Dismayed by Proposal to Cut Stewardship Funding

Photo by Dave Caliebe

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is at risk.  It is the number one source of funding for land purchases that protect and expand the Ice Age Trail.  Funding from this program, in 2016, extended the Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest in Sheboygan County, as well as, in the Straight Lake State Park in Polk County.

Please call your representatives TODAY. Assembly Bill 338 (AB338) has been introduced and it could be voted on any day now.  Please urge your Assembly representative not to vote for AB338.

Talking Points for Your Call: Continue reading

Chillin’ On The Trail: A “Walk” of Art

Ice Age Trail Trail Community Designation Party

“A Trail of Glass” – an Ice Age Trail themed fused glass piece featured at the Lake Country Fine Arts School and Gallery

“Art is a harmony parallel with nature.”

~ Paul Cezanne, French artist and Post-Impressionist painter

For those lucky souls who live in an Ice Age Trail Community, adventure is often mere steps away as the Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through town, perhaps, only blocks from their front door.

Gorgeous, natural beauty is easily accessible.  The Trail takes those who love to hike, walk, or stroll to some of the best glacial features in the world.  This 1,000-mile footpath follows the contours created by the last colossal glacier when it retreated some 12,000 years ago. Continue reading

Duff Bucket Challenge

“Mug Shot” – Lakeshore Chapter Volunteers

One of the most-used tools along the Ice Age Trail is the underappreciated duff bucket. It’s used to haul away dirt and duff, transporting signage supplies and, perhaps, it’s most infamous use, as a seat during well-deserved breaks.

To keep the buckets employed over the winter, we came up with another use – collecting pocket change. Duff buckets are easy to fill when working on the Trail, let’s fill them with quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies – even paper money works!

We’re collecting change to make a change on the Ice Age Trail. To help you join the cause, we will send you an Ice Age Trail mug to fill. We’ll be collecting mugs full of change during the Annual Conference in Rothschild, April 7 – 10. If you can’t join us for the Conference, please hand off your mug to a chapter member that is attending or bring it to the office in Cross Plains. Your contribution will help us fill a duff bucket, or two, or…

For a little fun, we’re encouraging people to take their “Mug Shot.” Take a picture of your progress! Post it on Facebook and challenge your friends. Take it out on the Trail for a few pics and laughs.

How many can we fill? We’re hoping to need a bucket brigade to move all the duff buckets full of change! We’ll pack along the grip hoist just in case.

If you would like to participate in the Challenge, we’ll send you a mug “on the house.” Send a request to brad@iceagetrail.org or call the office at 608-798-4453.

 

Congress Passes Permanent Extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover

As of last week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed a permanent extension of the IRA charitable rollover, and President Obama has signed the bill into law.

This provision, which had expired at the end of 2014, will now be effective retroactive to January 1, 2015. Unlike prior years, the provision is no longer scheduled to expire. Donors age 70½ and older may transfer up to $100,000 from their IRA to a qualified public charity. The transfer will be made free of federal income tax and the gift qualifies for the donor’s 2015 required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year. Many people have been waiting for passage of this law before acting on 2015 IRA distributions. If you wish to direct an IRA distribution to charity, contact your custodian soon, as it can take some time for these distributions to be processed.

To make an IRA rollover gift to the Ice Age Trail Alliance contact your custodian and request that an amount be transferred directly to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Your gift can be cash or stock in any amount up to $100,000.

If you are gifting cash, direct your custodian to make your gift to:
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Inc.
PO Box 128 Cross Plains, WI 53528
Federal Tax ID # 39 – 6076028

If you are gifting stock, direct your custodian to transfer your stock to our account at:
Robert W. Baird & Co
c/o Dan Gundrum, 414-765-1465
IATA Account # 4464-2597
DTC # 0547

When you make an IRA gift to the IATA, please email or call us and let us know.

