By Sevie Kenyon, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
The Connors Family has a strong commitment to “close the gaps” in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The purpose of the Robert & Victoria Land Resource Fund is to facilitate land acquisition by the Alliance to host and permanently protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The fund offers the resources needed to act quickly when land protection opportunities arise.
At a quick glance, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail may seem a humble trail. But when someone who has circled the globe multiple times, traversed trails wide and far, and been in and out of the Grand Canyon on foot twice, uses the word “spectacular” about the Ice Age Trail, well…
“I’ve been hiking for more than 40 years. My introduction to the Ice Age Trail was in the Whitewater Lake area,” Bob Connors says. “ I feel like I’m an ambassador for the Trail, I’ve led many hikes and I even get a little possessive about it.”
Bob and his spouse, Vicky, got to the trailhead that day with friends from the Forest Trails Hiking Club; a club based near Chicago where they live.
The club routinely visits Wisconsin to bike and hike and that day was the beginning of a passion for the Ice Age Trail (IAT). On the day of this interview, Vicky was on the IAT for a 26-mile hike with the club.
Given his passion for the IAT, it’s no wonder Bob served on the board of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the overseeing body for the Trail. Serving on the Alliance board afforded Bob the opportunity to specifically direct his passions toward programming to expand Trail resources.
Bob provided the seed money needed for the recent Muir Properties Land Acquisition Campaign whereby two important pieces of land were forever protected for the Trail. He also established the Robert and Victoria Connors Land Resource Fund.
“I was happy to serve on the board and I wanted to use my directorship to encourage the Alliance to become more aggressive about completing the Trail,” Bob says. “The Land Resource Fund is intended to be a revolving fund; a pool of money ready to use for taking care of costs like down payments, lawyers, surveys, and title searches while fund raising is going on to acquire the land.”
Talking points for approaching landowners, farmers in particular, when seeking land to expand the Trail include pointing out that the land the Alliance is interested in usually isn’t very productive. Hikers are looking for steep hillsides, marshes, hedgerows, and other out-of-the-way places to walk. Such land is hard to farm or develop, Bob notes, and is therefore something farmers and landowners may be willing to make available for the Trail.
Meanwhile, having the Robert and Victoria Connors Land Resource Fund positions the Alliance to move fast to start the land buying process when opportunities come along. The idea is to use money from the Land Resource Fund to get started and then restore the fund to keep it ready for future opportunities.
Bob has had a life of travel going back to his youth when he was allowed to go on a bus to Gettysburg for the 100th anniversary of the Civil War battle there. More time was spent hitchhiking through Europe. Before law school Bob bought a VW bus and set out with a friend to explore the western United States. He mentioned going around the world on a cruise with his mother as one of the best trips ever.
Hiking remains a central part of the life he shares with Vicky. They are on the Ice Age Trail as much as they can. Bob isn’t doing vigorous hikes anymore as he is fending off the effects of cancer and putting his life in order. There’s nothing like a new chapter in life to cause a person to reflect on what’s important. And the Ice Age Trail is important.
“The Ice Age Trail isn’t humble. It’s beautiful, it’s accessible, it’s nearby,” he says. Words from someone who once climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and has walked the trails of Europe.
Donate in Support of Land Protection
We welcome your contribution to the Robert & Victoria Connors Land Resource Fund. We appreciate your willingness to support the vision of a continuous Ice Age Trail in this way.
About the Author
Sevie Kenyon is a retired agricultural photographer and writer currently living in Oregon, Wisconsin. He is a member of the Rock County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. When asked about his favorite place on the Ice Age Trail, Sevie will tell you “every step of it.” For more of Kenyon’s work, check out his photography and stories.