Ameren has initially agreed to transfer ownership of the Rock Island Railroad corridor to the state. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources must first fundraise $9.8 million for development, security and management costs for the 144-mile stretch from southern, central and eastern Missouri.

Supporters of the Rock Island Trail rally at the capitol steps – August 11, 2017

Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst tells Brownfield Ag News that many landowners have little to no input on how that land will be used, which raises concerns, including about biosecurity.

“Access to your farms, people driving by, riding their bikes, whatever. But, just coming through your farm and also just people have livestock facilities close to this line. Clearly we want to be conscience of the chance of disease being transmitted as people move along,” he says.

Hurst says the organization continues to fight against the use of state money to develop the corridor and says a legislative fix is being considered.

“I think that this one is one that will probably be fought out in the Legislature and in the budgeting process and we’ll continue to do what we can to stop the project there,” says Hurst.

He says state parks are already under funded.

“Our argument has been and will continue to be let’s fix what we’ve got before we open a new one,” says Hurst.

Eric Oberg, director of trail development for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says corridors of this type are few and far between and he hopes it will become a world-class trail.

Julie Harker of Brownfield Ag News contributed to this story.

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