Ice Age Trail Alliance Receives Hartzog Volunteer Group Award

By Dan Watson, Volunteer Coordinator, National Park Service – Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance Headquarters in the Village of Cross Plains. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.
Ice Age Trail Alliance Headquarters in the Village of Cross Plains. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.
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.

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Help Our Precious Pollinators!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Land Stewardship, Lands Program
Blooming butterfly milkweed provides nourishment for a monarch caterpillar. Photo by Kelly S. Anklam.
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

Joining Forces to Improve Water Quality

By Luke Kloberdanz, Director of Philanthropy for the Ice Age Trail Alliance

When kindred spirits come together, it’s all smiles. Members of the Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation present a $25,000 check to Ice
Age Trail Alliance staff. Standing left to right in front of an enormous kettle of New Glarus Brewing Company brew is Ciaran O’Neill-Culhane, Eric Felt, Riley Miller, Mike Wollmer, Kari Haser, Luke Kloberdanz, and Drew Cochrane. Photo by Susan Moen.
When kindred spirits come together, it’s all smiles. Members of the Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation present a $25,000 check to Ice Age Trail Alliance staff. Standing left to right in front of an enormous kettle of New Glarus Brewing Company brew is Ciaran O’Neill-Culhane, Eric Felt, Riley Miller, Mike Wollmer, Kari Haser, Luke Kloberdanz, and Drew Cochrane. Photo by Susan Moen.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is proud to call Wisconsin home. The land, the people, and the Trail connecting these places and communities are core elements of our work. In recent years, the Alliance launched its Corporate Friends program, further advancing our mission to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The family is growing!

Recently, the Alliance joined in partnership with an iconic brand, New Glarus Brewing Company and its Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation. Established in 1993, the New Glarus Brewing Company’s philosophy is based on individuality, cooperation, and the employment of 100% natural ingredients to produce world-class, handcrafted beers. Like the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which meanders exclusively throughout the state, the New Glarus Brewing Company proudly claims their beers are brewed “Only in Wisconsin”.

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Trail Steward of the Year Award: Jerry Sazama

We Make a Life by What We Give

By Tricia Baker, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Trail Steward of the Year, Jerry Sazama
Jerry Sazama, 2021 Trail Steward of the Year, is in his element, leading the morning round-up at a Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
While we feel like explorers as we hike the Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail, it is important to remember the people whose footsteps we follow. The dedicated and inspiring volunteers of the Ice Age Trail Alliance make the Ice Age Trail the national gem that it is. Each year, we recognize our most esteemed volunteers. One award, the Trail Steward of the Year, recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contributions to Trail management and development.

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David Lonsdorf Receives Cherished Spirit Stick Award

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David Lonsdorf, a member of Dane County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, was awarded the Spirit Stick; one of the highest honors bestowed by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Spirit Stick award symbolizes long-term dedication and service to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and is presented to only one recipient per year. The Spirit Stick nominees must exhibit a passion for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that has become a way of life; lead by example and inspire those around them; and carry out their service in a spirit of cooperation, optimism, and enthusiasm.

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A One-Mile Section Becomes a Jewel

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding season
A newly built 311-foot-long boardwalk greets hikers as they emerge from the woods along the Montrose Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
After two days of sawdust-filled work preassembling frames and cutting deck boards, all hands were on deck to begin construction in the middle of the week. Over three days, despite challenging weather (Tuesday was cut short due to rain), 20 volunteers donated 351 hours of service to construct 311 feet of boardwalk and a 12-foot bridge. These structures offer easier passage for hikers across an area notorious for standing water and muddy conditions.

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Ice Age Trail Community Partnership Thrives in Slinger

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Slinger, Trail Community, Trail Community Celebration, Mammoth Hike Challenge, Monty, Monty the Mammoth
Monty the Mammoth and Hootie the Owl oversee the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new multi-use trail in October 2020. From left to right: Joe Fay, Slinger - Allenton Rotary; Monty the Mammoth - Ice Age Trail Alliance; Russ Brandt - Village of Slinger President Hootie the Owl Slinger School District Mascot; Wally Steger - Slinger Allenton Rotary. Photo courtesy of Village of Slinger.
In October 2020, the Ice Age Trail Community of Slinger opened a multi-use, community trail that hosts a new section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The multi-year effort to build the trail came about through strong partnerships and coordination between the Village, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA), and multiple landowners, businesses, and community organizations.

The new route of the Slinger Segment replaces a previous 0.7-mile road walk with a new 0.9-mile section of Ice Age Trail connecting the Slinger Segment to the Cedar Lakes Segment. The scenic trail corridor passes through Slinger’s Community Park and continues north along wetlands adjacent to Little Switzerland Ski Area. Continue reading

Highlighting the Glacial Beauty of the Blue Hills Region

Images worth a thousand words: Glacial rock and water formations are scattered throughout this beautiful landscape in Rusk County. Volunteers took in the sights while walking the land and planning how to best route future trail to highlight and preserve these features. Photos by Dave Caliebe.

