Hikers on the Ice Age Trail, which has benefitted from Knowles-Nelson funding.

Stewardship Program is crucial to Ice Age Trail

Re-passage of Knowles-Nelson will help create more trail connections and increased visitation.

In an opinion piece for the Wisconsin State Journal, hiker and Ice Age Trail volunteer Ashley Wille urges fellow readers to support reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

The Ice Age Trail “is maintained solely by volunteers, so donations and funding are vital to its existence,” Wille writes. “The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund is essential in how the Ice Age Trail Alliance has acquired new land…. With the renewal of the fund, the alliance could get the financial help to continue acquiring new land to better connect segments of the trail.”

She notes that improving trail connections could bring even more visitors to the Ice Age Trail, benefitting Wisconsin businesses. Trail visitation surged during the pandemic, with the Ice Age Trail Alliance seeing a 53% increase in memberships over 2019.

In addition to the economic benefits of the Ice Age Trail and other Knowles-Nelson projects, Wille believes that “overall, folks deserve to have places to explore, decompress, reconnect with nature and be active.” She concludes with a call to action: “Please reach out to state and local representatives and tell them why the fund is important to you and Wisconsin.”

Featured image by clare_and_ben, 2008.

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