Former Des Moines Register columnist Chuck Offenburger has been honored at the 2013 Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference in Matteson, Ill. for his work on behalf of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.

The Iowa Department of Transportation was a co-sponsor for the late October event, which honored a person and a project with a significant impact on trails in each of the nine member states. The conference also recognized the Fairfield Loop Trail, a 16-mile trail that circles the City of Fairfield.

Offenburger, who resides near Cooper in Greene County, is a member of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association Board and was instrumental in creating the association in 2006, officials said. The Raccoon River Valley Trail has become a popular destination trail in Iowa through his efforts and those of the association to organize festivals, plan rides, install signage and trail art, organize ambassador groups, and host economic summits.

With the recent completion of the interior loop, the Raccoon River Valley Trail is now 89 miles and is the longest paved loop trail in the nation. Offenburger’s enthusiasm, visionary leadership, and creative writing style on the trail’s website have all contributed to the popularity of trail riding in Iowa and economic growth in the communities along the Raccoon River Valley Trail, Iowa DOT officials said.

The recently completed 16-mile Fairfield Loop Trail was built one segment at a time to circle the city of Fairfield. In 2009, two major segments were completed; the Iowa DOT-South segment built by the Iowa DOT that parallels a new U.S. 34 bypass and the Bill Matkin Memorial Bridge that allows safe passage for trail users over busy Iowa 1. The Loop Trail begins and ends next to the historic Maasdam Barns, which was recently renovated to a popular museum and visitor center. With more than a decade of volunteerism, the Jefferson County Trails Council and many community volunteers made this trail vision a reality with a bold and ambitious plan for a small rural community.

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