Mosquito Hill Nature Center staff and supporters have something to cheer about. Their All People’s Trail that was three years in the making is now complete. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place June 11 at the head of the trail with Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson welcoming the crowd. Friends of Mosquito Hill members stood ready as MHNC Director Mike Hibbard cut the tape and Outagamie County Parks Director Chris Brandt looked on.
Nelson said he was glad to see the full support of the community behind this project and said it was all those donations of time and resources that made this a reality. “In these economic times, it is events like this that make my job fulfilling. Seeing communities and individuals come together to accomplish a worthwhile project like this is refreshing,” said Nelson.
Hibbard said he was happy to now have a trail that is handicapped accessible so that the nature center could accommodate all school groups and members of the public who could not otherwise get around at the nature center. He had a long list of people to thank for their contributions. He was appreciative of the talents people brought to the table, and of the volunteerism within the Friends group and the staff at the nature center.
Three Eagle Scout projects were accomplished throughout the construction of the trail, including eight handicapped picnic tables, 12 Leopold benches and 30 prairie ID signs.
A Friend of Mosquito Hill, Pete Nagan took a group of observers to see the new trial. He explained that 130 species of plant life were planted by hand in the prairie.
Nagan stopped at the first item of interest, a beehive. Donated by a local beekeeper, two hives were full of activity. A screened panel stood in front of the display as a safety net for onlookers, while an electric fence ran behind the hives, to stave off any curious bears.
As the trail meandered down to the lowlands, with prairie on one side and woods on the other, Nagan explained that some of the lowland trails still had standing water on them from the heavy rains this spring. The lowland forest encompasses 300 acres, and most of it is only accessible during the winter time, on snowshoes. The new All People’s Trail skirts the northernmost part of the lowland forest.
New to the trail since last year are several resin benches and a shelter with three new benches resting inside, perfect for small school groups or families to utilize.
The Frog Pond came up next. It is a man-made pond used for studying amphibians. New interpretive signs explain many facets of the pond to the public. Blending in with the pathway of the All People’s Trail are new board planks from the trail to the dock that make these entire offerings wheelchair accessible.
The trail was well thought out. There is an intersection designed at one point where a tractor can pass over the trail without compromising it. Nagan explained that the weight of the tractor used for hayrides at the fall harvest festival would be too much for the trail had they not reinforced it with more asphalt.
John Huppler of Neenah was in the group, with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. He was using one of two motorized scooters available at the nature center. At 95 years old, Huppler has seen Mosquito Hill develop into the nature center it is today. “We started coming here years ago because Winnebago County didn’t have a nature center, and we wanted to see the birds,” said Huppler. And see them he did. The former chief engineer at Kimberly Clark has traveled the world through, seeing one-third of all the birds in the world. After touring 72 countries, he still counts Wisconsin’s habitats as one of his favorites. Huppler donated to the All People’s Trail in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth, his partner in birding.
“I’m happy to see the trail finished,” said Huppler. “It’s nice to be able to get around on it.”