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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Historic House Vote Secures Funds for Public Lands

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Table Bluff Segment, Dane County
The Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers a stunning example of a restored native prairie. Prairie restoration on Table Bluff has been funded in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Photo by Paul Eastwood.

The U.S. House of Representatives took a historic vote on July 22 when it approved the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will invest in priority repairs at National Park Service (NPS) sites in Wisconsin and across the country. From the Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, needed repairs in Wisconsin’s NPS sites total $21.9 million, just part of the multi-billion maintenance backlog threatening park resources and local economies.

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Support the Great American Outdoors Act!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mammoth Steps, Mammoth Steps 2020, Devil's Lake Segment
Wisconsinites enjoy access to public lands across the state, including along the Devil's Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Hikers approach the east bluff of Devil's Lake from the south by traveling through Roznos Meadow. Photo by Megan Diermeier.

The historic Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was passed by the senate earlier this year, and it will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this Wednesday, July 22.

Please reach out to your state representatives to support the

Great American Outdoors Act!

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Status of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

A father and his sons enjoy an outing along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This segment, like many others benefited from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program funding. Photo by Nikki Gamble.

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted on the future of the Stewardship Program on Tuesday, June 11th.They adopted Governor Evers’ position of a two-year extension of the program at current funding levels, 33 million each year.

We’re disappointed by this outcome (we were hoping for 10 years reauthorization). However, we recognize the vote could have also cut or eliminated funding, altogether. Continue reading

Make a Difference for the Ice Age Trail!

A father and his sons enjoy a day out on the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Nikki Gamble.

Help Protect More Ice Age Trail!

If you have a favorite segment along the Trail, there’s a good chance Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program funding played a crucial role in its existence.

Time is of the Essence!

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is debating the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program THIS week – June 10th.

Please EMAIL or even better, CALL your elected officials. Remind them how important Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is to the future of Wisconsin. Ask them to call members of the JFC and emphasize how important the Stewardship fund is to their constituents.

With all of us speaking up together, we’ll deliver our message loud and clear: Renew the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for 10 years at the current funding level of $33 million dollars a year. Continue reading

Help Protect More Ice Age Trail

Do you enjoy your hikes along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail as it ambles through woods and prairies?

Do you wish for more contiguous Ice Age Trail and fewer road walks?

Then ask your State legislators to support the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

  • If you have a favorite segment along the Trail, there’s a good chance Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funding played a crucial role in its existence.
  • The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a vital source of funding for the Ice Age Trail. Each of the 66 Stewardship purchases by the Ice Age Trail Alliance was leveraged with private, county or other funds, well over $20M since 2000.
  •  Additionally, the DNR has acquired Ice Age Trail rights on more than 100 properties (87 miles) for the Trail over time – nearly all of these used the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

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President Signs Bill Permanently Reauthorizing LWCF

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Advocacy, Save LWCF, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Table Bluff SegmentIn an historic victory for public lands and close-to-home recreation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was permanently reauthorized yesterday, March 12, 2019, as part of a sweeping public lands package signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

The legislation, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House (363-62) and the Senate (92-8) last month, was signed yesterday during a ceremony that included LWCF champions. The culmination of a year’s-long effort by Congressional champions on both sides of the aisle and by stakeholders across the country to preserve the unique character of this program. Continue reading

Motorized Vehicles on the Ice Age Trail?

If you’re NOT a fan of this idea then help the Wisconsin DNR shape their plans!

Otherwise, Ice Age Trail users, like you, will frequently encounter bikes, ATVs and other less-compatible forms of recreation while out and about in your favorite outdoor natural area, park, or trail.

Though there are plenty of places where these motorized uses may occur on state lands, certain properties should be held for quiet recreation, such as trail hiking. 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:
608-798-4453 x-22

Raise your voice…support land acquisition funding


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.

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.