SPRINGFIELD—Over 1,000 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 70th Annual Lincoln Pilgrimage, which is hosted by the Abraham Lincoln Council Boy Scouts of America. This is the 21st year the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has partnered 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.
“As Illinois remembers President Lincoln and the 150th Anniversary of his death, Boy Scouts from around the state will exemplify the life of Abraham Lincoln by serving others,” said Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett. “By following in his footsteps and cleaning up this historic trail, these Scouts honor his legacy, setting an outstanding example for others. As we just celebrated Earth Day, actions of these scouts continue the message of protecting our environment every day.”
Volunteers from the Illinois EPA 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 Bruce Rauner was also presented to scout leaders proclaiming April 25 and 26 as Boy Scouts of America Lincoln Pilgrimage Weekend in Illinois.
“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. American Radio Relay League amateur radio operators provide communications support for the day. Coca-Cola, the Illinois Air National Guard, along with the Army and Air Force Springfield Recruiting Centers provide support at rest stops. In addition the Illinois Army National Guard will provide first-aid medical support.