Photo Credit: Katie Weber

Land Conservation

The Ice Age Trail is not yet complete. One step in completing the Trail, and one of our goals, is permanently protecting the land which hosts the Trail.


Yearly Achievements


Acres Protected


Miles of Trail Protected


Properties Acquired


Acres Protected Since 1986!

What Does Permanent Protection Mean?

Although 685 miles of the Trail are blazed, protecting the entire Ice Age Trail requires more than 1,000 land transactions to fill the current gaps in the Trail.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Land Protection, Table bluff Segment
Families enjoy a hike on the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail near Cross Plains. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

Land Protection Options

With your support, we are able to use a variety of tools to secure permanent protection for the Trail.

The Alliance protects the Trail by acquiring:

  • Land
  • Conservation easements
  • Trail easements

When land is acquired, we (or one of our partners) become the owner of the property.

On a private property that hosts the Trail, an easement allows the landowner to keep ownership while protecting the route of the Trail and, in many cases, the land surrounding it.

The three land protection options above can take place as:

  • a purchase by the Alliance;
  • a donation;
  • a reduced-price sale.

Donations and reduced-price sales are often tax deductible for the donor.

Important Sources of Funding for Land Protection

Land protection funding is an alchemy of public dollars and private donors.

The Highland Lakes Eastern Segment of the Ice Age Trail. (photo by Cameron Gillie)

Property Monitoring Fund

Ensuring the legacy of the Trail requires the Ice Age Trail Alliance to maintain the land, where it owns the properties, into perpetuity. The Property Monitoring Fund covers the annual cost of performing monitoring on our property interests, including easements, Alliance-owned land, deed restricted properties, and others.

A contribution to our Property Monitoring Fund makes you a vital part of the Ice Age Trail’s legacy. Your generosity allows us to continue purposefully maintaining the land in our care and helps us protect the Ice Age Trail forever.

To donate to the fund, please contact Sarah Driscoll, Philanthropy Manager at 608-798-4453 ext. 227 or

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Robert and Victoria Connors Land Resource Fund

The Robert & Victoria Connors Land Resource Fund

The Connors have a strong commitment to “close the gaps” in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The purpose of this fund is to facilitate land acquisition by the Alliance to host and permanently protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The Connors family generously provided the Alliance with a generous lead gift that provides the resources needed to act quickly when land protection opportunities arise.

To effectively close the gaps, this fund needs additional support from Trail enthusiasts like you. Please consider contributing to the Robert & Victoria Connors Land Resource Fund.

Want to learn more? Contact Sarah Driscoll, Philanthropy Manager, at or 608-798-4453 ext. 227.

Donate directly to the fund.

Lodi Marsh Segment-Southern Columbia County-Photo by Loni Broesch

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

Federal funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund has, historically, provided the impetus for land purchases used to expand and protect the Trail.

Responsible leverage of federal dollars via the LWCF, have led to matching funds at a rate of 2.5 times by IATA partners: the State of Wisconsin, city and county government, and private individuals, including land donations.

Leveraging LWCF Since 2000

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Waupaca River Segment, Land Protection, Photo by J. Bark

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund

State funding through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is what makes land and water conservation in Wisconsin possible. It is a vital source of funding used by the Alliance and its partner organizations to protect land and water in Wisconsin. Stewardship grants are used to:

  • Protect our water resources and air quality
  • Provide wildlife habitat
  • Support jobs and local economies
  • Promote outdoor recreation

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grants have made numerous land purchases for the Ice Age Trail possible. If you have a favorite segment along the Trail, there’s a good chance Knowles-Nelson funding has played a crucial role in its existence.

Learn more about this important source of funding and the issues it faces in the 2021 state budget.

Take Action: Please contact your State representatives and ask them to fund the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. It’s easy. We have an email all ready for you to send directly to the folks in your region. Take ACTION now!

Land Protection Highlights!

A few of our favorite stories of generous landowners committed to helping us close the gaps!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Land Protection Success, Brownrigg-Heir Property

Family, Legacy, and the Creation of the Brownrigg-Heier Preserve

In December 2015, John and Nancy Brownrigg — along with their daughter and her husband, Deb and Tom Heier — closed a deal with the IATA that would transition ownership of the family’s land in Manitowoc County to the Alliance. No ordinary land acquisition, the plot of over 130 acres lies in the geologically rich Walla Hi region of Wisconsin…

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Fiore-Wise Land Protection Success

Long-Time Neighbors/Volunteers Donate Property, Expand Preserve Boundaries

Tom Wise — a skillful sawyer and long-time “burn boss” — has volunteered with the Ice Age Trail Alliance for more than 25 years. His distinctive white beard and Einstein-like hairdo are iconic emblems at Dane County Chapter workdays.

About 30 years ago Tom and his wife Bonnie bought some land featuring beautifully mature oak trees, rolling topography…

Henderson Land Protection Success

Donors Step-Up to Protect Critical Ice Age Trail Lands

We’ll have to pass.” These were the words of Mike Wollmer, Executive Director of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, earlier this year when discussing the acquisition of two properties for the Ice Age Trail near John Muir’s boyhood home in Marquette County. He was right, and the reality of these words felt like a crushing blow…

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Moraine Woods Conservation Park Land Protection Success

Moraine Woods Conservation Park

Moraine Woods Conservation Park. It has a nice ring, doesn’t it? October 2018 welcomed the culmination of decades of effort to protect a key property along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This could not have happened without the strong commitments of our partners at the City of Madison and Dane County. To secure the land…

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Land Trust Accreditation Commission

Land Trust Accreditation

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a land trust accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

This means we complete land transactions and own land and conservation easements that protect the Trail.

We also work with our state and federal agency partners, counties, local communities and other land trusts to protect land for the Trail.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Land Protection

Conservation Buyer Program

The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Conservation Buyer Program is an important collaboration designed to meet our mission of protecting the 1,200-mile National Scenic Trail interpreting Wisconsin’s amazing glacial history.

Through this program, we provide information about properties to conservation buyers who are interested in helping protect and preserve the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

To learn more about this program or to become part of conservation efforts, contact Kevin Thusius, Senior Director of Land Conservation (608-798-4453, ext. 224;

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 Senior Director of Land Conservation, Kevin Thusius, at or 608-798-4453 ext. 224.