Protection site

Ice Age Trail marks most successful year for land protection in 30 years

CITY OF DANE, Wisconsin (WMTV) – The National Ice Age Scenic Trail ends the year by adding an additional 40.1 acres of land to its permanently protected properties.

The latest land acquisition is in the town of Dane and adjacent to the Lodi Marsh State Wildlife Sanctuary.

Mike Wollmer, executive director of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, says it can be difficult to acquire property in a densely populated county like Dane.

“Acquiring land can be a bit difficult,” Wollmer said. “This is a pretty good size property for us. Often times when you enter real populated areas you are bound either by some development or by private property.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance says the new property will provide at least a half-mile of new trail and much-needed area for camping.

“A property like this won’t have public access for a few years until we get to know the terrain better,” Wollmer said.

Wollmer says the organization is fortunate to have seen such growth in its land acquisitions. He believes the pandemic has pushed more people outside to explore resources like the Ice Age Trail.

He adds that membership increased by 45% in 2021 and estimates that trail use has doubled in the past 18 months.

“I think we have a new generation of young people who enjoy the outdoors,” Wollmer said. “I think things like the Ice Age Trail and other outdoor resources are becoming more and more important.”

Gary Werner, Ice Age Trail Alliance land stewardship coordinator and volunteer, says he’s noticed more and more people are connecting with nature by volunteering their time.

“In the last 18 months of the pandemic, we’ve not only seen a huge increase in the number of people using the Ice Age Trail,” Werner said. “We have also seen a tremendous increase in the number of volunteers who come to help. “

Werner spoke at a press conference in November to announce the acquisition of land by Dane County for use of the Ice Age Trail.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Ice Age Trail Alliance or learning more about the expansion project, click HERE to find a chapter near you.

Over the past 15 years, the Ice Age Trail Alliance estimates it has added approximately 200 miles of trails. Currently there are 675 miles of hiking trails open to the public.

Copyright 2021 WMTV. All rights reserved.