Government Shutdown and the IAT

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Government Shutdown, National Park Service, Volunteers in the Park insurance program

Snow covered boardwalk along the Plover River Segment, Marathon County. Photo by Rachel Roberts.

First the Good News:

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail remains open for hiking, snowshoeing, running, and backpacking. Please continue to enjoy the Ice Age Trail and the activities which get you outside and bring you joy.

Now, for the Not-So Good News:

Even though the Ice Age Trail itself is not closed during the government shutdown, ALL VOLUNTEER-BASED activities are suspended.

Why?

Although the Ice Age Trail Alliance is largely funded by memberships, grant funds, and generous private and corporate donors, the insurance we carry for our volunteer activities is funded through the National Park Service, a federally funded organization. 

Consequently, any injuries or claims that may occur during this shutdown will not be covered the Volunteers in the Park insurance program.

What does this mean for YOU?

CANCELLED volunteer-led activities, for example, upcoming First Day hikes and Trail Improvement days which were already populating the January 2019 calendar. (Please check the on-line calendar and call or email the organizer to verify status of the event.)

SUSPENDED TRAIL ANGEL activities. Volunteers who could normally shuttle hikers from one spot to another on the Trail are encouraged to forgo this popular service. If anything should happen while shuttling a hiker, the accident or injury will no longer be covered by the Volunteers in the Park insurance program.

Since the Alliance has no enforcement policy with regard to any trail activities, we can only strongly advise cancelling any activities that involve volunteerism. Participation in any volunteer capacity is at your own risk and personal liability.

Official Notice from Eric Gabriel, National Park Service Superintendent for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

In the case of a government lack of appropriations “a shutdown”, National Park Service (NPS) volunteers (VIPs) are not allowed to serve. VIPs are considered part of the workforce, representing the National Park Service, in support of our mission. During a shutdown the normal protections and liability coverages are suspended.

VIPs will follow the same schedule as furloughed NPS employees, and must follow the same restrictions as NPS employees. This includes not accessing closed federal buildings and not using any federal equipment or property, such as vehicles, computers or mobile phones, maintenance equipment, or educational props. VIPs may continue to stay in NPS housing and campgrounds at the discretion of park superintendents.

Individuals or groups wishing to volunteer for park partners who are active during the government shutdown must sign up separately as a volunteer(s) for that partner and be covered by insurance and human resource policies of that partner. In the case of a volunteer enlisting to serve with a partner, the volunteer must also wear whatever uniforrn is prescribed by the partner, but may not wear the NPS VIP uniform in performance of these duties.

 

Get Out & Give Back – May 20th & 21st

Trail Happenings!

Photo by Dave Caliebe

GET OUT: Hikes

Boost your happiness; immerse yourself in a healthy dose of nature (vitamin Green!).

Dane County Chapter, Cross Plains Segment: Birding Hike

Early spring mornings are the time to see and hear migrating and newly-arrived birds of the woodlands, savanna and prairie habitats along the loop in the highlands above Cross Plains. Bring binoculars; hike leader will help identify avian friends! Continue reading

Soul Shakedown: The MSC Season Launches!!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skill Crew Season Launches, triple-header, Ringle Segment, Firth Lake Segment, Wall Hi Segment

A moss covered erratic is one of the treasures waiting to be discovered on the soon-to-be Walla Hi Segment. Photo by Tim Malzhan

Ice Age Trail Supporters!

Dispense with data management and deadlines. The 2017 triple-header season opener is happening at three locations across the State!

All great ideas need a canvas upon which to rest. Inspired trail experiences owe their origin to clearing and cutting brush to rough in a “corridor of opportunity”.  And, it’s fun! Corridor clearing is a great way to see positive results in a hurry and a wide-range of ages and skills can get a thrill wielding a handsaw or clippers.

What We’re Doing:

We’re starting the season early to get ahead of seasonal restrictions on cutting or pruning oak trees, and to avoid disturbance to bird nesting seasons. The triple-header events will help chapters in Marathon, Chippewa, and Manitowoc counties manage their respective trail maintenance needs. Each is preparing their trails for blockbuster tread construction events to follow later in the season.

