New Section of Waterville Segment Replaces Busy Road Walk!

Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
2020 reawakened a love of the outdoors in many Wisconsinites. A perfect distillation of this excitement came from our Waterville Gap Campaign to help get the Trail off of a dangerous road walk in Waukesha County. The call to action went out in July of 2020, and by September we had exceeded our fundraising goal. In an astonishing show of grassroots philanthropy, the project was funded and purchased in under five months, and the new Trail opened in just over a year.

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The Reimagined Ringle Segment is almost a Reality!

The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The less-than-stellar weather, coupled with a record hatch of mosquitos, attempted to slow down the 78 dedicated volunteers at the Ringle Trailbuilding event. Over four and a half days, and through rain, mud, and clouds of bug spray, volunteers contributed 1,972 hours to open a beautiful new half-mile section of Trail. Volunteers cut and hauled lumber, built bridges, constructed rock walls, drafted blazes, crafted tread and slung rotten granite through the air via a highline to more easily – and safely – create a hardened walking surface through a moss-covered boulder field.

The stage is set, and with October rapidly approaching, we await the final act in the Reimagining of Ringle saga.

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Three New Miles of Trail in Dane County!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Mammoth's Back Preserve, Valley View Segment, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew Events 2021
A crew of swampers pile brush in an effort to clear the corridor for a new section of Ice Age Trail along the Cross Plains Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Despite the sweltering heat and violent weather, two new Ice Age National Scenic Trail sections are open after a five-day Mobile Skills Crew Reconnect event. The efforts of 86 volunteers, donating 1,852 service hours, created a new path through Mammoth’s Back Preserve and more off-road hiking along the Valley View Segment. Each section is a work in progress and will require continued restoration. But, it is hard to overstate the value of three newly opened miles of Ice Age Trail in Dane County.

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A New Bridge Spans Sailor Creek!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Sailor Creek Bridge, US Forest Service, Jerry Lake Segment
Volunteers cart soon-to-be repurposed deck boards to another location. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Perfect weather, minimal bugs, and a fantastic crew, made for quick work as the bridge over Sailor Creek rose from the mud like a lotus. The squelching of boots through curmudgeonly swamp accompanied the din of hammers, saws, and drills, as 20 volunteers came together to complete the 178-foot-long Forest Service structure. In just over three days, the Jerry Lake Project totaled over 500 service hours! “Big Spider Bridge” will allow for the safe crossing of Sailor Creek for the next half century.

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Joining Forces to Improve Water Quality

By Luke Kloberdanz, Director of Philanthropy for the Ice Age Trail Alliance

When kindred spirits come together, it’s all smiles. Members of the Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation present a $25,000 check to Ice
Age Trail Alliance staff. Standing left to right in front of an enormous kettle of New Glarus Brewing Company brew is Ciaran O’Neill-Culhane, Eric Felt, Riley Miller, Mike Wollmer, Kari Haser, Luke Kloberdanz, and Drew Cochrane. Photo by Susan Moen.
When kindred spirits come together, it’s all smiles. Members of the Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation present a $25,000 check to Ice Age Trail Alliance staff. Standing left to right in front of an enormous kettle of New Glarus Brewing Company brew is Ciaran O’Neill-Culhane, Eric Felt, Riley Miller, Mike Wollmer, Kari Haser, Luke Kloberdanz, and Drew Cochrane. Photo by Susan Moen.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is proud to call Wisconsin home. The land, the people, and the Trail connecting these places and communities are core elements of our work. In recent years, the Alliance launched its Corporate Friends program, further advancing our mission to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The family is growing!

Recently, the Alliance joined in partnership with an iconic brand, New Glarus Brewing Company and its Only in Wisconsin Giving, Inc. Charitable Foundation. Established in 1993, the New Glarus Brewing Company’s philosophy is based on individuality, cooperation, and the employment of 100% natural ingredients to produce world-class, handcrafted beers. Like the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which meanders exclusively throughout the state, the New Glarus Brewing Company proudly claims their beers are brewed “Only in Wisconsin”.

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A One-Mile Section Becomes a Jewel

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding season
A newly built 311-foot-long boardwalk greets hikers as they emerge from the woods along the Montrose Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
After two days of sawdust-filled work preassembling frames and cutting deck boards, all hands were on deck to begin construction in the middle of the week. Over three days, despite challenging weather (Tuesday was cut short due to rain), 20 volunteers donated 351 hours of service to construct 311 feet of boardwalk and a 12-foot bridge. These structures offer easier passage for hikers across an area notorious for standing water and muddy conditions.

