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SIU Credit Union gives $500K to Touch of Nature for outdoor pavilion and more

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A $500,000 gift from the SIU Credit Union to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center will allow the construction of an outdoor gathering and event center as a compliment to the facility’s expanding network of mountain bike trails.

Touch of Nature Director Tanner said the funds will be used to build an outdoor pavilion, meeting space and restroom facilities near the bicycle trailhead parking area.

“This is a big boost to our mountain bike multi-use trail project,” he said, explaining the facility will boost educational programs and area tourism. “I think we’re going to see a big change in Southern Illinois and that is us becoming a tourist destination for riders.”

Tanner said Touch of Nature currently has about ten miles of bicycle trails, with plans to double or triple the amount.

“We want to reach that 20-mile category and then the 30-mile category because that’s what riders are looking for when they come to an area,” he said.

SIU Credit Union President/CEO Mike Lantrip called Touch of Nature “a shining star.”

“When we think of what is going to happen with the mountain bike trails and other projects and how that is going to help our economy, our restaurants, our hotels, the people that work in this region and all of our members, it’s going to be that this star is going to be that much brighter,” he said.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane said, “Touch of Nature is a pride and joy of SIU. We have our own oasis right there. This partnership with SIU Credit Union is magnificent. This gift will provide the credit union with great visibility among our students and the community.”

Tanner said he hopes to break ground in spring for the new facility, called the SIU Credit Union Event Center at Touch of Nature.



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