SPRINGFIELD—Over 700 area Boy Scouts are spending the day taking part in the annual Lincoln Trail Hike, so named because hikers retrace the steps of a young Abraham Lincoln as he journeyed from New Salem to Springfield to borrow books. The Lincoln Trail Hike is part of the weekend activities of the 69th Annual Lincoln Pilgrimage, which is hosted by the Abraham Lincoln Council Boy Scouts of America. This is the 20th year the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has teamed with the Council for the event.
Hikers began their trek between 6:00 and 9:30 a.m. at the New Salem State Park and will finish their 20-mile hike at Stuart Park in Springfield. Scouts are able to walk the path Lincoln walked, along the scenic roadway through Sangamon and Menard Counties. All the while, hikers collect trash along the trail.
“Abraham Lincoln became our greatest president by doing what the Boy Scouts do every day—serving others,” said Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett. “By cleaning up this historic trail, these Scouts honor his legacy by doing what he did - clearing a path for others to follow. By protecting this environment, we can ensure future generations get to experience what President Lincoln experienced.”
Volunteers from the Illinois EPA, as well as the Lt. Governor’s Office and other state agencies, donate their time to staff the rest stations along the trail route, where drinking water, restrooms, trash collection bags, and other support are provided for the hikers. Upon completing the hike, Scouts will receive a “Lincoln Trail Hike & Clean Up” patch from the Agency in recognition of their efforts. A proclamation from Governor Pat Quinn was also presented to scout leaders proclaiming April 26 and 27 as Lincoln Pilgrimage Weekend.
“The volunteers and support from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency help make this hike safer and more meaningful for the Scouts,” said Pilgrimage Committee Chairman Dan Usherwood. “Scouting teaches our Scouts to be good stewards of our natural resources. The Illinois EPA’s participation emphasizes the importance of our environment and provides our hikers an opportunity to clean up a historic trail.”
Waste Management Inc., of Springfield, donates services each year by providing disposal for the trash that is collected. Proceeds from the recyclable items will be returned to the area Boy Scouts Council. American Radio Relay League amateur radio operators provide communications support for the day. Coca Cola will again be providing refreshments at station #3 in Salisbury, while the Illinois Air National Guard will again provide a tent at rest stop #3 in Salisbury. In addition the Illinois Army National Guard will provide first-aid medical support.