Tools will be provided, but Certified Sawyers are encouraged to bring their own gear. Continue reading

Dane Savanna Restoration, Lodi Marsh SWA

We will augment the work today of Ed Spoon’s trail corridor clearing crew, but we will not limit our clearing of invasive brush and trees to the trail corridor proper. Besides hand tool work, there will be work for trained and equipped chain sawyers, as well as power brush cutter operators.  Contact leader in advance for details.  Meet at the Twin Pines lot on Lodi/Springfield Rd. (map/directions).

Working Together, Impressive Results

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Taylor County MSC 2016

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe – Wood Lake graced by a Bald Eagle and two Trumpeter swans.

Taylor County, sculpted by the powerful forces of glacial ice, is known for its undulating, hummocky terrain and smooth-as-glass kettle lakes reflecting sky and clouds, is already beautiful, and last week, it just got more attractive.

A 104 volunteers with a shared vision of making the Ice Age Trail the best it can be, accomplished a phenomenal amount of Trail improvements on three of the seven Trail segments in Taylor County over the course of 7 days and 3,100 hours of effort. Continue reading

Welcome to Wisconsin’s Jungle!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Ice Age Trail Alliance Blue Hills Mobile Skills Crew

Photo credit: D. Caliebe

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail inspires an intensity of passion and purpose that is pure and rare.  If you could bottle it up, you could sell it for a fortune.

This enthusiastic dedication was unleashed in a whirlwind of focused activity when 77 volunteers pitched in for 2,794 hours to maintain and upgrade an astonishing 20+ miles of Trail, spanning three counties, and five Ice Age Trail segments. Continue reading

A Texas-Sized Project in the Blue Hills – Join Us!

Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew Ice Age National Scenic Trail

MSC volunteers Gail Piotrowski and Kevin Welton paint a fresh set of blazes to mark the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Photo credit: D.Caliebe

Think of a Texas-sized project spread out along 30 miles of trail with outsized brush, brambles, beaver dams, hoodoos and swamp-like-terrain.  This area is remote and Mother-Nature is law-less and overgrown.

Please join us in the Blue Hills to help care for and steward the Trail by reinvigorating and keeping existing Trail segments clearly signed and open for hikers. This MSC project is full-on, straight-up trail maintenance. Continue reading

How to Build a Cathedral in 2016

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Trailbuilding at Rusch Preserve

Photo credit: R. Roberts

The great cathedrals of Europe were years in the making. Like the Ice Age Trail, the wonders of Notre-Dame, Saint-Denis and Chartres demonstrate how solutions evolve and the work of one generation leads to and builds on the work of another.

The Ice Age Trail, entering its 36th year as a National Scenic Trail, also continues to evolve and improve from the lessons learned and hard work of successive years. Thank You to all 171 volunteers who pitched in for 3,672 hours to help build a cathedral of the ages for the current generation, and those well into the future, along the Rib Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

Kids Fight Invasive Species!

Hartland School of Community Learning Hartland Saunters Marsh Clean up 2016

This is what happiness looks like: sunshine, fresh air, muscles put to good use, and the satisfaction of a job well done!
Photo credit: P. Witkowski

The boundless energy of kids.

We all wish we had a bit more of it ourselves.

Perhaps you’ve even wished you could harness it.

What if you could focus all that energy and unleash it like a super power, in service of a better, brighter world?

Well, the visionaries of Village of Hartland and the Hartland School of Community Learning did just that through a collaborative service event on Friday, May 6th to clean up a section of the Hartland Marsh. Continue reading

Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter Workday

We’ll be doing trail maintenance as a final prep for the 100-mile ultramarathon and National Trails Day on June 6.

Meet at the Highway 12 parking lot 5 miles east of Whitewater on the north side of the road. Look for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail sign. A state park sticker is required.

Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter Workday

We’ll be doing trail maintenance as a final prep for the 100-mile ultramarathon and National Trails Day on June 6.

