Local organizations secure land for future Ice Age Trail in Marathon County

Permanently protected property features wetland forest and shoreline on undeveloped Rice Lake

Forty-one acres in the Town of Reid in Marathon County will one day hold a section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a 1,200-mile hiking path that traces the geology left by the most recent glacier, thanks to the partnership of two Wisconsin conservation organizations.

NCCT Rice LakeThe North Central Conservancy Trust, a Stevens-Point based land trust, sold the property to the Ice Age Trail Alliance, based out of Cross Plains, in early February. The property sits between two existing sections of the Ice Age Trail in Marathon and Portage Counties and will help link the Trail, one of 11 National Scenic Trails, through central Wisconsin.

“This property serves as an anchor point for the Trail in southern Marathon County,” said Kevin Thusius, director of land conservation for the Alliance. “Future Ice Age Trail will give area residents and visitors a unique and interesting outdoor experience, complemented by the natural features the property has to offer.”

The property includes 1,000 feet of shoreline on Rice Lake, a spring-fed, undeveloped marl lake. White cedar forest covers the majority of the property’s acreage and protects the water quality of the lake.

The land was originally gifted in 2011 to preserve these natural features. Claire Pfleger of Milwaukee donated the property as a gift to NCCT, which also retains a conservation easement that further protects the property from development.

The proceeds from the sale will go toward furthering the NCCT’s conservation work in central Wisconsin. Upon learning of the purchase, the Town of Reid and Marathon County both passed resolutions in support of the acquisition. The Ice Age Trail Alliance purchased the property using funds from the state Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, which protects the state’s most valuable natural areas and expands opportunities for outdoor recreation.

“In addition to protecting the shoreline and wetland forests, the property will be open to the public, guaranteeing the public enjoyment of this beautiful place for years to come,” said NCCT Executive Director Betsy Kerlin. “I am thankful to the Ice Age Trail Alliance for the opportunity to collaborate on this project.”

NCCT IATA GroupThe North Central Conservancy Trust works to protect scenic working lands and environmental resources for the benefit of the people of central Wisconsin. The North Central Conservancy Trust has preserved over 3,000 acres in eight counties. Learn more at ncctwi.org.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a nonprofit volunteer- and member-based organization established in 1958 that works to build, maintain and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is a thousand-mile footpath that highlights Wisconsin’s world-renowned Ice Age heritage and natural resources. Visit iceagetrail.org to learn more.

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