Coronavirus/COVID-19 and the Ice Age Trail

A hiker admires an early spring bloomer along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
A hiker admires an early spring bloomer along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

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.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) has been carefully monitoring the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and is using information provided by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to inform and develop policies to protect our wider Ice Age Trail community and help prevent the spread of the virus.

We will continue to evaluate the facts and context surrounding the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and make changes as appropriate to prioritize health and safety. However, effective March 16, 2020 and likely to continue through May 1, 2020, we’re offering the following guidance, as a way to support our staff, volunteers, and our hiking community.

1. For All of Us: Help Stop the Spread!

•  If you are sick with any illness stay home. If you have a confirmed case of Coronavirus/COVID-19 and have had contact with others in our community (staff and volunteers), please notify us at [email protected].

•  Limit your exposure to members of your immediate household. Shrinking your circle of interactions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gathering in groups of 10 people is no longer recommended.

•  Practice good personal hygiene. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Wash hands after touching common surfaces. Avoid shaking hands, directly touching others, and maintain a six-foot distance.

2. Guidance for Chapters and Volunteers

• The reality is that many of our most dedicated and involved volunteers are among the most vulnerable when it comes to effects of the Coronavirus/COVID-19; please exercise caution as outlined below.

• In adherence to the Safer-At-Home order issued by Governor Evers, the National Park Service and Ice Age Trail Alliance [PDF] are directing all Ice Age National Scenic Trail volunteers to cease all volunteer activities that cannot be performed within the guidelines of Emergency Order #12. In short, do not continue performing your volunteer activities, including outdoor volunteer services, until further notice.

• In adherence of the Safer-At-Home order, we urge our chapters and volunteers to postpone or cancel events. This includes, but is not limited to, trail improvement days (or trail work days), group hikes, and meetings through May 1, 2020. Really, no event is too small or too important not to cancel.

• The only exception to this would be volunteer service that can be accomplished individually, at home, that conforms to Emergency Order #12 guidance for all Wisconsin citizens. Such activities may include working on your chapter newsletter, self-study of Trail Safe! video training, or any other stay-at-home volunteer activity within Emergency Order #12 guidance.

• Please contact Brad Crary ([email protected]) to cancel or update your chapter’s events scheduled through May 1, 2020.

• We strongly urge our Trail Angels to suspend the offer of shuttles and home stays through May 1, 2020.

3. Staff Schedules and Availability to the Public

• The Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters in Cross Plains is closed to the walk-in public.

• Hiker resources are available on our website, our Hiker Resource Map and through our store where the latest edition of the Ice Age Trail Guidebook, Atlas, and Databook can be purchased. Maps of Ice Age Trail segments in the Cross Plains area can be found in the kiosk located outside our building.

• We have cancelled our staff travel and event attendance.

• IATA staff is working from home. However, we will continue to be responsive to chapter leaders, volunteers, and our hiking enthusiasts via email, phone, and social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). View a staff list here or here (scroll to bottom of page).

• The main office phone number at the IATA headquarters will be monitored along with our general email account: 608-798-4453, ext. 229; [email protected].

4. Updated IATA Calendar of Events

•  Annual Conference and Membership Meeting: Our conference (April 23 – April 26) is cancelled. If you’ve already registered you’ll receive instructions regarding next steps. Conference registration fees will be refunded. However, if you’d like to kindly offer the already-paid-fees as a donation to off-set the challenges of a tough time, we’ll graciously accept. Please don’t forget to cancel your hotel room reservations.

•  Trailtessa: Our Be STRONG Trailtessa Retreat (May 9) is cancelled.

•  ThinkOutside: All activities related to this initiative are suspended until May 1st (and possibly beyond). Stay tuned for updates. Please email [email protected] with questions.

•  Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) events:  Due to the concern for the health of volunteers and staff, and funding uncertainty, we are scaling back our Trailbuilding calendar. This schedule is subject to further updates as more guidance is provided. Our priority is to keep everyone safe. You may view the updated schedule of events here.

•  Chapter events: Please check the IATA website calendar for updated information regarding postponement or cancellation. (Check back for updates by end of day March 17th.)

5. Considerations for Trail Use and Our Hiker Community (Day Hikers and Long-Distance, Multi-Day Hikers)

•  The Ice Age National Scenic Trail remains open! We encourage healthy, symptom-free hiking on the Ice Age Trail, but to avoid popular locations known for heavy use. We suggest you practice social distancing at trailheads and along the Trail, especially at scenic overlooks and campgrounds.

Please see our current position regarding Hiking Responsibly on the Ice Age Trail During a COVID-19 Pandemic.

Thank you for your support and patience.

We believe these practical measures and looking out for one another will keep our Ice Age Trail community healthy. In this time of social distancing, we’re going to crave the health benefits offered by nature more than ever and luckily, the Ice Age Trail was built for times like these.

We, the IATA, is working with our Federal Agency partners and other National Trail organizations to share best practices and may offer updates over the coming weeks.

Please reach out to me with your questions.

Stay healthy. Enjoy the Trail.

 

 

Mike Wollmer
Executive Director
[email protected]
608-798-4453, ext. 222