Meet at the Highway 12 parking lot 5 miles east of Whitewater on the north side of the road. Look for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail sign. A state park sticker is required.

Lodi Valley Chapter Trail Improvement Event

We will work for about three hours in preparation for our Mammoth Fun Run on National Trails Day. South Wayside Park of Merrimac Ferry. For directions visit here. Help out for as little or as long as you like.

Bring work gloves, water and a snack. Wear hefty shoes & long sleeves. Bring bug spray of your choosing & an energetic attitude! Watch for the yellow Ice Age Trail event sign.

Lodi Valley Chapter Trail Improvement Event

We will work for about three hours at Rainbow Bridge (get driving directions here). Help out for as little or as long as you like.

Bring work gloves, water and a snack. Wear hefty shoes & long sleeves. Bring bug spray of your choosing & an energetic attitude! Watch for the yellow Ice Age Trail event sign.

Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter Workday

We’ll do some trail maintenance work, including cutting back honeysuckle, berry bushes and more.

Meet at the Highway 12 parking lot 5 miles east of Whitewater on the north side of the road. Look for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail sign. A state park sticker is required.

Dane County Chapter Savanna Restoration

There are several sites on this property, which hosts a new loop trail ideal for snowshoeing, that have savanna remnants featuring large open-growth bur and white oaks. These trees and the native plant community still remaining may survive if we clear brush and unwanted trees that invaded when fire stopped and open up these fragile areas to more sunlight. These sites were identified as the highest priority for immediate restoration by a professional (Craig Annen, Integrated Restorations LLC).

The site is in the Town of Roxbury about 10 miles northwest of Middleton. Turn northeast off Hwy 12 onto Ballweg Rd, then right on the old Hwy 12 right-of-way and park above the end of the pavement, or as signs direct.

Dane County Chapter Savanna Restoration

We’ll continue to remove invasive brush and encroaching cedar as part of an ongoing restoration project at the Lodi Marsh State Wildlife Area, where we discovered a savanna remnant. 

This work, along with DNR’s recent mechanized brush-clearing work in a large adjoining area, should permit fire and other macro-management tools to enhance a multi-acre open area abutting the trail. If there’s snow cover, expect to burn brush piles and cook lunch. 

Meet at the aptly named Twin Pines lot, which is 0.3-0.4 miles north of the kiosk lot on Lodi-Springfield Rd.  Map/directions.

Dane County Chapter Brush Clearing

We’ll meet at Prairie Moraine County Park. 

Our worksite is the former Gust property, but we’re calling it Moraine Kettles because the Ice Age Trail straddles the Johnston terminal moraine and passes five kettles between Hwy PB on the southeast and Hwy M on the north. 

One of several goals of our restoration effort is to enhance the kettles’ visibility and visual appeal.  Expect to burn brush piles and cook lunch on the coals if there’s snow cover.

Lodi Valley Chapter Trail Improvement Event

All of the tools and training will be provided. Please wear comfortable hiking/work boots and bring along a bottle of water, leather work gloves, and snack. Dress appropriately for the weather. Long sleeves and pants are also recommended, as some of the brush can have thorns and poison ivy may be in the area. It is also beneficial to always carry insect repellent, sunscreen, and a hat in a daypack for workdays.

Watch for yellow and black Ice Age Trail Event signs.

 

Dane County Chapter Savanna Restoration

We’ll continue ongoing removal of invasive shrubs at one of several active sites in the DNR-owned portion of the reserve on the north side of Old Sauk Pass, adding to the brush piles started last summer while we burn them, conditions permitting. Cook lunch or dessert over the coals!

Washington/Ozaukee County Chapter Workday

It is that time of the year when we pack things up for the winter. We will prepare our tools for storage by checking their condition, cleaning, repairing, sorting, inventorying, and storing them.

We’ll meet at our chapter’s maintenance shed, located on the east side of Kettle Moraine Road about half a mile south of the main entrance off of Hwy 60. Watch for yellow and black Ice Age Trail Event signs.