SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today recognized Springfield-area Boy and Girl Scouts and employees from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency who have joined forces to cleanup litter along the historic Lincoln Trail, a 20-mile scenic roadway that traces the path Abraham Lincoln walked as a law student.
“I applaud these boys and girls and EPA employees for their commitment to making Illinois a better – and cleaner – place to live,” said Blagojevich, who proclaimed Saturday as ‘Lincoln Trail Hike Day in Illinois.’ “This annual event not only raises awareness about the early life of our nation’s greatest president, but it also promotes environmental consciousness among our future leaders.”
EPA has teamed with the Abraham Lincoln Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts Land of Lincoln Council the past several years to support litter collection along the roadway, which runs from New Salem in Menard County to Springfield in Sangamon County. EPA volunteers provide drinks, trash collection bags and other support at rest stations along the route.
About 1,300 scouts are expected to participate in what is known as the Annual Lincoln Pilgrimage. The hike began in 1926 when R. Allan Stephens, a former Springfield Boy Scout commissioner, originated the idea so scouts would acquire a greater appreciation of the obstacles Lincoln overcame in his rise to the presidency. The walk later evolved into a cleanup effort for the historical path.
In addition to the Saturday cleanup, the weekend pilgrimage includes a Sunday walk from Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery to the Old State Capitol.
Waste Management Inc. of Springfield donates its services, providing disposal for the
trash that is collected. EPA returns all the proceeds from the recyclable aluminum to the local Boy and Girl Scout councils.
“The event has been very popular with the scouts and is well-received by residents along the route who get their roadway cleaned, ” said Renee Cipriano, EPA director.
The hike begins at New Salem State Park at 6 a.m. Saturday and finishes at Stuart Park in Springfield between noon and 6 p.m. Participating scouts receive a “Helping to Keep It Clean” patch from EPA.