Over four days, 19 individuals methodically explored more than six square miles of remote Rusk County. Building on the trail layout event last October, we continued to narrow down the locations for future Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Our group sought ways to connect significant geological features of the area and avoid wetlands and logging interaction where ever possible.

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Do-dos and Don’ts of Dog Poop

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Remember your baggies! Ice Age National Scenic Trail users should pack out ALL of their pet's dog poop while hiking, Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Dog waste is more than a nuisance to hikers on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: it also can cause water quality issues and negative health effects for humans and wildlife. For these reasons, Ice Age Trail users should plan to pack out all dog waste generated by their pet while hiking.

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Ready! Set! Plant!

An image of volunteers getting ready to plant trees. They line up before the area where the trees will be planted, holding red flags that will be used to mark newly planted trees. Pine trees tower above them in the background, before partially cloudy skies.
Volunteers line up, ready to plant trees that will eventually transform the old pine plantation at the Brownrigg-Heier Preserve into a sustainable hardwood forest. Photo by Amy Lord.
2021 is a year of new beginnings, new growth, and reconnecting. Our reforestation effort in Manitowoc County upholds this sense of hope for the year and beyond.

Beginning on Friday, April 30 – National Arbor Day – 60 volunteers came together to plant 5,500 young trees on the Ice Age Trail Alliance-owned Brownrigg-Heier Preserve. Volunteers (some coming from three hours away) donated 730 hours to help improve the earth in an effort extending beyond their lifetimes.

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Volunteers Upgrade Structures on the Waterville Segment

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding, Reconnect 2021
Members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter work together to deliver a boardwalk frame to the construction site. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Over three official days (and one unofficial), 31 volunteers donated 615 hours to build four structures totaling 450 feet. Ahead of the project, efforts by the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter generated momentum with pre-built boardwalk frames. The on-site crews, composed predominately of chapter members, maintained the pace with their skillful construction. They also remained undeterred by the fickle weather, which alternated between snow squalls and spring sunshine. Continue reading

AmeriCorps VISTA Member Joins the Alliance!

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Justine Kapitzke, VISTA, AmeriCorps, Spring, Headquarters, Cross Plains
Justine Kapitzke began her year of AmeriCorps VISTA service in April 2021. Photo by Elena Mederas.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is pleased to welcome Justine Kapitzke as the newest addition to the Alliance communications team! Kapitzke is joining the Alliance as an AmeriCorps VISTA member through Conservation Legacy’s Stewards Individual Placement Program.

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A Gift of the Trail: Finding Peace Within Myself

By Whitney Meckikalski, guest writer and new member
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Whitney and her canine companion, The Worst Dog Ever!, enjoy a sunny, winter hike on the Pike Lake Segment. Photo by Whitney Meckikalski.
Growing up and into my twenties, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail periodically made fleeting appearances on the periphery of my awareness. It was something I heard other people talk about – people who walked in different circles than me. They were people I didn’t understand or connect with, being outdoorsy, fit, and adventurous. They were the crunchy granola-types who made homemade deodorant. They seemed to have a crystal-clear idea about Life’s meaning.

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Volunteers Transform Slopes of Steenbock Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Steenbock Preserve, Gibraltar Rock Segment, MSC, 2021, Mobile Skills Crew, Volunteers, Land Stewardship
Dane County Chapter volunteer Tom Wise clears trees to help transform the hillside from an encroaching juniper forest into diverse oak and prairie habitat. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
For the fifth year running, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) came together with volunteers to continue restoration efforts on the Gibraltar Rock Segment. Under exhaustive conditions, crews worked to remove the invading juniper forest from the slopes of the Steenbock Preserve. Thanks to your efforts, biodiversity will be increased and nearly three acres of historic prairie can begin to heal and reclaim the landscape.

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Happy Anniversary, Kevin … 20 Years!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Director of Land Conservation, Kevin Thusius
In 2000, a young man applied for a position with the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation as its Eastern Field Coordinator based in West Bend. A two and a half hour interview ensued, and a day later, Kevin Thusius accepted the position. Within 24 hours, he was meeting with a landowner in Door County. That’s baptism by fire, but it was a productive meeting. It would eventually lead to a permanently protected corridor for the Ice Age Trail 12 years later! Talk about patience. Continue reading

We are hiring an AmeriCorps VISTA member!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, AmeriCorps VISTA, Stewards Individual Placement Program, Hiring
The Ice Age Trail Alliance believes the 1,200-mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a place where all people can enjoy and embrace the unique natural landscapes and cultural histories of Wisconsin, while finding physical and mental renewal in a peaceful setting, and an enduring spiritual connection to the land. In addition to the personal wellness and motivation one finds on the Trail, the broader community benefits from this resource. Indeed, the characteristics of the Trail are the same forces which create a variety of economic development streams communities may capitalize upon.

