Run to raise funds for shelter

An upcoming 5K run will help raise money for something that outdoor enthusiasts around the area will appreciate: a shelter near the trails at Lake of the Woods' Buffalo Trace Prairie.

The open-air shelter is slated to be built near the Crowley Road entrance to the trails. Mahomet Rotary Club is partnering with the Champaign County Forest Preserve District to fund construction of the structure.

"We picked that site because there was a really old barn there at one time," CCFPD Executive Director Dan Olson said. "A lot of people still remember it."

This year's Run for the Library, a joint fundraiser for Mahomet Public Library and Mahomet Rotary, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Lake of the Woods.  Rotary's half of the proceeds will go toward construction of the Buffalo Trace shelter, with the other half going to support library programming.

Olson said that CCFPD gets frequent requests for a shelter at the site. Buffalo Trace is popular with runners, bicyclists and walkers, and Mahomet-Seymour cross-country teams can often be found on its winding paths. It's also become a popular location for benefit runs and other special events.

"People like having an area there to rest or get ready to get on the trail," he said.

The shelter will be 15-feet-by-15-feet, accessible by a sidewalk from the parking lot. Olson said that the shelter will be fully handicapped-accessible, the first shelter at Lake of the Woods to meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

The price tag for the shelter is around $15,000, with Rotary and CCFPD splitting the cost equally.

Doug Bosworth, secretary of Mahomet Rotary, said that the idea of helping construct a shelter at Buffalo Trace came about shortly after the club's founding over ten years ago.

"For years, the Rotary has talked about funding that project," he said. "We felt it was a community need."

About three years ago, the club approached CCFPD with the idea. Now, they're over halfway to their fundraising goal, with about $4,500 earmarked for the project. Bosworth said that they hope to raise the rest of the funds at the Run for the Library.

The shelter is scheduled to be in place by November 2013, with CCFPD completing concrete work in-house. Bosworth said that Rotary members were also interested in helping provide picnic tables or benches for the site, as well as lending a hand with landscaping.

Rotarians aren't the only community members helping spruce up Buffalo Trace; Olson said that a local Eagle Scout had recently installed bike racks at the Crowley Road entrance, helping provide more amenities to the park's users. Several other Eagle Scouts have lent their skills to the area over the years, installing trail markers, constructing footbridges and building benches.

Olson said that the forest preserve district is grateful for Rotary's help with the project and the fundraising boost provided by the Run for the Library.

"We're very appreciative," he said.

More information on the Run for the Library is available online at www.facebook.com/runforthelibrary, as well as at www.mahometpubliclibrary.org and www.mahometrotary.org.

Registration and check-in start at 7:30 a.m. on the morning of the race at the Lake of the Woods Pavilion. The 5K run starts at 9 a.m., with walkers immediately following.

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