Getting on the Ice Age Trail Has Never Been Easier (or More Fun!)

What a year the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) has had! The nonprofit alliance, whose mission is to create, support, and protect the thousand-mile footpath tracing Ice Age formations across Wisconsin, has broken its record for the most land acquisitions ever in a single year.  In 2012, 16 new properties were protected, which includes 929 acres of land and 5 miles of trail. As Kevin Thusius, the Director of Land Conservation at IATA, said “pretty much every corner of the trail got some protection.”

New horizons are also ahead for the Alliance as registration is now open for their 2013 Mobile Skills Crew events. These are fun and rewarding events at which volunteers help build and maintain trails. Mobile Skills Crew opportunities offer a chance to give back to the outdoors while spending quality time within it. Previous trail construction background is not required and scheduling is extremely flexible.

GWC's Mike and IATA's Mike both build trail during a Mobile Skills Crew event

GWC Executive Director Mike Strigel building trail along side IATA Executive Director Mike Wollmer at a Mobile Skills Crew event in Polk County.

Exciting new research findings about the Ice Age Trail are also soon to be unveiled! Over the past year the Alliance, along with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and other partners, have been looking into how the public sees the Ice Age Trail. Along with input from a trail user survey, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater interviewed users out on the Trail and polled businesses near the Trail in order to understand what people seek when they take to the Ice Age Trail. These findings will be helpful in the future to develop more effective promotions, provide guidance in creating outreach programs, and inform publications that come out of the main office.

With all of these exciting endeavors the organization is growing and adding a new Trail Program Specialist position. The Trail Program Specialist will work collaboratively with staff, volunteers, government agencies, and private partners to sustain and increase the IATA’s organizational capacity to execute high quality on-the-ground construction and maintenance of the Ice Age Trail.

All things considered 2013 looks like it will be another outstanding year for Wisconsin’s own National Scenic Trail.