Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012 12:00 am

Mark DeCracker and a dedicated group of volunteers are well on their way to reaching a 2011 resolution in 2012 — a Forever Wild for Everyone trail behind the Lyons Community Center.

The first Forever Wild trail was dedicated last June at Huckleberry Swamp in North Rose, a mile-long boardwalk that’s easy for even wheelchairs and baby strollers to navigate.

DeCracker said the dedication attracted about 75 people, about a third of them in wheelchairs. Given the honor of cutting the ribbon was Leigh Ann Henry of Lyons, who has been in a wheelchair since a car accident two years ago.

As the organizers counted down from 10 to cut the ribbon, Henry got so excited she cut the ribbon at 8, DeCracker said.

She also expressed that she couldn’t wait until her own trail is built — and DeCracker is happy to report that it’s well on its way in her hometown of Lyons.

What was essentially a large dirt pile right off the parking lot of the Lyons Community Center in March is being transformed into a quarter-mile long trail with gardens, a place to feed ducks and even a covered bridge.

The group’s vision is to have an educational and recreational trail filled with native species, where the young and old, ambulatory and wheelchair-bound can enjoy and learn about nature.

“We want to open the outdoors to everyone so we have it for future generations,” said DeCracker, who said the entire community has come together to make this dream a reality.

Children helped plant; Wal-Mart and Seneca Meadows gave grant donations; Diane Young created the landscape design; Phelps Cement donated pavers and landscaping cloth; Santo Montemorando and Paul Stoep gave gravel, rocks and stone dust; Brian Secor of Secor Lumber gave supplies for the covered bridge; Adam Chapin and Larry Graf offered their Bobcat and grading expertise; residents donated use of their Bobcats, Windy Hill Flower Farm and Millpond Evergreen Nursery; and the list goes on.

“I can’t say enough how the community businesses came together,” DeCracker said.

He anticipates the trail will be dedicated this May or June. Although winter is a quiet time for work — with just some landscaping planning on the horizon — the group benefited from a mild fall and was able to complete the covered bridge in late November.

DeCracker is excited about reintroducing nature to the young and old who may have lost touch with it.

“This shows you can take a semi-urban place and turn it into nature,” he said. “Nature hasn’t always been there, but you can bring it back.”

For video clips on the trails’ progress, see these YouTube clips: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=n0je4OpPMpg andwww.youtube.com/watch?v=b6no9P5NEZ0.

Porter is editor of Life by the Lakes.


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