heard including Jefferson City Ward 2 Councilman Rick Mihalevich and Brent Hugh, Missouri Foundation for Bicycling and Walking executive director.

"There aren't many 144-mile stretches of trails that can be developed anywhere in the world — certainly not in (this) country," Hugh said. "It's certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think the number one reason to support this bill that creates this fund is (because) this fund is going to allow the opportunity for us to leverage any state dollars that go into this bill."

MoBikeFed comment: The bills proposing the Rock Island State Park Endowment Fund have been proposed by Senator Mike Bernskoetter and Representative David Wood.

Both of them represent large areas of the proposed 144-mile Rock Island Trail State Park.

Both House and Senate versions of the bills have been heard in committee now, and both have passed out of committee by unanimous votes.

Representatives of the Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc, the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, and several other supporting organizations testified at the hearings in favor of the bills.

Now it is a race against the calendar to see if the bill can be passed in he remaining few weeks of the legislative session.

These Rock Island Trail bills will be our major issue at our annual Bicycle and Pedestrian Day at the Capitol April 23rd.

Please consider joining us in Jefferson City April 23rd to let our elected leaders know how much citizen support is out there for the Rock Island Trail!


More about the Rock Island Trail and MoRIT, the citizen-led organization working to preserve and develop the trail: