After months of uncertainty, the familiar smiles of volunteers returned in a big way as 2021 progressed. Small events at the beginning of the year built toward the return of our large-scale projects. Despite shifting circumstances, trust quickly emerged as the season theme. Trust the plan. Trust Crew Leaders to lead. Trust volunteers to work carefully. Trust the skills, dedication, and passion of everyone who showed up to an event. As a result, we greeted August with a rousing return to near normalcy – hosting almost 100 volunteers and spanning two segments – that added three new miles of Trail in Dane County. A few months later, the ribbon (and cake) was cut on the newly minted Ringle Segment, an achievement worthy of a year filled with smiles.
By the Numbers: 2021 Successes
552 Volunteers Engaged
13,159 Volunteer Hours Logged
8 Bridges Totaling 164 Feet
23 Boardwalks/Puncheons, Totaling 1,813 Feet
1 Timber Wall, Totaling 21 Feet
13 Rock Walls, Totaling 165 Feet
4 Rock Steps
31,944 Feet of Sustainable Tread
6.42 Miles of New Trail
Summary of 2021 Trailbuilding and Land Stewardship Events
With eyes firmly fixed on an improved hiker experience, the Dane County Chapter worked to make the one-mile section between Piller Road and the Badger State Trail something special. Long before the sawdust-filled days preassembling frames and cutting deck boards, the Chapter diligently removed invasive species and reseeded a former prairie. Despite rainy weather, 20 volunteers constructed 311 feet of boardwalk and a 12-foot bridge, contributing 351 hours. These structures offer easier passage for hikers across standing water and notoriously muddy conditions.
Despite sweltering heat and violent weather, two new Ice Age Trail sections opened after a five-day trailbuilding event. The efforts of 86 volunteers, donating 1,852 hours, created a new 1.1-mile path through Alliance-owned Mammoth’s Back Preserve including a 147-foot boardwalk. Gaps closed along the Valley View Segment created 1.6-mile road walk reprieve. And, experts from across the state built a 400-foot boardwalk across this segment’s suburban swamp. Outdoor enthusiasts living in Cross Plains and Verona (and beyond) benefit from three more miles of Trail.
The less-than-stellar weather coupled with a record mosquito hatch attempted to slow down dedicated volunteer crews. Over 4.5 days and through rain, mud, and clouds of bug spray, 78 volunteers contributed 1,972 hours to open a beautiful new half-mile section of Trail. Volunteers cut and hauled lumber, built bridges, constructed rock walls, painted blazes, crafted tread and slung rotten granite through the air via a highline to more easily – and safely – create a hardened walking surface through a moss-covered boulder field.
104 volunteers donated 2,718 hours to bring the final trailbuilding event of this epic project across the finish line. It took 5 years, 11 events, 1,161 volunteers, and 26,650 hours before champagne corks popped and volunteers raised a glass. Saying thank you feels insufficient compared to the accomplishment’s scale: opening the seven-mile section of the reimaginged Ringle Segment. Hewn from rocky ground, every hour volunteers invested in this multi-year project forged a world-class section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
A Wednesday stewardship series, Weeding & Wine, premiered in 2021. The long summer evenings offered the after-work crowd a chance to stretch their legs, meet new friends (and sip wine!), and help maintain biodiversity in an Alliance-owned preserve. A total of 40 volunteers contributed 142 hours pulling thousands of plants – translating to the removal of millions of weed seeds – from SwampLovers’ prairie and savannah. This labor of love protects these ecosystems from invading non-native species. During September’s event, volunteers also collected native prairie seed. Purple Prairie Clover, Pale Purple Coneflower, and Rosinweed will be planted next spring at SwampLovers’ Preserve and other nature preserves throughout Dane County, increasing biodiversity and pollinator habitat.
Thank you to our 2021 Trailbuilding and Land Stewardship Partners and Sponsors!
Preserve at Hunters Lake Homeowners Association
Thank you for joining us for the 2021 Trailbuilding and Land Stewardship Season!