Road construction will limit access to IATA headquarters this summer

Due to construction on Hwy 14 (Main St.) in Cross Plains, access to the Alliance’s headquarters and the Trail’s Cross Plains Segment will be limited this summer and into the fall. Starting Monday, March 30, Hwy 14 will be closed from Market St./CTH KP on the west to CTH P on the east from April through November.

If you’re coming to Cross Plains to visit the office during that time, please use the following detour routes:

  1. From the north: Follow CTH P south to Valley St. Turn right on Valley and continue to travel south. Turn right onto Lewis St. and left onto Jovina St. Follow Jovina to Hwy 14, where you can cross Hwy 14 onto Mill Creek Parkway (formerly Lagoon St.) to access the IATA headquarters parking lot.
  2. From the east: From Hwy 14, turn right on Brewery Rd. (Walgreens is on the NW corner). Continue across CTH P, turn left onto Valley St. and follow the directions in Option 1.
  3. From the south: Travel north on CTH P. If it is open at the intersection of Hwy 14, continue north on P, turn left onto Valley St. and follow the directions in Option 1. If it is closed, turn right on Hwy 14 to Brewery Rd. and follow the directions in Option 2.
  4. From the west: From Hwy 14, turn left onto Market St. and right onto Park St. Follow to Wilson St. and turn right. Follow Wilson to Hwy 14, where you can cross Hwy 14 onto Mill Creek Parkway (formerly Lagoon St.) and follow east to access the IATA headquarters parking lot.

Here are a few other resources:

Call our office at (608) 798-4453 or (800) 227-0046 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday if you have any questions.

 

Now is the time to support the Ice Age Trail

The threat

We introduced in a previous post the severe impact the governor’s proposed state budget would have on protection for and development of the Ice Age Trail. Since then, we have learned more about the proposed budget and further negative impacts it would have on the Trail if the budget does not change.

The major hit would come from a 13-year freeze on land acquisition funding through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, affecting both direct acquisition by the state and grants to the Alliance. This would limit the collective effort of the DNR and the Alliance to protect land for the Ice Age Trail.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has had a significant role in making protection of the Trail possible:

  • Since 2000, the Stewardship Program has helped fund more than 150 acquisitions for the Trail, which now permanently protect more than 85 miles of Trail on 14,000 acres.
  • The Ice Age Trail Alliance has used Stewardship Program 55 times to protect more than 3,300 acres to make the Ice Age Trail more contiguous. Each one of these 55 Stewardship purchases by the Alliance was leveraged with private, county or other funds.
  • The DNR has acquired Ice Age Trail rights on more than 100 properties for the Trail over time – nearly all of these used the Stewardship Program.
  • Since 2000, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and our partners at the National Park Service have successfully leveraged more than $14 million from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund – funds that would have gone elsewhere in the country if not used in Wisconsin with matching Stewardship funds.
  • For some perspective here, bonding for the Stewardship fund costs 30 cents per person per week, an annual cost that’s less than an annual fishing license or state park pass. Just like most of us take out a mortgage to acquire a home and pay it off while it appreciates, the same goes for acquiring land. Land will not be any cheaper in the future, and everyone is able to use the land now and forever. Interest rates are also incredibly low at this time – it’s a good time to buy.

The further threat comes from the elimination of state funding to support the Ice Age Trail, which has directly benefited the Trail for nearly 20 years. Its elimination would inhibit the Alliance’s ability to maintain and support the 650 miles of existing Trail that more than a million people enjoy each year.

The state’s historically reliable funding source has contributed to the success of the Ice Age Trail and Ice Age Trail Alliance:

  • Since 1997, we have received funding through the DNR budget to help the state promote, develop and maintain the Ice Age Trail – the only state scenic trail.
  • These funds are money well spent as annually they have been leveraged with nearly 80,000 volunteer hours, more than $500,000 in private donations, and as much as $400,000 in federal support.
  • It will be nearly impossible to make up with private donations the loss in funding from the elimination of state funding to support the Trail. Despite the Alliance’s long record of success, we would have to start evaluating which of our important programs we can retain.

These cuts would severely impact current and future development of the Ice Age Trail. We need your action to help make the dream of a thousand-mile footpath a reality.

What can you do?

Contact your local representatives and ask them to support the Ice Age Trail by saving the Stewardship Program. Tell them that the Ice Age Trail is important to you, your family, your community and the state of Wisconsin.