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Highlighting the Glacial Beauty of the Blue Hills Region

Images worth a thousand words: Glacial rock and water formations are scattered throughout this beautiful landscape in Rusk County. Volunteers took in the sights while walking the land and planning how to best route future trail to highlight and preserve these features. Photos by Dave Caliebe.

Over four days, 19 individuals methodically explored more than six square miles of remote Rusk County. Building on the trail layout event last October, we continued to narrow down the locations for future Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Our group sought ways to connect significant geological features of the area and avoid wetlands and logging interaction where ever possible.

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Ready! Set! Plant!

An image of volunteers getting ready to plant trees. They line up before the area where the trees will be planted, holding red flags that will be used to mark newly planted trees. Pine trees tower above them in the background, before partially cloudy skies.
Volunteers line up, ready to plant trees that will eventually transform the old pine plantation at the Brownrigg-Heier Preserve into a sustainable hardwood forest. Photo by Amy Lord.
2021 is a year of new beginnings, new growth, and reconnecting. Our reforestation effort in Manitowoc County upholds this sense of hope for the year and beyond.

Beginning on Friday, April 30 – National Arbor Day – 60 volunteers came together to plant 5,500 young trees on the Ice Age Trail Alliance-owned Brownrigg-Heier Preserve. Volunteers (some coming from three hours away) donated 730 hours to help improve the earth in an effort extending beyond their lifetimes.

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Volunteers Upgrade Structures on the Waterville Segment

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding, Reconnect 2021
Members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter work together to deliver a boardwalk frame to the construction site. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Over three official days (and one unofficial), 31 volunteers donated 615 hours to build four structures totaling 450 feet. Ahead of the project, efforts by the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter generated momentum with pre-built boardwalk frames. The on-site crews, composed predominately of chapter members, maintained the pace with their skillful construction. They also remained undeterred by the fickle weather, which alternated between snow squalls and spring sunshine. Continue reading

Volunteers Transform Slopes of Steenbock Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Steenbock Preserve, Gibraltar Rock Segment, MSC, 2021, Mobile Skills Crew, Volunteers, Land Stewardship
Dane County Chapter volunteer Tom Wise clears trees to help transform the hillside from an encroaching juniper forest into diverse oak and prairie habitat. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
For the fifth year running, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) came together with volunteers to continue restoration efforts on the Gibraltar Rock Segment. Under exhaustive conditions, crews worked to remove the invading juniper forest from the slopes of the Steenbock Preserve. Thanks to your efforts, biodiversity will be increased and nearly three acres of historic prairie can begin to heal and reclaim the landscape.

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Volunteers Ensure Successful 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Stone Steps, Trailbuilding, Volunteers
Volunteers spent 7,727 hours building and improving segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this trailbuilding season, including these beautifully crafted stone steps on the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
In an especially trying year, we learned how valuable the work we perform is as countless people discovered adventure near home. Parking lots filled and overflowed. Quiet, little known segments awoke with the footsteps and chatter of newly initiated hikers.

In May, after an unsettling absence, volunteers reconnected with the Ice Age Trail. Your skills and efforts were needed – and appreciated – more than ever. With our productive start to the year in the rearview mirror, we regrouped and accomplished quite a bit – and did it safely. Thank you for everything you did this year, and in the previous decades, to create one of the Midwest’s best hiking trails.

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Trail Layout & Design Training – Blue Hills Segment

Overview:

2020 Trail Layout & Design Training

Sustainable trail layout and design (TL&D) is the difference between trails that last and those that don’t. This training is for committed trail workers who want to be an ongoing participant in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail’s development and stewardship.

Training outcomes will directly contribute to a proposed 17-mile reroute. Field work entails evaluating physical, biological, recreational and cultural attributes, identifying positive and negative control points, and methodically documenting findings and observations.

Rain or shine, we’ll explore sustainable TL&D concepts in and out of doors.

This event take’s place Wednesday October 21 through Saturday October 24 in the Blue Hills of Rusk County. A base camp will be at Murphy Flowage Recreation Area, near Birchwood, WI. After a 1/2-day training session, participants will divide into small crews to assess designated areas up to 5 square miles in area.

Crews will have minimal support while in the field. There is little to no cell reception. The Rusk County Forest is vast with few roads, access points. Terrain is rocky, uneven, and wet.

