The Ice Age National Scenic Trail now runs a little more securely for over a mile through eastern Portage County and western Waupaca County.
The New Hope-Iola Ski Hill Segment of the Ice Age Trail is now permanently protected by a new agreement between the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) and the Iola Winter Sports Club (IWSC). The segment, which overlays cross-country ski trails, has existed on the property for years through a voluntary agreement between the Club and the Portage County Chapter of the IATA.
The IATA recently purchased an easement that will allow permanent public access to the Trail and also permanently preserve the natural qualities of the property. This successful agreement has been over four years in the making.
“Good things take a long time to make right,” said Greg Taylor, a member of the IWSC board.
The purchase of this easement was made possible by the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. The IATA leveraged a previous easement donation from a Columbia County landowner to secure the needed matching funds.
The Iola property is just the latest in a long list of land preservation victories brought about by the Stewardship Fund. The IWSC has enrolled most of their forested acreage in the Wisconsin Managed Forest Program, a Wisconsin DNR program to promote sustainable forestry. Ski trails crisscross the IWSC property, which, unlike the Ice Age Trail, is not open to the public. Not only does it protect the Trail that’s there now; this acquisition also lays the foundation for future Trail nearby.
“This easement helps us set an anchor point for future acquisitions that we hope will permanently protect the Trail in the area,” says Kevin Thusius, IATA Director of Land Conservation.
The Ice Age Trail, one of only eleven National Scenic Trails, is a thousand-mile footpath highlighting Wisconsin’s world-renowned Ice Age heritage and natural resources. The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a non-profit volunteer- and member-based organization established in 1958 that works to create, support, protect and promote the Ice Age Trail. Visit www.iceagetrail.org for more information.