A New Trail at Chief Shabbona Forest Preserve


On Saturday, July 7 at 10:00 a ceremony will be held to dedicate the trail to former DeKalb County Trail Riders Association Vice President Frank O’Barski.  In addition to members of the DeKalb County Trail Riders Association, Terry Hannan, DeKalb County Forest Preserve District Superintendent; Bob Brown, DeKalb County Forest Preserve District Committee Chairman; Tom Demmer, State Representative; Tony Troyer, 2nd Vice President of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois; Dr. Suzanne Willis, Mr. O’Barski’s widow; representatives from several equestrian trail groups and others will be in attendance.

Frank, who also was a DeKalb County Board member from 2012 until his passing in 2016, was a strong advocate for gardening, nature and trails…especially equestrian trails.  He told fond stories of riding the beach on a favored horse out in San Francisco a few years before relocating to DeKalb to marry his soulmate, Dr. Suzanne Willis.

Frank was instrumental in helping found the DeKalb County Trail Riders Association (DCTRA), an equestrian trail advocacy group in 2011, when the need for more multiuse equestrian trails in DeKalb County was identified.  He and other interested equestrians worked on regaining the multi-use trail in Chief Shabbona Forest Preserve, at the southern end of DeKalb County and the group continues its work on acquiring multi-use equestrian trails in the 1500 acre Shabbona Lake State Park, which adjoins Chief Shabbona Forest Preserve.

DeKalb County Trail Riders Association continues to work with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on opening trails in Shabbona Lake State Park which would be multi-use and based on already-existing snowmobile trails.  Since Chief Shabbona Forest Preserve borders the State park, the hope is that a pathway will eventually be made that will join the two parks via a multi-use trail that would afford hikers/equestrians much easier access to these adjoining parks in DeKalb County.

The DeKalb County Trail Riders Association leadership consists of Frankie Benson, Peter Dordal, Patsy Ryan, Jan Knudsen and Ginger Romano.  Our Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/DeKalb-County-Trail-Riders-Association-115410381870277/

For more information about the ceremony or this article please contact Ms. Benson at 815-766-0667.


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