We’ll need your name, address, and phone number so we can properly thank you when your gift arrives:
mike@iceagetrail.org
608-798-4453 x-22

Raise your voice…support land acquisition funding

IMG_0308.landscape

Your help is needed to protect future segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Recently, Ice Age Trail supporters successfully advocated for the Wisconsin state legislature to continue Stewardship Program funding for the Ice Age Trail.

Today, we ask you to do the same for federal funding.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has recently expired. For the past 50 years, LWCF funds — collected from off-shore oil and gas royalties — have protected land in every state, supporting more than 41,000 state and local park projects. Closer to home, LWCF funds have helped protect more than 50 Ice Age Trail properties, including portions of the popular Devil’s Lake and St. Croix Falls segments.

LWCF must be permanently reauthorized and fully funded before the end of the current legislative session, which means it must be included in the FY 2016 Appropriations package.

Our request is simple: Please ask your representative to urge House Speaker Paul Ryan to include LWCF re-authorization in the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Thank you for your support of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Hunting Season and Hiking the Ice Age Trail

A woman and her dog wear blaze orange on the Ice Age Trail in fall.

Photo by Paulette Walker Smith

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.

Visit our Hiking During Hunting Seasons page to get a full breakdown of all the things to consider. Here are the main things you’ll want to remember: Continue reading

We hit a bump in the Trail

In case you missed it, the recently passed Wisconsin state budget threatens the Alliance’s work on the Ice Age Trail. The $74,000 capacity grant that we have applied for and received each year for more than 15 years will no longer be available. This grant was a reliable source of support for our efforts, and we are unwilling to lower our commitment to 2,300+ volunteers and 1.25 million trail users.

Consider a few things you can do to keep the Ice Age Trail moving forward and help fill the $74,000 budget gap:

Now is the time to support the Ice Age Trail

Updated April 16, 2015

The threat

We introduced in a previous post the severe impact the governor’s proposed state budget would have on protection for and development of the Ice Age Trail. Since then, we have learned more about the proposed budget and further negative impacts it would have on the Trail if the budget does not change.

The major hit would come from a 13-year freeze on land acquisition funding through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, affecting both direct acquisition by the state and grants to the Alliance. This would limit the collective effort of the DNR and the Alliance to protect land for the Ice Age Trail.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has had a significant role in making protection of the Trail possible:

  • Since 2000, the Stewardship Program has helped fund more than 150 acquisitions for the Trail, which now permanently protect more than 85 miles of Trail on 14,000 acres.
  • The Ice Age Trail Alliance has used Stewardship Program 55 times to protect more than 3,300 acres to make the Ice Age Trail more contiguous. Each one of these 55 Stewardship purchases by the Alliance was leveraged with private, county or other funds.
  • The DNR has acquired Ice Age Trail rights on more than 100 properties for the Trail over time – nearly all of these used the Stewardship Program.
  • Since 2000, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and our partners at the National Park Service have successfully leveraged more than $14 million from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund – funds that would have gone elsewhere in the country if not used in Wisconsin with matching Stewardship funds.
  • If you’ve contacted your legislators, you may have heard that bonding is not an acceptable use of the state’s (DNR’s) budget. However, bonding for the Stewardship Program is less than 3% of the state’s total revenue collected. The overall investment in Stewardship over three decades (1990-2020) would be less than what is proposed for transportation over the next two years.
  • For some perspective here, bonding for the Stewardship fund costs 30 cents per person per week, an annual cost that’s less than an annual fishing license or state park pass. Just like most of us take out a mortgage to acquire a home and pay it off while it appreciates, the same goes for acquiring land. Land will not be any cheaper in the future, and everyone is able to use the land now and forever. Interest rates are also incredibly low at this time – it’s a good time to buy.

The further threat comes from the elimination of state funding to support the Ice Age Trail, which has directly benefited the Trail for nearly 20 years. Its elimination would inhibit the Alliance’s ability to maintain and support the 650 miles of existing Trail that more than a million people enjoy each year.

