Constant lobbying by fans of the east branch of Fabyan Woods will result in the formation of a volunteer group to take over that aspect of a redevelopment plan that impacts the surrounding 700-acre campus. Having won their way up to now, there's only one more element of the plan that could possibly be a point of contention regarding the woods.
The current plan still calls for a paved access trail through the woods to connect the proposed new mountain bike trail, cross country track, observatory and other pending amenities to the Fox River Trail. The paved path would be eight-feet wide and designed to accommodate all nonmotorized traffic, which includes people riding mountain bikes. That particular activity, in the illegal form it currently exists in the Fabyan Woods, is what initially drew calls to eliminate the woods from the redevelopment plan.
On Tuesday, Kane County Board member Mike Donahue, who leads the committee handling the Fabyan property redevelopment, said fans of the woods would have autonomy to come up with a plan for the woods. That plan, however, absolutely must include the paved trail through the woods.
"My sense is they understand the importance of being able to connect the Fox River Trail to the rest of the campus," Donahue said. "I'm confident they'll come up with solutions for the access path without compromising any environmental attributes in the woods."
Donahue said if the volunteer group fails, or if the woods were taken out of the redevelopment vision, the potential increases for the woods to slip back to the unkept, non-policed area that currently exists. If the trail becomes a reality, it would be the first time supporters of the woods have publicly agreed to any legal mountain biking through the woods.
A Kane County Forest Preserve committee will officially form the volunteer group at a meeting next week. Donahue said he already has a number of people who've asked to join the "Fabyan Woods Restoration Group." The volunteers will be supported in their efforts by forest preserve staff.