Along with the talking points above, we’ve developed the following to help you shape your message:

  • The Ice Age Trail is a local resource. More than 3.4 million Wisconsinites live within a one-hour drive of the Ice Age Trail, and 18 million Americans live within a two-hour drive.
  • The Ice Age Trail is an important component of our state’s economy. According to a 2012 study, an estimated 1.25 million people use the Ice Age Trail each year. Trail users contribute $113 million to the local and state economy annually.
  • The Ice Age Trail is an economic resource. In Wisconsin, outdoor recreation generates $11.9 billion in consumer spending; 142,000 direct Wisconsin jobs equaling $3.6 billion in wages and salaries; and $844 million in state and local tax revenue.

Though these talking points will help you support your message, don’t be afraid to tell your representatives about your personal story. Your experience is important and makes the best impression.

What’s next?

The legislative fiscal bureau has released their report on the Stewardship Program. The Joint Finance Committee will now debate the budget, including the Stewardship Program.

It is vital that your representatives hear from you. Ask them to support the Ice Age Trail and the Stewardship Program and to share their support with their colleagues who are on the Joint Finance Committee. Please consider sharing with us any responses you receive.

If you have not already done so, sign up for our Advocacy Alerts. We will provide periodic updates and may request additional assistance, asking those of you who sign up to take additional steps, such as meeting with your legislators.

 

Register now for 2015 Mobile Skills Crew events

Sunrise Stretches_long

Since becoming a National Scenic Trail 35 years ago, the Ice Age Trail has grown new audiences, welcomed new segments and nurtured the next generation of outdoor stewards.

Mobile Skills Crew events carry and expand on these themes, bringing new faces and ideas to the Trail and to the Alliance.

Register for one or many of this season’s projects below. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie of an MSC event and help keep the Trail the enduring inspiration that it is.

If you’re planning on attending multiple projects, this printable season schedule [PDF] may be helpful.

Finally, be sure to make time to hike the many new and improved sections of Ice Age Trail, hewn by you and other dedicated and determined volunteers in the coming months!

 

Threats to the Ice Age Trail

You probably heard the recent news regarding the proposed Wisconsin state budget and freeze on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Land protection and state funding for the Trail could be at a standstill. The future of the Ice Age Trail is threatened.

Read links for background information:

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program makes significant land protection possible on the Ice Age Trail. Since 1991, the Ice Age Trail Alliance has used the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program 55 times to protect more than 3,300 acres for the Ice Age Trail. Each one of these Stewardship purchases was leveraged with private, county or other funds. Also, the DNR has acquired Ice Age Trail rights on more than 100 properties using Stewardship funds. The importance of the Stewardship Program to the Ice Age Trail cannot be overstated.

St. Croix Falls Segment_Polk County_IATA

In August 2014, Mobile Skills Crew volunteers constructed 2.4 miles of new Ice Age Trail on the St. Croix Falls Segment in Polk County. Protection of the Trail was made possible by the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. [Photo by Dave Caliebe]

The Stewardship program contributes to the 650 miles of Trail open for your use. With approximately 500 miles of future Ice Age Trail left to protect, the Trail needs you today.

Please contact your state legislators. Share with them why the Ice Age Trail is important to you and that the Stewardship Program is important for the Trail.

Will you continue to be an advocate for the Ice Age Trail? Sign up today to receive advocacy alerts.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance continues to examine the details of the proposed budget. Working with conservation partners around the state, we will strategize over the next few weeks how to best mitigate this threat to the future of the Ice Age Trail. You will hear from us!

 

College-bound volunteers can apply for the Doug “Stickman” Sherman Scholarship

Thousands of volunteers dedicate themselves to the Ice Age Trail each year. All of these efforts are worth a bundle, and now those heading off to college can really cash in.

We’re excited to announce that we are accepting applications for the Ice Age Trail Alliance Doug “Stickman” Sherman scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time in 2015 to a college-bound young adult who has volunteered with the Alliance.

A photo of Doug "Stickman" Sherman

The scholarship honors the work of Doug “Stickman” Sherman, a longtime Alliance volunteer who passed away in 2014. Over a number of years, Stickman hand-carved hundreds of hiking sticks for students taking part in Saunters, the Alliance’s school program that brings kids onto the Ice Age Trail.

