Neillsville group pushing forward on recreational trail idea

Landowners and neighbors living next to the old Neillsville-Granton-Chili railroad corridor have voiced concerns over the past few months about a proposed bike trail project on the railroad bed. In an attempt to address and alleviate those concerns, the Neillsville Improvement Corporation (NIC) held an informational meeting about the project on April 18.
More than 75 residents from the Neillsville, Granton and Chili area came to the meeting to listen to a presentation about the project being undertaken by NIC. Because NIC wished to speak to landowners on a case-by-case basis about the trail, questions were limited during the meeting, though landowners were encouraged to leave contact information following the meeting to discuss their individual concerns about the project.
Dan Clough, president of NIC, said the Rails to Trails project has been in the feasibility stages for many years. After concluding that revitalizing the trail is still possible after almost 40 years of inactivity, NIC has entered the planning stage of the project.
“Four years ago, we started a feasibility study. Can it be done? We researched the deeds, easements and leases (on the railroad line). We checked the FEMA floodplain maps and the DNR designated wetlands,” he said. “We did all that and we decided we can do the next step.”
Currently, most of the old, approximately 13-mile long railroad line is owned by Xcel Energy and is used as a route for its power lines. In a few areas, the line is either owned or is leased to landowners along the route, which is used for farming, hunting and other private uses.

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