Your Incredible Support Leads to Match Increase

Mueller Lake 600x400
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.

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The Reimagined Ringle Segment is almost a Reality!

The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
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.

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Ice Age Trail Alliance Receives Prestigious National Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

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.

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Protect Langlade’s Glacial Landscape!

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.

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Three New Miles of Trail in Dane County!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Mammoth's Back Preserve, Valley View Segment, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew Events 2021
A crew of swampers pile brush in an effort to clear the corridor for a new section of Ice Age Trail along the Cross Plains Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
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.

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The Alliance Welcomes a New Trail Program Intern

By Justine Kapitzke, AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Trail Program, Trail Intern, Intern, Riley Dupee
Trail Program Intern, Riley Dupee, poses outside of the Ice Age Trail Alliance office in Cross Plains. Photo by IATA Staff.
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.”

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A New Bridge Spans Sailor Creek!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Sailor Creek Bridge, US Forest Service, Jerry Lake Segment
Volunteers cart soon-to-be repurposed deck boards to another location. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
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.

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Meet Melissa Pierick

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Melissa Pierick, Director of Marketing and Community Relations
Melissa Pierick, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

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.

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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

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Spirit Stick Award, Dave Lonsdorf, David Lonsdorf, Dane County Chapter
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

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Dog Poop, Dog Poop Bag, Dog, Trail Etiquette, Leave No Trace
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
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Membership, New Member, Whitney Meckikalski, Pike Lake Segment, Dog
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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