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.

Ice age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Reconnect Season 2021, Mobile Skills Crew
Hardy volunteers laugh amidst a spring snow squall. Photo by Bill Leedle.

This project is the first significant effort this year to improve and upgrade the Waterville Segment in Waukesha County. In September, we will build a half-mile of new Ice Age Trail as we move the route away from a busy rural road. This effort is one of the results promised as part of the ‘Close the Waterville Gap’ campaign. We’ll also replace another boardwalk, clear invasive brush, and spruce up the remaining stretches of the segment.

Images worth a thousand words: Along the Waterville Segment, the before and after photos of boardwalks and bridges, which the chapter affectionately named for easy identification, offer clear motivation for the project. Photographers: Kevin Kuhlmann (before) and Pat Witkowski (after).

Note: The volunteers featured in these photos followed COVID-19 safety protocols by being vaccinated and maintaining social distance.

A special thank you to the following:

  • The Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter and their ringleader, Pat Witkowski, for prepping all the materials ahead of time and clearing the work sites.
  • Brad Stehno for allowing access through his property for the project – we don’t know how we would have done it without him.
    Colton Kelly and Lapham Peak staff for storage and staging and help with loading trailers.
  • Anne Korman, Superintendent of the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest for her continued support of the Ice Age Trail
    Sherri Ritz and the Blazing Babes for providing hearty and safe lunches.
  • The generous donors, including Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckstein Trust, who contributed to the ‘Close the Waterville Gap’ campaign. Your donations helped bring four new structures to the Waterville Segment.

Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust led the ‘Close the Waterville Gap’ campaign by offering a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $25,000 in support of the project. Paul Fleckenstein, who died in 2011, was a steadfast supporter of environmental education and conservation programs. In recognition of his Prairie Springs home, Fleckenstein’s charitable trust is named Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, Reconnect Season 2021
Crew Leader, Jerry Pfeifer, pauses to survey his team's construction of a 211-foot-long boardwalk.

Up Next:

April 30 – May 2, Tree Planting, Brownrigg-Heier Preserve, Manitowoc County (This event is full.)

May 1 – 4, Blue Hills Trail Layout and Design, Rusk County (This event is full.)
This event in Rusk County will focus on refining possible trail routes and connecting impressive geologic features.

May 18 – 20, Montrose Segment, Dane County (This event is full.)
A new, 330-foot-long boardwalk will keep boots dry and the Trail open and accessible. Additional stewardship opportunities to enhance the Trail corridor will round out the event.

Ice Age Trail, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Reconnect, Trail Improvement Days

Please stay tuned. Registration will open soon for the Jerry Lake Segment project in Taylor County, July 7 – 10, including additional large-scale projects scheduled for July through October. 

See our full schedule upcoming events here: 2021 Reconnect Events.

Generous Sponsors of the 2021 Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Season include:

Duluth Trading Company REI