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Volunteers raise the Prairie Forest Trail Sign in Shellsburg; residents have seen much progress.

After much planning, things are really moving along in creating the Prairie Forest Trail in Shellsburg. The trailhead is located at the north end of Pearl Street and provides a link to an already existing trail through the woods and a restored prairie just east of the Shellsburg Elementary School. The Shellsburg Area Community Group (SACG) raised funds for this project through a quilt raffle last fall and successfully applied for a grant from the Keep Iowa Beautiful Foundation. This generous grant has been used for the purchase of materials and labor is being provided by community volunteers.

One of the trail improvements is not visible from the street, but is very important to making the trail a walkable loop. A previous foot bridge over a waterway had washed away and needed to be replaced. Bridge materials were delivered on July 31st. Volunteers led by local contractor, Ron Brehm, got right to work and a twenty foot bridge, six feet wide was completed by the following day. Cement pilings were poured for the new trail entrance sign and on August 5th the metal Prairie Forest Trail sign was erected by city volunteers. Grant money was also used for the purchase of materials for a split rail fence on the west side of the trail entrance. Rex Miller donated his time and equipment to help dig the post holes on August 14th and volunteers constructed the split rail fence. The addition of a new trash receptacle near the trail entrance isn’t as exciting, but is needed to help keep our trail clean.

Jay Herman is the chair of this Community Visioning committee and he has spent countless hours in coordinating this trail effort. This has been an excellent example of good things happening when people work together. Of course, this whole project is possible because of the school’s cooperation in allowing us to create this trail entrance on their property. City staff have provided equipment for moving stacks of lumber, delivering and grading dirt and lifting the entrance sign into place as well as guidance on placement of the sign and fence. And then there has been the great support of community volunteers stepping up to the plate, providing equipment, labor and the “know-how” to get things done!! I won’t try to list names, but a huge thank you goes out to everyone for their contributions.

There is certainly more work to be done on the trail entrance, with more grading, additional split rail fence, seeding, a bench and landscaping to come within the next few weeks. Residents of Shellsburg are giving the project a “thumbs up” and we just wanted to share our excitement about this important community improvement.

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