Photo Credit: Katie Weber

Habitat Management

Permanent protection of the Ice Age Trail also involves the responsible management of land that we own or on which we hold easements.


As of 2020, the Ice Age Trail Alliance manages over 4,000 acres.

Monitoring and Managing the Land

As an accredited land trust, the Ice Age Trail Alliance is responsible for managing and monitoring the land we own, or for which we hold permanent easements.

This includes activities such as:

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Improving the Hiker Experience

Land management includes working with the Trails program and leaders of volunteer chapters to build new Ice Age Trail, parking areas, dispersed camping areas (DCAs), and loop trails.

The clearing in the above photo is one of our 19 DCAs created along the Ice Age Trail.

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Managing Invasive Species

Buckthorn, cedar trees, and garlic mustard are among the invasive species which offer volunteers plenty of opportunity to roll up their sleeves and wield loppers and handsaws. On-going efforts by chapter-led Trail Improvement Days reign in the spread of invasive species and maintain the natural beauty of Trail corridor.

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Monitoring Property Easements

Permanent easements (a legal right to use another’s land for a specific limited purpose, like Ice Age Trail corridor) and handshake agreements, informal easements, are two key ways the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is able to wind its way through Wisconsin. Each year trained and dedicated volunteers check the property where easements exist to insure both parties are living up to their agreements.

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Marking Property Boundaries

Most people want to do the right thing. A carefully marked property boundary helps. Since the Ice Age Trail depends on good relationships with trail hosts and areas landowners, it is incumbent that the Ice Age Trail Alliance be good stewards of the land and good neighbors too. The Alliance manages approximately 120 property interests encompassing nearly 4,000 acres around the state. We mark the boundaries of all properties we own, and even on a few easements.

For more information about how the IATA marks property boundaries can be found here [PDF].

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Restoring Native Landscapes

During the summer and fall months, volunteer crews work to clear the Trail corridor of invasive species. During the winter, it is a good time to burn the piles of accumulated brush. Here, along the IATA owned Steenbock Preserve, the Lodi Valley Chapter has been actively removing invasive cedar trees in an effort to restore the prairie that once existed. In a few years, native grasses and flowers will flourish and an impressive view of Lake Wisconsin spread out in the river valley below will be part of the hiker experience.

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Litter Free Properties

We actively encourage hikers to practice Leave No Trace principles while hiking and camping. These guidelines help decrease the damaging impact we have on the land so everyone may enjoy the Ice Age National Scenic Trail at its best.

Leave No Trace ethic:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

Photo courtesy of

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Hunting and the IAT

Many public and private lands along the Ice Age Trail are open to hunting during a variety of hunting seasons. Here is a Public Access Lands map (loads slowly) produced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help you determine where you may hunt or encounter hunting.

Hikers should keep in mind hunting season dates and what to wear when out and about on the Trail, especially during the nine-day gun deer-hunting season in late November.

To find out if hunting is allowed on IATA owned properties, please view our  Ice Age Trail Alliance Properties & Hunting Regulations map.

Land Management Success Stories!

Land restoration involves the removal of invasive species along the Trail corridor and actively casting seeds for native prairie plants. This creates beneficial habitat for endangered species like Monarch and Karner Blue butterflies. It also improves the hiker experience by enhancing the Trail’s natural beauty.

Much of the work done is achieved through collaboration with chapter members and land owners.

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A restored remnant prairie graces the Moraine Kettles Preserve, owned and managed by the IATA. It is permanently protected land along the Verona Segment in Dane County. The Dane County Chapter facilitated the three-year-long restoration project. Photo by David Lonsdorf.

The Verona Segment's Moraine Kettles Preserve

Success Story!

Verona’s  Moraine Kettles Preserve – An Ice Age Trail Success Story!

Volunteer crew leader, James Luebke, carefully rolled the last large stone into place along the low wall, guarding the roots of the large shagbark hickory tree. Dirt was added to fill in the gaps and tamped into place with the heavy tamping bar. Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief. Then, one-by-one, big grins spread across the faces of the crew leaders and other volunteers…

Continue reading [PDF]

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This view greets hikers of all ages as they explore the Table Bluff Segment in Dane County. Glorious summer days highlight the efforts of the landowners who meticulously restored their property to native prairie. Photo by Lea Cicchiello.

Table Bluff Segment and Swamplovers

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The popular Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs through the Swamplovers Preserve.

On November 24, 2020, the ownership and management responsibilities of the Swamplovers Preserve, a 433-acre property perched on the rolling hills of southwestern Dane County, transferred from the Swamplovers Foundation to the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

“After considerable thought and collaboration, we signed the paperwork with complete confidence,” said Lee Swanson, a founding member of the Swamplovers Preserve. “Gerry, Tom, and I have full faith in the Alliance’s commitment to the land we’ve cared for during the past 33 years.”

The seeds of this historic moment were cast in 1987 when a team of visionaries – Lee Swanson, Gerry Goth, Tom Keuhn, and the late Joe Keuhn (Tom’s brother) – purchased the property, once plotted for development. Acquired initially as hunting grounds for outdoor recreation, these acres became prized for their natural features including presettlement vegetations such bur and white oak savanna interspersed with prairie and marsh.

Read more…



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33 acres of agricultural fields, currently part of the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Muir Preserve in Marquette County, will be restored to native prairie. This is the type of habitat most beneficial for supporting endangered species like the Karner blue butterfly. Photo by Steve Apps Photography.

Bringing back an endangered species

Success Story!

Bringing Together Landowners  and Butterflies. Article by Kevin Thusius

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… 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…

Continue reading [PDF]

Are you a landowner interested in preserving your land?

We’d love to have you involved. If your land is on or near the route of the Trail, we may be able to work with you to protect the property. If the land is not near the Trail, there may be an opportunity for a donation that would benefit the Ice Age Trail and generations of its users.

For more information, please contact Director of Land Conservation Kevin Thusius at or (800) 227-0046.