The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could spell the end of the rails-to-trails program, not just here in Illinois but nationwide.
At the heart of the matter is this question: does the land under abandoned railroads belong to all the people or to the adjacent landowners? The program to convert abandoned railroads to public use trails depends upon the answer and there are a lot of conflicting laws and precedents.
Rails-to-Trails has been on this for years (duh) and has been successful thus far but this is important and it's time for cyclists to wade into the fight with a some time and some money.
Make a donation to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. They're the ones hiring the lawyers and this is an expensive fight, let's make sure we don't get beat because we couldn't hire the best lawyers.
Contact your Senators. Let them know you expect them to get behind the RtT program with legislation and dollars. Be polite and be concise but be insistent and persistent.
Contact your Congresscritter. Make sure they know that you like the rails-to-trails programs and expect them to help protect it in every way they can. Again, be nice but be determined.
Remember, you have the right to speak but it takes time and money to be heard. Please make sure you're part of the chorus.
Here is the SCOTUSblog coverage of this case: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/marvin-m-brandt-irrevoca...
How incredibly short-sighted if the SCOTUS rules in favor of the adjacent landowners.
It really doesn't apply to Illinois. Railroad were required actually purchase the land, so when they abandon it, it does not revert and must be sold and titled to the purchasing person.