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IATA Preserves Benefit from Knowles-Nelson Funding

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Liebetrau Prairie, Table Bluff Segment, Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund
The Liebetrau Prairie in full bloom along the Table Bluff Segment. It's a view courtesy of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Photo by Gary Hegeman.
Strung like pearls along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail’s winding route are both beautiful and geologically significant properties owned by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Take, for example, the Marimor Preserve, in Taylor County, known for hosting one of the state’s finest examples of a terminal moraine. Another is the Moraine-Outwash Preserve in Langlade County – it offers spectacular views across the Antigo Flats and illustrates its name-sake glacial feature. And then, the Muir Preserve, in Marquette County, which protects the area surrounding John Muir’s boyhood homestead, allowing Wisconsinites better to appreciate the land’s hold and influence on Muir.

Another commonality among these properties? The Alliance purchased them using matching grant funds awarded from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

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We’ve Partnered with Target Circle

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We are excited to announce that the Ice Age Trail Alliance has been chosen to participate in a special charitable giving campaign, sponsored and funded by Target. And you have the chance to help direct a portion of Target’s donation to us!

Each purchase you make at Target, online or at a store – provided you’ve signed up for the Target Circle program – earns you the opportunity to vote. You can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Thank you for your support, and we encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!

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The History We Make: From Newbie to Thousand-Miler

By Lou Ann Novak, Guest Writer and Thousand-Miler
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Thousand-Miler Journal, Thousand Miler, Thru-hike
Lou Ann Novak, clearly in her happy place, while on her journey towards becoming a Thousand-Miler. Photo by Lou Ann Novak.
My Ice Age National Scenic Trail experience began in April 2016. I knew nothing about the Ice Age Trail then. I had seen the yellow blazes, but didn’t know what they meant. One day out of curiosity, I searched for ‘Ice Age Trail’ on the Internet.

From the first, I was amazed at how each step seemed to leave the urban world behind. I thought how pleasant it would be to explore a few segments, but I really wasn’t hooked (yet). I bought the IAT Guidebook and Atlas. I enjoyed the mental exercise of planning my hikes. I would review the Guidebook and then map out my route. Since I was a solo hiker, I parked the car, biked one way on public roads and then walked the Trail back to my car.

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Volunteers Ensure Successful 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Stone Steps, Trailbuilding, Volunteers
Volunteers spent 7,727 hours building and improving segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this trailbuilding season, including these beautifully crafted stone steps on the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
In an especially trying year, we learned how valuable the work we perform is as countless people discovered adventure near home. Parking lots filled and overflowed. Quiet, little known segments awoke with the footsteps and chatter of newly initiated hikers.

In May, after an unsettling absence, volunteers reconnected with the Ice Age Trail. Your skills and efforts were needed – and appreciated – more than ever. With our productive start to the year in the rearview mirror, we regrouped and accomplished quite a bit – and did it safely. Thank you for everything you did this year, and in the previous decades, to create one of the Midwest’s best hiking trails.

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Bob & Victoria Connors Push to ‘Close the Gaps’ of the Ice Age Trail

By Sevie Kenyon, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Vista, Burr Oak, Oak, Wetland
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through private, state-owned, and Alliance-owned lands. Donations to funds like the Bob & Victoria Land Resource Fund offer the resources needed for the Alliance to acquire and protect land to host the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Nick Lane.

The Connors Family has a strong commitment to “close the gaps” in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The purpose of the Robert & Victoria Land Resource Fund is to facilitate land acquisition by the Alliance to host and permanently protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The fund offers the resources needed to act quickly when land protection opportunities arise.

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Ice Age Trail Alliance Entrusted with Swamplovers Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Swamplovers Preserve, Table Bluff, Wetlands, Vista
The diverse Swamplovers Preserve includes wetland, prairie, and oak savannah habitat, which host a variety of resident and migratory wildlife. The Preserve was recently transferred to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Photo by Kevin Thusius.
On November 24, 2020, the ownership and management responsibilities of the Swamplovers Preserve, a 433-acre property perched on the rolling hills of southwestern Dane County, transferred from the Swamplovers Foundation to the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

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Support the Trail Through Online Shopping!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Gibraltar Rock Segment, Santa, Santa Claus, Winter, Holidays
You're not the only one who loves the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: Santa enjoys a hike or two as well! Consider supporting the Ice Age Trail while online shopping this holiday season and help protect the places you love.

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.

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Spend Your Thanksgiving Holiday on the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Hiker, Fog, Mammoth Hike Challenge, Fall, October
Looking for an alternative to large gatherings and Black Friday shopping this Thanksgiving holiday? How about a stroll on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail! Photo by Joshua Fager.
With many Thanksgiving and Black Friday plans canceled, you may be looking for safe and family-friendly alternatives to gatherings. When making your holiday plans, consider taking a walk on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It may be the perfect place to slow down, find internal peace, and gain clarity during the season of gratitude.

However, the Thanksgiving holiday also takes place in the heart of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have 13 hikes to share with you where deer hunting is not allowed. All of the following suggested hikes take place in or near Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.

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Alliance Headquarters and the Dane County COVID-19 Order #10

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The Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters is located in Cross Plains, WI along the Cross Plains Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Our Primary Concern: The Health and Safety of Guests, Volunteers, and Staff!

Updated 12/17/2020

Due to the impact of Dane County COVID-19 Order #10, staffing at the Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters is limited. As such, our headquarters will be CLOSED to the public until further notice.

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