Ice Age National Scenic Trail: Trail Stewardship Notebook

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail (NST) is a thousand-mile footpath highlighting Wisconsin’s renowned Ice Age heritage and scenic beauty. The Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) and its partners can shape users’ experiences. As stewards of the land and the Trail, we can help users develop a connection with the land and create a sense of wonder — even pique their curiosity enough to further explore the Trail.

by Ice Age Trail Alliance

Close your eyes and think of your favorite Ice Age Trail segment. Imagine walking on it right now. What do you see? Where is your attention focused? Why? Are you envisioning a great panoramic view, a small woodland lake, a tranquil stream, or waves of prairie grasses and flowers? Why do these images stick in your head? The land may have been protected or the Trail may have been laid out to highlight these wonderful features, but your experience may also be attributed to vegetative management activities that opened a view or restored a long-lost habitat.

The key difference between this notebook and other land stewardship guides is that this notebook focuses on the land from the standpoint of the Ice Age NST — “from the Trail, outward.” We consider the aesthetics and the ecological ramifications of vegetative management, primarily from the Trail user’s perspective.

There are not enough resources to manage vegetation on all Trail lands. When deciding on whether or not to perform vegetation management activities, or determining how aggressively to attack a project, consider other Trail responsibilities, the amount of resources, and the amount of resources available to do the job effectively and sustainably. Successful vegetation stewardship projects begin with proper planning, buy-in from Ice Age Trail partners, a strong dedication to see the project through, and a commitment to long-term maintenance needs.

The Wisconsin glaciation left behind the building blocks — the canvas — on which the vegetation provides color and interest. By design and intent, the Trail brings humans into direct contact with the land. We have both an obligation to care for the land it traverses and a responsibility to interpret the land for users of the Trail. This book will help land stewards to make decisions regarding land stewardship activities. It provides guidance about basic vegetative stewardship techniques and lays out important safety protocols.

Attached document published October 2011

About the Author


The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a volunteer- and member-based non-profit organization that protects, promotes, builds, and maintains the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a thousand mile footpath featuring Wisconsin glaciation. Ice Age Trail Alliance staff and volunteers work cooperatively with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, local governments, businesses and private landowners to shape the Ice Age Trail into one of the premier hiking trails in the United States. The organization is made up of 21 statewide chapters— each coordinated by volunteers. There are thousands of members and active volunteers coordinated by only a handful of staff members.

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