COLUMBIA - Tuesday morning Sutu Forté was arrested after protesting the construction of the Shepard to Rollins trail. This plan for the trail has been in the works for six years, but the idea behind it goes back 25 years.
25 years ago, several trail projects were identified to the 1994 parks master plan. Columbia became one of four communities back in the early 2000’s that received a federal grant of $25 million.
The federal grant money was to create non-motorized transportation options for residents. This included the proposal for the Shepard to Rollins trail project.
In 2013, the Shepard to Rollins trail project was added to the GetAbout Project, a collaboration between the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments of the city.
The first meeting occurred in March of 2015 where the public got a chance to speak out publicly about the project for the first time. It took almost 3 years for the proposed construction to be approved in February 2018.
Director of Parks and Recreation, Mike Griggs said at the time, “This is one of the last big gaps located in what I like to call, the heart of the city, so getting this project done is critical.”
At the beginning of 2019, Circuit Judge Jeff Harris ruled that the city met all of the requirements for the construction of the trail to begin, and by March 2019 the construction began.
In October of 2019, the It’s Our Wild Nature nonprofit organization, presented a petition to Columbia City Council opposing the construction of the trail.
In 2018 Co-chair of It’s Our Wild Nature, Sutu Forté, spoke with KOMU about why she opposes the trail.
“Connectivity exists already,” Forté said. “It’s a big waste of money and it’s such a destruction of a beautiful ecosystem.”
On October 28th, Forte began protesting the construction of the trail by living inside of a tree for several days.
Tuesday, Forté was removed from the tree by a firetruck's hydraulic bucket, handcuffed and put into a Boone County Sheriff Department vehicle. She was released from jail a short time later. She was issued a citation for trespassing.