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On the Trail
During their many years of IPP involvement,
Nancy says the Wilsons’ favorite volunteer
activities have been leading bird and wild-
flower walks along the path, helping restore
prairies, and planting trees and flowers.
The Wilsons are most drawn to the natural
areas along the trail northwest of Wheaton,
including Lincoln Marsh, where majestic
views of wetlands and prairie open up, and
Pratt’s Wayne Woods, which encompasses
creeks and sprawling wetlands inhabited by
water birds.
The Moorings are less physically mobile
now and don’t explore the extent of the
trail as much as they would like. Still, they
visit the trail frequently and often can be
seen sitting at its primary crossroads in
Wheaton, where the main stem of the path
splits in two, branching northwest toward
Elgin and southwest toward Aurora.
Flowers, prairie grasses and outdoor
sculpture adorn the small park where they
like to sit. The facility is named Volunteer
Park in honor of the Moorings, the Wilsons
and the dozens of other volunteers who
have nurtured the trail for the past 50 years.
The unflagging dedication of the
Moorings, the Wilsons and other IPP vol-
unteers has been recognized locally and
nationally. In the Chicago region, numer-
ous newspaper articles have appeared show-
casing the couples’ volunteer work. A local
environmental organization at one time
handed out an annual award to trail advo-
cates; the award was named in honor of
Paul and Jean Mooring. Then in 1988, IPP
volunteers received a national Take Pride in
America Award. At a White House ceremo-
ny, the Moorings stepped forward to accept
the award on behalf of all the dedicated
volunteers who have made the IPP both an
inspiration and a destination.
Ted Villaire is the author of
Best Rail Trails Illinois
and five other guidebooks focusing on hiking,
bicycling and camping in Illinois. He serves as the
editorial manager at the Active Transportation
Alliance in Chicago.
There is something about their complete
dedication to the trail—it’s a different level of
commitment, and
is a real treasure,” says
Malach of the Moorings (left) and theWilsons;
below left) theWilsons at the trail’s 50th
anniversary celebration on October 3, 2012.