Ice Age Trail Alliance


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View a PDF file of this report.


The Ice Age Trail Alliance appreciates the Dane County Environmental Council’s support of the Alliance’s prairie and savanna restoration efforts on the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail. We were able to leverage the Council’s $1,000 contribution with additional grant funds from the Wisconsin DNR’s Landowner Incentive Program and with dozens of hours of volunteer time.

The Council’s funds were used to pay a contractor (Integrated Restoration, Inc.) to clear woody invasives under a goat prairie and savanna on the Alliance’s Holmes Preserve. We are happy to report that nearly all of the woody invasives in the project area were cut, treated with herbicide and burned the week of November 17th, 2014. Follow-up work efforts are planned for spring/summer 2015 both by the contactor to foliar spray re-sprouts and by volunteers to treat herbaceous invasive species.

Furthermore, we are happy to report that our contractor discovered the presence of a species of special concern, Juglans cinerea, Butternut (aka Butternut White Walnut). With this knowledge, we will to adapt our manage strategies to better preserve this species.

We have attached three photos of the site taken during the work project. If other pictures of the area are desired during the growing season, we can provide more upon request.

Respectfully Submitted,
Kevin Thusius
Director of Land Conservation

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Visit Ice Age Trail Allliance website at iceagetrail.org


  • View of contractor in savanna areas and southwest aspect. Photo taken while facing northwest.
  • View from the overlook facing southeast over Village of Cross Plains.
  • Facing southeast toward overlook.
  • View of rock face, facing northeast…four year old boy for scale.

The goals of this project are to create an exceptional user experience along the Cross Plains Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and to provide a rare habitat for herptiles. This will be accomplished by constructing a spur trail from the Ice Age Trail and removing invasives species along rock outcroppings and the surrounding steep slopes.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance, in partnership with the Village of Cross Plains, made great strides toward reaching our goals. We hired a restoration contractor to remove invasive brush along rock outcroppings and a remnant prairie/savanna habitat on the Village’s Hickory Hill Preserve. The extremely steeps slopes and slippery footing on loose rocks made it a slow moving project, but one that is best handled by professionals. Integrated Restoration, Inc. did a very nice job on the project as evidenced from the images below. More reptile habitat and rare plants were discovered than were previous known in the restoration area. The new rock outcropping has already elicited interest from local landowners. Furthermore, the partners have begun trail layout for the spur trail to the overlook. Once the layout is completed, and compliance ensure, construction will begin.

The overall project is not complete in its entirety. Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers will work on expanding the restoration area up to and onto private adjacent lands. Furthermore, with the opening of the land to sunlight, a flush of invasive species is expected and will have to be controlled through chemical and mechanical means. Lastly, the Alliance and our partners at the Village will complete layout and construct a spur trail to the overlook.

Throughout Dane County and the state of Wisconsin, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail permits the exploration and enjoyment of Wisconsin’s natural resources. Interpreting landscapes of glacial history, the trail represents both a conservation and recreation project. The care and management of Trail lands influences users’ perspectives. This land stewardship project will open the trail corridor for rather expansive views. Ice Age Trail Alliance staff and volunteers commit significant time and energy to stewarding and maintaining the lands on which the Ice Age Trail is found. The IATA-Dane County Chapter provides the volunteer capacity to maintain the trail and steward the land in Dane County.

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Summary: Springfield Hill Land Stewardship and Trail Development

Matt Kaufmann – matt@iceagetrail.org - 608-798-4453

The need addressed by this project is providing access to public lands where the Ice Age Trail is a primary intended use. The Springfield Hill property includes impressive vistas to the south and west, mature oak woodlands, and also remnant oak savanna and prairie, and the property provides recreational opportunities like snowshoeing and cross country skiing when feasible, hiking and birding. This project included land stewardship and identifying a trail corridor. The stewardship zone widens on this property to permit future trail users a broader perspective of the landscape.

Project goals involved vegetative management activities to eradicate invasive species within the project area. The objective was to begin restoration efforts on savanna areas and identify a potential trail corridor. Land restoration on this property will greatly increase trail user enjoyment following trail construction of approximately 1.5 miles of new Ice Age Trail. The conservation of Dane County’s natural resources found on the Springfield Hill property increases trail user experiences. The educational value of the Ice Age Trail allows for interpretation of the landscape and in turn an appreciation for the natural areas of Dane County.

The Dane County Chapter conducted several trail stewardship events to date. In March of 2013, a Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) volunteer project involved thirty-six volunteers braving brisk north winds. Volunteers turned the tables on Wisconsin’s most known invasive plants. At this MSC project, 302 hours of service launched the development of a new segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Volunteers eradicated scores of invasive buckthorn, honeysuckle, prickly ash and red cedar through corridor clearing and stewarding a steep, slippery hillside and furthermore stacked a dozen large brush piles for follow-up burning.

