Assessment and Repair of a Trail After Catastrophic Damage

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail

Learn about the evaluation, planning, and action needed to restore a nationally acclaimed trail due to heavy rains that triggered flooding, landslides, and severe damage to a 22-mile segment of a trail.

Presented by:

Event Details

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October 05, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:00 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost: FREE


Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
Learning Credits
are available for this webinar.


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Webinar Outline

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail is a designated National Recreation Trail and is ranked among the top 15 trails in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure magazine. It is considered the first rail-to-trail project in the country. A beloved destination for bicycling enthusiasts in Wisconsin, this 32.5-mile trail boasts three captivating rock tunnels and connects five charming small towns. It now forms part of an extensive 101-mile trail network. Winding through the picturesque landscapes of wetlands, prairies, farmland, and unglaciated areas, the trail provides an immersive outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike, attracting more than 60,000 visitors annually. In 2018, heavy rains triggered flooding, landslides, and severe damage to a 22-mile segment of the trail between the Village of Norwalk and the City of Elroy. This catastrophic event resulted in structural failures and streambank erosion, requiring the closure of the trail until necessary repairs could be made.

In this presentation, attendees will hear about the specific damage to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail caused by the heavy rains and flooding, and learn about the evaluation, planning, and action needed to restore this remarkable recreational resource. The topics covered will include the inspection process, which included a preliminary study and cost estimates for repairs, as well as the development of repair and replacement plans. Additionally, the timeline along with the processes for repairs, funding, permitting, and agency coordination will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • History of the Elroy Sparta Trail and the economic impacts to the surrounding community.
  • Various trail damage that occurred due to flooding events in 2018.
  • The process involved with designing and repairing the trail damage.


This webinar qualifies as a Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) course (via LA CES).

Webinar Resources

  • Elroy Sparta Ribbon Cutting Video
  • Wisconsin DNR Adaptive Equipment

    Webinar Partners


    Bill Biesmann, PE, Senior Business Development and Project Leader, KL Engineering
    Madison, Wisconsin

    Bill Biesmann, PE, is a senior business development and project leader for KL Engineering, Inc. He is a key resource for stormwater management, regulatory compliance, and site development solutions for municipal, state, and private development projects. He brings over 25 years of project management experience with an emphasis on the early identification of challenges involved with design, construction, and stakeholder coordination. Bill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a member of the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association and the North American Stormwater & Erosion Control Association (NASECA) of Wisconsin.


    Andrew Haffele, Superintendent of Wildcat Mountain Work Unit, Bureau of Parks and Recreation Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
    Hillsboro, Wisconsin

    Andy is the Superintendent of the Wildcat Mountain Work Unit in the DNR Bureau of Parks and Recreation Management since 2016. The work unit consists of 4 State Parks and 3 State Trails including the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. Worked as a Park Ranger at Devil’s Lake and Buckhorn State Parks for 8 years prior to promotion to Superintendent at Wildcat Mountain. B.S. degree from University of Wisconsin Stevens Point majoring in Natural Resource Management and minors in environmental law enforcement and conservation biology. Andy lives on a small hobby farm outside of Hillsboro, WI with his wife and 2 young sons.


    Closed Captioning

    We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.

    Learning Credits and CEUs

    American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

    • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
    • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES PDH) (most HSW approved)
    • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) CEU equivalency petition
    • CEU/PDH equivalency petition for other accepting organizations

    Learning credits are free for attendees for American Trails webinars and the International Trails Symposium, as well as for other conferences, webinars, and workshops we offer credits for. Learn more here.


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    5,066 views • posted 08/30/2023