Participants must be able to commit to at least three days as described below.

TL&D as a process is strenuous hard work, physically demanding and requires perseverance in the field. A successful candidate for this training will be selected from a list of skill sets to include some of the following:

Criteria:

  • Ability to bushwhack up to 5-7 miles per day, with pack and equipment
  • Ability to use both compass and clinometer effectively
  • Experience reading/interpreting topo maps
  • Backpacking experience is required
  • First Aid/CPR certification is desired
  • A commitment of a minimum 3.5 days is required
  • Extensive trailbuilding experience at Mobile Skills Crew events is a must

Completing “Trail Safe” (link) is required. Trail Safe! consists of eight video lessons, each ranging in length from 18 to 40 minutes long. Viewing the entire eight lesson series will take approximately three hours. Watch them over the course of multiple days, or “binge watch” in three hours—it’s up to you—but please watch them in numeric order from Lesson 1 through Lesson 8.

Applications are accepted until Friday, September 25.

Application Link

See a map of the project area [PDF]

 

 

A Brilliant Finale for the 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Project, Reconnect
A volunteer crew shovels rotten granite into a pile for distribution along soft tread. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Like the witch-hazel flowers that dazzle in autumn as its leaves fall to the ground, the 2020 Reconnect Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Season had a final flourish before settling in for winter. We all needed a bright spot this year, and Mother Nature provided plenty of brilliance during the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event. The weather, the leaves, the volunteers were perfect.

It was a much-needed respite from the unsettled “real” world. Bad news only came when your name was called to help move rotten granite. Continue reading

Reconnect: Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – Ringle Segment, October 5-11, 2020

Register here

Overview:

This event continues new trail construction in the heart of the reimagined Ringle Segment. Help put the exclamation point on 4.6 miles of new trail! Deep-woods stonework, tread construction, and more lies ahead.

Participation will be limited to 50 volunteers per day per DNR guidelines.

Volunteers in Parks and COVID-19 Safety Information:

  • We’re excited to have you join us, however, please know the symptoms of the coronavirus and be prepared to STAY HOME if you exhibit any of them. Please visit the CDC website and view the symptoms listed there. Consider using the Self-Checker, an interactive guide, located mid-way down the page, which can help you make your decision. Go there now.
  • Please complete this COVID-19 OF-301A Fillable Form.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) requires every volunteer to complete a COVID-19 OF-301A Volunteer Service Agreement, whether you are a new IATA volunteer or a returning volunteer who has not yet filled out the post-March 24, 2020 version of this form.
  • Please email the completed form to Dan Watson, NPS Volunteer Coordinator, ([email protected]).
  • Dan will reply to you with a signed copy of the form.

Please read through these documents as they provide additional safety guidelines:

  1. A Cover Letter from Eric Gabriel, Superintendent[PDF]
  2. IATR-VIP Risk Assessment Tool[PDF]
  3. Covid19Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)[PDF]

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. The project begins on Monday, October 5 and concludes Sunday, October 11. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries. Stay tuned for updates to Base Camp options.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

 

Mobile Skills Crew Event: Join us on the Ringle Segment!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Event
The final MSC event of the 2020 trailbuilding season will be taking place on the Ringle Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail on October 5-11. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Mobile Skills Crew Event

Ringle Segment

Marathon County (Central Wisconsin)

October 5-11, 2020

To say the least, it’s been a weird year. With plans everchanging, we hold on to the normal activities – the ones we can still do – to anchor our lives. A constant on the Mobile Skills Crew event (MSC) calendar since 2017, trailbuilding along the Ringle Segment provides familiarity: the base camp setting, the scenery, the type of work. It’s fitting, in this discombobulated year, that we end with an old friend.

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Boardwalk Construction a Speedy Success!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Southern Kewaskum Segment, Boardwalk, Trailbuilding, MSC, Mobile Skills Crew
Completed boardwalk on the Southern Kewaskum Segment through the efforts of volunteers during the September Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Exceeding expectations is easy when ideal weather and the perfect group of volunteers align, as they did for the Washington County Mobile Skills Crew event. This combination generated a momentum that blew ahead of the pre-set schedule.

Each task was sizeable but proved no challenge for the crews. Veteran trailbuilders brought new volunteers up to speed under their careful tutelage. A strong team formed to knock out the work, while wearing masks and following COVID-19 safety protocols.

