One-inch wing-span. Brilliant blue on top. Orange dots under wings. Size of a nickel.
This description is of a rather rare insect that resides in central Wisconsin – the Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis). Its existence is so threatened it was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1992.
Its tiny size makes it easy to miss as it flits between grasses and wildflowers, and because it doesn’t attract a lot of attention, it’s disappearance from our Midwest landscape might not seem like such a big deal. Yet, each and every species, like the Karner blue butterfly, plays a valuable ecological role in nature. Each loss destabilizes this fragile balance. As the folks at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service point out, “experience has proven that many plants and animals have properties which will prove beneficial to humans as sources of food and medicine. With the loss of each species, we lose a potential resource for improving the quality of life for all humanity.”
By Christi Lee Ehler, Volunteer Writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
“The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is where ecology meets people’s experience,” says Kevin Thusius, the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s (IATA) Director of Land Conservation. Managing Ice Age Trail lands for plant and wildlife habitat and managing them for aesthetics go hand-in-hand, because the more biodiverse a landscape is, the more it contains what people go into nature to see, hear, and feel.
A growing number of people, it seems, are particularly drawn to places where they might witness evidence of our ability to repair past environmental damage and create a healthier future for the earth. Ice Age Trail (IAT) segments where there are ongoing, large-scale efforts to rebuild ecological diversity are becoming some of the Trail’s most popular hikes.
It’s a pleasant surprise to find small, dainty wildflowers peeking up through rough, brown leaves scattered across the forest floor. Such delicate beauty after a stark, frozen winter. Their emergence is a less a lesson about timing and patience, than it is of hardiness. They barely wait for a thawing earth before they surface and each year, it seems, their hardiness is tested as they endure one last snowy lashing of winter.
As you turn your face to the sun and head out on a hike, be on the look out for these woodland beauties:
The weather is perfect: sunshine, a light breeze, blue sky. It’s ideal hiking conditions. However, our nation is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. What’s a responsible hiker and Ice Age Trail enthusiast to do?
Help Flatten the Curve:
Stay Local. Limit travel to within your community (or county). If you do not live near an Ice Age Trail segment, please enjoy your local county or city parks, or your own back yard.
Let Go. Set aside your Thousand-Miler goal, whether it was to section-hike segments, or to begin a long-distance, multi-day thru-hike.
Reopening does NOT extend to restrooms, campsites, towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations, and concession buildings. These facilities remain closed until May 26, 2020. Continue reading →
We are honored and excited to announce that we have 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!
Please note, voting is based on location and the Ice Age Trail Alliance is being featured in the Madison/Southern WI market which means Fitchburg, Janesville, Lake Geneva, Madison, Pleasant Prairie, Racine, and Sun Prairie. However, if you live outside these urban areas, you can select one of these stores to be your Target store at which point, the Ice Age Trail Alliance becomes one of your voting options.
We’re asking our supporters, especially those of you who live in the urban areas listed above, to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission to create, support, and protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
The term “forest bathing” may bring up some odd images and a few questions, but in Japan, forest bathing, called “Shinrin-yoku” in Japanese, is a leisurely visit to a forest. Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So Shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. The aim of forest bathing is to slow down and let ourselves become immersed in the natural environment around us. Continue reading →
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
~John Muir, environmentalist and author of Our National Parks, 1901
Mountains are hard to come by in Wisconsin. Yet, we have the excellent fortune of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail wending its way through the state. The Ice Age Trail provides us with the necessary wildness and opportunity to come home. A vigorous hike or leisurely walk on a favorite segment of this thousand-mile footpath lets us, the “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized,” reacquaint ourselves with a vital source of well-being, nature. Continue reading →
Updated 3/26/2020 in light of the Safer-At-Home order [PDF] issued by Governor Evers on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s highest priority is the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and hiking community during the rapidly evolving health concern of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Continue reading →
A glowing moon suspended, a jewel in the sky. A shadowy landscape illuminated in pale light. With the rustle of grasses and wakeful, nocturnal creatures, full moon hikes offer a unique perspective of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
For the fourth year running, we plan to torch eastern red cedar and other undesirable woody plants to restore a wonderful remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Already, many pockets of native prairie species are thriving where trees have been removed and seeds are exposed to sunlight. With every push to restore native prairie we also push to revitalize the beautiful views of Wisconsin’s unique topography and waterways.
This special Leap Day event is a twice-in-a-decade type of experience, don’t miss out! Continue reading →
A father-daughter duo hike the Jerry Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Jessica Featherstone
We are humbled and inspired by the 500+ donors who helped us surpass our $50,000 Challenge Match. Your collective generosity ranged from $5 to $5,000 and came from 17 different states showing the impact the Ice Age National Scenic Trail has on communities close by and those far afield.
Your support inspires us, underpinning all we do, as we work to create, support, and protect the Ice Age Trail. We look forward to doing justice to your donations by improving the Trail, foot-by-foot and acre-by-acre. Continue reading →
The 2019 Mobile Skills Crew season came to-a-close with not one, but TWO, curtain calls! Crews fanned out between two project areas to stage the last act in the “Building for the 23rd Century” tour. Continue reading →
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.
It’s wildcard season with not one, but two wildcards! The main event will take place in Marathon County to continue work on the Ringle Segment. A second, smaller event will take place in Langlade County along the Summit Moraine Segment (formerly Old Railroad) to continue storm damage cleanup.
Help us end the “Building for the 23rd Century” tour on a high note by signing up for one (or both) of the events! Please register by Sunday, October 13th.