For weeks on end, students carried Doug’s creations all across Wisconsin – along the shores of the Wisconsin River, on towering bluffs overlooking Devil’s Lake, through the deepest northwoods forests, around the crags of Eau Claire Dells and across vast prairies.

Stickman sticks 1 Stickman sticks 2

 

The sticks provided balance, confidence and a helping hand. In essence, Stickman was with young hikers every step of the way as they explored the Ice Age Trail and took on a steady calm that only the solace of nature can provide. We are happy to carry on Mr. Sherman’s positive impact to tomorrow’s Trail supporters through this scholarship.

How to Apply

The Doug “Stickman” Sherman Scholarship is a one-time $500 award and is open to young adults who are preparing to go to college. In order to qualify, applicants must have:

  • A history of volunteering with the Ice Age Trail Alliance and/or serving as a Saunters mentor
  • A love of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and a desire to create, support and protect the Trail for future generations
  • Future goals that include a degree in the environmental or education fields or a related field

Interested students should reference the application form [PDF] for complete instructions on how to apply. All submissions must be postmarked by March 1, 2015.

 

Welcome to our New Website!

Take a look around! We’re excited about all the ways our new website will help you get out on the Ice Age Trail.

Some highlights:

  • Our new Trail Map gives you a statewide map with layers of the Trail, connecting routes and parking lots. If you scroll down on that page, you can also find a download for GPS waypoints and updates to the Ice Age Trail Guidebook.
  • Recommended Hikes has details for our favorite day hikes and backpacking trips all along the Trail.
  • We adapted this from our previous website, but we still think it’s great: About the Ice Age Trail gives you an intro to the Trail and some interesting facts.

We hope you enjoy the new website and find it helpful for answering all your questions about the Ice Age Trail. If there’s something you can’t find, you can always give our office a call during business hours at (800) 227-0046 or send an email to [email protected]

 

Explore new Trail in Chippewa County

Make your way to Wisconsin’s Northwoods this fall to hike 1.5 miles of new Ice Age Trail on the Harwood Lakes Segment.

At a Mobile Skills Crew trail building event this fall, volunteers built new trail and upgraded over 3 miles of signage, continuing work from a fall 2013 project. The properties that host the new Trail are permanently protected by conservation easements held by the Alliance thanks to a partnership with Chippewa County and the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes.

Volunteers also extended the Trail by half a mile on the Chippewa River Segment, eliminating a section of road walk. The new Trail here is protected as well, thanks to a partnership with the Chippewa County Land Conservancy. The state Knowles Nelson Stewardship program and federal Land and Water Conservation Fund contributed to the protection of this property, where more new Trail is planned for the future.

View the online trail map to see the new Trail, or reference Map 16f in your Ice Age Trail Atlas.

THANK YOU to our volunteers, and happy hiking!

 

Hunting Season and Hiking on the Ice Age Trail

There can be a lot of details to navigate when you hike the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin’s fall and winter seasons: hunting season dates, trail closures on private property, and public lands where the Trail is open and hunting is also allowed.

Visit our Hiking During Hunting Seasons page to get a full breakdown of all the things to consider. Here are the main things you’ll want to remember:

  • WEAR BLAZE ORANGE or other bright colors. This applies to you and your pet. We consider October through April Blaze Orange Season on the Trail.
  • THE TRAIL CLOSES IN SOME AREAS WHERE IT CROSSES PRIVATE PROPERTY. The Trail Conditions page has information on sections that close, but it may not have all of them. Many of our volunteer chapter coordinators know the parts of the Trail that close in their region; contact the coordinator in the area you want to hike to find out about Trail closures. Sections that close should also have on-the-ground signage announcing the details of the closure.
  • THE 9-DAY GUN DEER SEASON is from November 22-30 this year. This is the most popular season and the time you’re most likely to see your hiking options limited.

Join us for our final Regional Rally Nov. 8

Our third and final Regional Rally will take place Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Hausmann Nature Center in the Lapham Peak unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Everyone is welcome! If you’ve wanted to learn more about volunteering or spending time on the Ice Age Trail, this is a great opportunity to get involved. Participants will be sharing stories and updates from the Trail, and IATA staff will guide discussions and training on various topics.

You do not need to be an IATA member or volunteer to participate. The day runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and lunch is provided.

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Brad Crary at (608) 798-4453 or [email protected]