Throughout Dane County and the state of Wisconsin, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail permits the exploration and enjoyment of Wisconsin’s natural resources. Interpreting landscapes of glacial history, the trail represents both a conservation and recreation project. The care and management of Trail lands influences users’ perspectives. This land stewardship project began to open the trail corridor and aid in the process of trail layout and design of a 1.5-mile segment of the Ice Age Trail. Ice Age Trail Alliance staff and volunteers commit significant time and energy to stewarding and maintaining the lands on which the Ice Age Trail is found. The IATA-Dane County Chapter provides the volunteer capacity to maintain the trail and steward the land on the Springfield Hill property.

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Statement of Need - We were granted $1428 to purchase trail building and restoration hand tools to build new Ice Age Trail in Dane County and to perform maintenance and restoration work on existing trail. Our chapter’s old tools used for these tasks in the past were in poor condition or non-functional. The multiple work outings that our chapter schedules which may include several dozen volunteers required new, more serviceable tools for safety and efficiency.

Project Goals - This year, our chapter planned almost 100 group work outings to build new Ice Age Trail, maintain old trail corridors, and continue several multi-year restoration projects on the lands through which the trail passes. In keeping with the DCEC’s goals of doing "conservation projects that enhance Dane County's natural resources and benefit Dane County residents", these projects were all in Dane County, including three county parks (Prairie Moraine, Badger Prairie, and Indian Lake). Approximately 25 miles of Ice Age Trail in Dane County is currently built, with plans ultimately to have about 50 miles.

Work Accomplished - Our budget called for purchase of 32 inch Loppers, Replacement blades for bow saws, Pick-Mattocks and McLeod Rakes, and plastic buckets for dirt removal. All of these items were purchased shortly after the grant was awarded (with the exception of the buckets), and put to use quickly. Trail re-routes and new construction were done in Verona, Cross Plains, "Table Bluff" (north of Cross Plains) and Brooklyn. Large restoration projects were done in numerous places including Verona’s Prairie Moraine County Park, Valley View preserve (just west of Verona), Table Bluff, Indian Lake County Park, Lodi Marsh State Wildlife Area. All of these areas have segments of the Ice Age Trail on the and are open to hikers. The new tools were a great asset to have for ease of use and safety, and benefitted the many volunteers. Several restoration projects were done as part of the United Way “Day of Caring” in late August and included as many as 50 participants.

Outcomes/Impacts - The Ice Age Trail in Dane County is only about 50% completed at this point, and will take as much as another decade to finish. The trail building, maintenance, and corridor restoration are ongoing projects with a strong commitment on our part to see them through. The numerous hikers and trail users, mostly from the local communities in Dane County along the trail are the main beneficiaries of this work. The quality of the trail hiking experience is greatly enhanced by quality tread, and well restored prairies and woodlands along it.

David Lonsdorf
Chapter Coordinator
1717 Beach Road
Verona, WI 53593
Phone: (608) 845-6437


The goal of this ongoing project is to create an exceptional user experience along the Cross Plains Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This will be accomplished by constructing a new portion of the Ice Age Trail and loop trail and re-creating pre-settlement habitats for appreciation and interpretation. Specifically, this goal and these objectives will be or have been accomplished in the following manner.

Volunteers from the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) and the Village of Cross Plains (Village) staff have spent hundreds of hours cutting, treating and removing undesirable trees and shrubs from the edge between the agricultural field and the savanna area. In July 2009, 190 volunteers contributed over 2,400 volunteer hours building a segment of the Ice Age Trail, an associated loop trail, and removing invasive species (see attached map).

The Dane County Environmental Council’s Capital Equipment Grant was used to help restore the savanna by clearing invasive brush from the understory. In fall, 2009, the IATA hired a company to perform forestry mowing duties on the property. This is done with a specially equipped Bobcat-style machine with a mowing blade. It saved our organization hundreds of volunteer hours and years of time. In addition, the quick change in habitat excited trail users and area residents making them more interested in help with ongoing maintenance.

Usership of the property has increased greatly since the forestry mowing was done, and the Ice Age Trail/loop trail was constructed. There have been several group outings on the property: the Natural Heritage Land Trust, who hold an easement on the property, a Mothers Day bird hike and Ice Age Trail events. Many people, especially area residents, continue to use and become more enthusiastic supporters of the property.

What’s next for the area? A prescribed burn is planned in the savanna for spring 2010 to help suppress invasive species. Both IATA volunteers and the Village staff will assist in this process. Furthermore, in late 2010, two existing adjacent agricultural fields will be converted to approximately 26-acres of prairie with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The combination of the two habitats will enhance the user experience, as well as benefit the flora and fauna associated with these rare and disappearing habitat types. Once the prairie has been planted, the loop trail will be opened and signed which will further increase usage.

Rebecca R. Hildebrandt
Director of Development
Ice Age Trail Alliance
2110 Main Street
Cross Plains, WI 53528
Phone: 800-227-0046 or (608) 963-3896
Fax: (608) 798-4460

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View a PDF map of this work site.

Visit Ice Age Trail Allliance website at iceagetrail.org