The final product, a 269-foot-long boardwalk, includes a bump-out designed as a wheel-chair passing zone and look-out platform for hikers wishing to slow down and listen to the springtime chorus of frogs.

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Reconnect: Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – Washington County

Register here

Overview:

Recovery continues! This event ranges wide to include the West Bend, Kewaskum and Holy Hill segments. Goals include new boardwalk construction, building new and improving existing trail.

Volunteers in Parks and COVID-19 Safety Information:

  • We’re excited to have you join us, however, please know the symptoms of the coronavirus and be prepared to STAY HOME if you exhibit any of them. Please visit the CDC website and view the symptoms listed there. Consider using the Self-Checker, an interactive guide, located mid-way down the page, which can help you make your decision. Go there now.
  • Please complete this COVID-19 OF-301A Fillable Form.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) requires every volunteer to complete a COVID-19 OF-301A Volunteer Service Agreement, whether you are a new IATA volunteer or a returning volunteer who has not yet filled out the post-March 24, 2020 version of this form.
  • Please email the completed form to Dan Watson, NPS Volunteer Coordinator, ([email protected]).
  • Dan will reply to you with a signed copy of the form.

Please read through these documents as they provide additional safety guidelines:

  1. A Cover Letter from Eric Gabriel, Superintendent[PDF]
  2. IATR-VIP Risk Assessment Tool[PDF]
  3. Covid19Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)[PDF]

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. The project begins on Thursday, September 17 and concludes Sunday, September 20. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries. Stay tuned for updates to Base Camp and project support plans.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

 

Mobile Skills Crew Event a Success During Pandemic!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Volunteers, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC, Boardwalk, LaBudde Creek Segment
A volunteer works steadily and safely while adding the kick plate, a finishing touch along the 248-foot-long boardwalk on the LaBudde Creek Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Our first Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event since February, the LaBudde Creek event brought a kaleidoscope of emotions:

  • anxiety, like when dancing after not having done so in a long while;
  • change, as when seeing with new eyes a way to navigate new norms;
  • gratitude, like when an old friend breaks silence with laughter.

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Reconnect: Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – LaBudde Creek Segment

Thank you for your interest. Registration has reached capacity and is closed.

Register here

Overview:

“Buddy” is a quiet gem whose features grow on you with each visit. Join in and build 150 feet of boardwalk, tune-up 3 miles of trail, hop on a satellite crew for a special assignment or maybe…just maybe…glimpse the future with new trail development planned to the north.

Volunteers in Parks and COVID-19 Safety Information:

  • We’re excited to have you join us, however, please know the symptoms of the coronavirus and be prepared to STAY HOME if you exhibit any of them. Please visit the CDC website and view the symptoms listed there. Consider using the Self-Checker, an interactive guide, located mid-way down the page, which can help you make your decision. Go there now.
  • Please complete this COVID-19 OF-301A Fillable Form.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) requires every volunteer to complete a COVID-19 OF-301A Volunteer Service Agreement, whether you are a new IATA volunteer or a returning volunteer who has not yet filled out the post-March 24, 2020 version of this form.
  • Please email the completed form to Dan Watson, NPS Volunteer Coordinator, ([email protected]).
  • Dan will reply to you with a signed copy of the form.

Please read through these documents as they provide additional safety guidelines:

  1. A Cover Letter from Eric Gabriel, Superintendent[PDF]
  2. IATR-VIP Risk Assessment Tool[PDF]
  3. Covid19Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)[PDF]

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. The project begins on Thursday, August 20 and concludes Sunday, August 23. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries. Stay tuned for updates to Base Camp and project support as they are available.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

 

Brownrigg-Heir Preserve Native Tree Reforestation – Postponed

NOTICE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the concern for the health of volunteers and staff, we have postponed this project until further notice.

Our priority is to keep everyone safe. Please stay tuned for further information.

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Overview:

Just a few weeks after Earth Day, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and volunteers will be hand planting 5,500 native trees on the Alliance owned Brownrigg-Heier Preserve. These trees will replace 8-acres of recently harvested Pine plantation, converting the area to a more natural and sustainable forest, with species estimated to have increased adaptive capacity to changing climate.

No previous experience is necessary. There will be roles for all ages and abilities.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule: Postponed

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. The project begins on Thursday, May 7 and concludes Saturday, May 9. Planting  activities begin each day around 9:00 a.m. and conclude by 3:00 p.m.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.