After a summer of interning with the Alliance Trail Program, I am officially part of the team as Field Operations Specialist. So, please stop calling and emailing Mike. You did it. I’m hired. Thank you!
It is an honor to be transitioning into the Director of Trail Operations position with the Alliance. As a Wisconsin native, my passion and professional pursuits focused on outdoor recreation. The glacial Chain O’ Lakes of Waupaca provided my early education for what water, woods, and wildlife could do for my soul. Nature also fueled my studies at UW-Madison. Exploring lakeshore paths and Arboretum habitats, ultimately led to my degree in horticulture and natural resource management.
As the air grows chilly and snow begins to appear in the forecast, it can be tempting to huddle indoors.
But don’t close the shutters till spring just yet!
Our Trail Communities are proving there are many opportunities to get out and into the festive spirit throughout the month. Venture out and enjoy the lights, the snacks, and the community at any of these upcoming events!
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.
This holiday season, consider supporting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail while buying gifts for the people you love!
There are several ways you can support the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this holiday season AND get all of your holiday shopping done. See a list of three ways you can shop online and support the Ice Age Trail below.
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 you invested in this five-year project forged a world-class section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Right in our backyard, your selfless dedication created a lasting legacy. We spend our lives working toward achievements in which we take pride. If we’re fortunate, we may create something that lives beyond us. In this case, a signature segment contributing to the health and happiness of people we may never meet.
Be proud of the work you’ve done and what you’ve helped accomplish.
A blend of on-your-own hikes and virtual events kicked off Trailtessa events in 2021. Our planning focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping participants safe. Happily, many new and seasoned Trailtessa attendees (325 in fact!) joined us for these adventures. As fall approached, we offered two outdoor in-person events, enabling participants to be together, build camaraderie, and still maintain social distance.
At the confluence of great weather and great volunteers is a great project. In the case of this year’s Wildcard event, three projects on three segments.
Calls of “Coming through!” rang out as hikers passed through the work area. The heavy hiker traffic caused frequent but not unwelcome interruptions. “Holy sh*t!” one hiker exclaimed. “I was here a couple of days ago, and this wasn’t here.”
Now’s a great time to become a member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance!
Your membership will support trailbuilding activities happening in 2022. It will also help with land protection efforts. Plus, it will also get you an exclusive Ice Age Trail Alliance stocking cap (while supplies last!).
The nine-day gun deer hunting season (November 20 – 28) spans the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when friends and family gather. It’s natural to want to introduce your loved ones to the Ice Age Trail, yet safe hiking options are limited. Keeping this in mind, we have 16 hikes to share with you where deer hunting is not allowed. Most of these options take place in or near Ice Age Trail Communitiesand are a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.
2020 reawakened a love of the outdoors in many Wisconsinites. A perfect distillation of this excitement came from our Waterville Gap Campaign to help get the Trail off of a dangerous road walk in Waukesha County. The call to action went out in July of 2020, and by September we had exceeded our fundraising goal. In an astonishing show of grassroots philanthropy, the project was funded and purchased in under five months, and the new Trail opened in just over a year.
With fall rounding the corner, we bid farewell to long summer evenings, prairies in bloom and abuzz with pollinators, and weed pulling activities. It’s sad for all of us. As the days grow shorter, we can think back to the sunsets shared on Picnic Hill to get us through the darkness of winter.
Thank you to the 40 volunteers who contributed 142 hours in our first year of the Weeding & Wine Wednesday volunteer event series. Their dedication through rain or shine and positive attitudes made this season a great success.
The response to the Ice Age Trail Alliance fundraising campaign to permanently protect property for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Langlade County was INCREDIBLE. In little over a month, supporters donated nearly $160,000—exceeding our initial fundraising goal way before deadline!
Your commitment impressed the trustees of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust so much they decided to increase their match from $120,ooo to $200,000!Thanks to your generosity and that of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust, the Alliance will be able to protect and preserve additional land across the state.