The state’s historically reliable funding source has contributed to the success of the Ice Age Trail and Ice Age Trail Alliance:

  • Since 1997, we have received funding through the DNR budget to help the state promote, develop and maintain the Ice Age Trail – the only state scenic trail.
  • These funds are money well spent as annually they have been leveraged with nearly 80,000 volunteer hours, more than $500,000 in private donations, and as much as $400,000 in federal support. 80,000 volunteer hours, coupled with the equivalent of 9 full-time staff working for the Alliance, equates to 48 full-time employees working on behalf of the state.
  • It will be nearly impossible to make up with private donations the loss in funding from the elimination of state funding to support the Trail. Despite the Alliance’s long record of success, we would have to start evaluating which of our important programs we can retain.

These cuts would severely impact current and future development of the Ice Age Trail. We need your action to help make the dream of a thousand-mile footpath a reality.

What can you do?

Contact your local representatives and ask them to support the Ice Age Trail by saving the Stewardship Program. Tell them that the Ice Age Trail is important to you, your family, your community and the state of Wisconsin.

Along with the talking points above, we’ve developed the following to help you shape your message:

  • The Ice Age Trail is a local resource. More than 3.4 million Wisconsinites live within a one-hour drive of the Ice Age Trail, and 18 million Americans live within a two-hour drive.
  • The Ice Age Trail is an important component of our state’s economy. According to a 2012 study, an estimated 1.25 million people use the Ice Age Trail each year. Trail users contribute $113 million to the local and state economy annually.
  • The Ice Age Trail is an economic resource. In Wisconsin, outdoor recreation generates $11.9 billion in consumer spending; 142,000 direct Wisconsin jobs equaling $3.6 billion in wages and salaries; and $844 million in state and local tax revenue.

Though these talking points will help you support your message, don’t be afraid to tell your representatives about your personal story. Your experience is important and makes the best impression.

What’s next?

The legislative fiscal bureau has released their report on the Stewardship Program. The Joint Finance Committee is now debating the budget, including the Stewardship Program.

It is vital that your representatives hear from you. Ask them to support the Ice Age Trail and the Stewardship Program and to share their support with their colleagues who are on the Joint Finance Committee. Please consider sharing with us any responses you receive.

If you have not already done so, sign up for our Advocacy Alerts. We will provide periodic updates and may request additional assistance, asking those of you who sign up to take additional steps, such as meeting with your legislators.

 

Threats to the Ice Age Trail

You probably heard the recent news regarding the proposed Wisconsin state budget and freeze on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Land protection and state funding for the Trail could be at a standstill. The future of the Ice Age Trail is threatened.

Read links for background information:

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program makes significant land protection possible on the Ice Age Trail. Since 1991, the Ice Age Trail Alliance has used the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program 55 times to protect more than 3,300 acres for the Ice Age Trail. Each one of these Stewardship purchases was leveraged with private, county or other funds. Also, the DNR has acquired Ice Age Trail rights on more than 100 properties using Stewardship funds. The importance of the Stewardship Program to the Ice Age Trail cannot be overstated.

St. Croix Falls Segment_Polk County_IATA

In August 2014, Mobile Skills Crew volunteers constructed 2.4 miles of new Ice Age Trail on the St. Croix Falls Segment in Polk County. Protection of the Trail was made possible by the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. [Photo by Dave Caliebe]

The Stewardship program contributes to the 650 miles of Trail open for your use. With approximately 500 miles of future Ice Age Trail left to protect, the Trail needs you today.

Please contact your state legislators. Share with them why the Ice Age Trail is important to you and that the Stewardship Program is important for the Trail.

Will you continue to be an advocate for the Ice Age Trail? Sign up today to receive advocacy alerts.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance continues to examine the details of the proposed budget. Working with conservation partners around the state, we will strategize over the next few weeks how to best mitigate this threat to the future of the Ice Age Trail. You will hear from us!