The less-than-stellar weather, coupled with a record hatch of mosquitos, attempted to slow down the 78 dedicated volunteers at the Ringle Trailbuilding event. Over four and a half days, and through rain, mud, and clouds of bug spray, 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, drafted 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.
The stage is set, and with October rapidly approaching, we await the final act in the Reimagining of Ringle saga.
Ice Age Trail Alliance is the Recipient of 2020 National Hartzog Volunteer Group Award
Volunteers’ hard work and dedication not only builds, supports, and maintains the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, it also wins awards.
During a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, August 25, Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers and staff were named recipients of the 2020 National Hartzog Award for Group Volunteer Service. Bestowed annually by the National Park Service (NPS), the prestigious George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service recognize the “exemplary contributions” NPS volunteers make to their park and community.
In 2020, while most National Parks shut down and volunteer activities were stymied, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail remained open and its volunteers continued trailbuilding, maintenance, and support. In fact, a total of 1,499 Alliance volunteers spent nearly 53,300 hours on Ice Age Trail-related activities; all while adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing safety protocols.
Some of the most geologically significant land on earth exists right here in Wisconsin; Langlade County to be exact.
It’s an area where moraines once collided, resulting in amazing glaciation and hummocky terrain. It would be a hiker’s dream to traverse. But right now, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail currently runs along roads. With your help, this will change.
Despite the sweltering heat and violent weather, two new Ice Age National Scenic Trail sections are open after a five-day Mobile Skills Crew Reconnect event. The efforts of 86 volunteers, donating 1,852 service hours, created a new path through Mammoth’s Back Preserve and more off-road hiking along the Valley View Segment. Each section is a work in progress and will require continued restoration. But, it is hard to overstate the value of three newly opened miles of Ice Age Trail in Dane County.
By Justine Kapitzke, AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Support Specialist
Riley knew from the start that she would be the perfect addition to the Ice Age Trail Alliance team. To be exact, when she read that we were looking for someone with office experience who is also comfortable sleeping in the woods overnight, her reaction was, “Yeah! That’s me!”
Growing up on a campground outside of Pardeeville, WI, Riley spent much of her childhood exploring the marshes and woodlands surrounding the campground. She has lived in other states but feels a special connection to Wisconsin. As she noted, “I didn’t find that attachment to the land anywhere else.”
Perfect weather, minimal bugs, and a fantastic crew, made for quick work as the bridge over Sailor Creek rose from the mud like a lotus. The squelching of boots through curmudgeonly swamp accompanied the din of hammers, saws, and drills, as 20 volunteers came together to complete the 178-foot-long Forest Service structure. In just over three days, the Jerry Lake Project totaled over 500 service hours! “Big Spider Bridge” will allow for the safe crossing of Sailor Creek for the next half century.
The staff and board of the Ice Age Trail Alliance are thrilled to welcome Melissa Pierick, our new Director of Marketing and Community Relations!
Melissa will work closely with staff in the Trail, Lands, and Philanthropy programs to improve specific program and cross-program advancement through marketing and outreach. She will implement short- and long-range initiatives associated with the strategic plan and other operational goals, especially those which maximize the Alliance’s profile, reputation, and image.
The members of the Communications staff peppered Melissa with a few questions, excited to learn more about her:
What excites you most about your new role?
I am very excited to have the opportunity to help spread the word about this amazing National Scenic Trail that we are SO lucky to have in Wisconsin. I believe every resident in Wisconsin should know about it—even if they’re not hikers.
By Dan Watson, Volunteer Coordinator, National Park Service – Ice Age National Scenic Trail
The Ice Age Trail Alliance won the National Park Service George and Helen Hartzog award for the Midwest Region – Volunteer Group Award out of 21 outstanding nominations submitted in recognition of 2020 efforts.
Project Wingspan, a conservation project with Pollinator Partnership, is looking for volunteers who are interested in collecting native seed in their areas to contribute to biodiversity for pollinators. This landscape-scale project expands from Wisconsin into Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Arkansas. Continue reading →