Timeline for the Portage County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail


Portage County Ice Age Trail Chapter formed


Received permission to put the Ice Age Trail through the Emmons Creek Fisheries property


Proposed and developed the Ice Age Bicycle Routes on low traveled roads from South to North, often on Cty "A" within Portage County


Added another part of the Ice Age Trail north of 2nd Avenue, 50’ easement


Dedication of the Ice Age Trail within the Emmon’s Creek Fisheries to 2nd Avenue at the Emmon’s Creek bridge


First joined Hike-a-Thon with Waupaca County


Wendell Krogwold sought permission from his neighbors (Iola Ski Hill through the Town of New Hope) for the Ice Age Trail


Development of the Iola Ski Hill/New Hope Ice Age Trail


A preliminary county inventory was put together for the eastern towns of Portage County


County, NPS, DNR, & IAP&T Fdn. Worked out a corridor plan for Portage/Waupaca Counties for the Ice Age Trail


Portage/Waupaca County Ice Age Trail Corridor Plan was approved by both Waupaca & Portage County Park Commissions and the DNR state board (This occurred after there were 3 landowner open houses for comments)


More money became available from the national & state level for the IAT


Another mile added to the Ice Age Trail in the Town of Belmont and a reroute of the trail in the Town of New Hope


Chapter completed 3 publications on the Ice Age/Fieldtrips/Children-Activities


Completed a 6 postcard project for NC region, started in 2003


Completed connecting www.portagecoiat.org to the internet, started in 2004 by UWSP geography student


Dedication of kiosks at Hartman Creek and Natural Area, creation of panels by Schmeeckle Reserve and installation by Martin Wacker, Chair pictures


The beginning of Trailway Strategic Planning by the IAP&T Fdn.

2008 Completion of the Helen Brachman Bike Loop


There is a continuing effort to purchase permanent easements to complete and protect the Ice Age Trail.


                                                Additional  Notes on  Trail  Development by Bob Welch - May 2016

In 1982, I returned from a job in Alaska to purchase a historical 1856 farm with original house and outbuildings surrounded by relic sand prairies and oak barrens adjacent to Hartman Creek State Park and Emmons Creek State Fisheries Area. Charlotte Sawyer (former owner still residing on the property) and I formed a partnership to establish the Waupaca Biological Field Station in 1985 since in 1974 with permission from Norm, her husband, and Charlotte, we had originally established the Emmons Creek Bird Observatory and Ringing Station on their property for bird conservation and research.
    Between 1984 through 1986 I was hired as the seasonal (April-September) state park naturalist and as a former student and still long-time friend of the Freckmanns met with them to have them help me conduct plant surveys of our prairie and barrens relics. Gary and Doc Werner met with Merle Lang (superintendent of Hartman Creek State Park - HCSP) and me to consider establishing a trail connecting the park to the Emmons Creek State Fisheries Area and areas to the north and south across private lands. Sally and Bob had quickly got involved with the new Portage County IAT chapter and we made plans to scout the landscape with topo maps (no GPS at the time) and compass in hand to layout the proposed trail. Dr. Bob Freckmann, Gary Werner, and I laid out the trail from State Highway 54 south to Second Ave. across a very diverse glacial topography taking into account the best vistas of natural openings and high plant and flower bloom diversity for all to enjoy.
    In 1985, I met with Charlotte Sawyer with the idea of her selling to the state park a 20-acre parcel (Sawyer 20 Oak Parcel) and I met with Ed and John Hart (Attorneys in Waupaca) concerning the sale of 40 acres (Hart 40) to the state park to establish a complete corridor between the park and the fisheries area. Merle Lang was approached to complete the official addition of this 60 acres to the park for this trail purpose and Merle worked with the DNR Parks and Rec Bureau to come up with the monies necessary for these purchases with landowner agreements to sell with the purpose of the trail corridor and no other further developments. I continued to work as the landowner contact/relations person under Sally as the volunteer coordinator on the ground making contacts and planting seeds of ideas for more easements both north and south of the state park. I even assisted Portage County IAT members to approach landowners through the Towns of Scandinavia and Iola area where the IAT crossed back into Waupaca County before the Waupaca County Chapter was formed in 1987.
    Gary and I returned to locate our markers and spend many hours painting the yellow trail markers on the trees where the trail was to be cut. Sally worked with Marty Wacker with Portage County Parks and I worked with Dale and Penny Schaber (Appleton) and Darrel Ruechel (Waupaca) both with Fox Valley Sierra Group to do the grunt work of cutting the trail that entire distance which took several years.
    By 1986 the trail cut was almost complete but an issue was the delay of getting engineers within the DNR to design and install a metal foot bridge across Emmons Creek on the south end of Far Away Valley (formerly the Turner Farm, sold to the DNR to expand the Emmons Creek Fisheries Area). By 1987 an easement was negotiated ands signed to carry the trail south to the Second Ave. and in May the bridge and trail segment was dedicated with all these folks in attendance! The Waupaca County Chapter of the IAT Council was formed in 1987 with the leadership of Darrel Ruechel, Roger Holman, and Debbie Krogwold.
    After leaving the park as the park naturalist, I worked as an assistant wolf biologist as a trapper and med tech between 1987-1989, and eventually was hired as a science teacher for the School District of Waupaca, while still volunteering with the Portage County IAT Chapter for Sally. Sally had me working as the Belmont Township trail monitor from day one and I continued to fill that role until I retired from the chapter. I was blessed to be married in 1996 and my wife and I became a strong team with portable radios and backpacks monitoring the trail and enforcing the laws that applied to the trail, since the trail was now becoming a popular place for mountain bikes, horses, ATVs, and even 4W drive Jeeps! It got messy some years with the damage, the vandalism, the illegal trespass uses of the trail. My wife and I worked directly with the park LE staff, and wardens in both counties to apprehend and cite these persons, which I still do today.  
    By 1990, with the merger of the IAT Council and Foundation into the IAT&P Foundation, Doc and Gary Werner were doing more work in the Madison area and I lost contact with Gary after he lost the IAT State Coordinator position.
    By 1994, after the federal endangered designation of the Karner blue butterfly (KBB) in 1992, and continual misuse of the trail in the park by mountain bikers, a new route was marked and cut to avoid these critical habitat patches where wild lupine and KBB larvae were being crushed by bike traffic. I was working as a consultant to the federal KBB recovery team and DNR habitat conservation plan and worked with the new park superintendent to reroute the trail and reconnect with the Fox Valley Sierra Group to cut the new path. Also worked with Sally and Bob to design each of the panels for the IAT Kiosk and the KBB and Oak Barrens Kiosk (within the Emmons Creek Barrens State Natural Area) and helped stimulate discussion and settle the long argument as to where these two kiosks would be placed (both Portage and Waupaca Counties) to eliminate vandalism in 2005. Greg Dahl (Wildlife Biologist Supervisor-Portage County) and Mike Bergum (HCSP Superintendent-Waupaca County) were instrumental in working together to site these two kiosks in their respective counties.

               FOLKS Involved with the Early Years of the IAT in Portage and Waupaca Counties

Marty Wacker, Portage County Parks and Rec
Merle Lang, past Superintendent, Hartman Creek State Park (retired)
Mike Bergum, current Superintendent, Hartman Creek State Park
Greg Dahl, Area Wildlife Biologist Supervisor (retired)
Gary Werner, Statewide IAT Coordinator
Doc Werner, Board Member, IAT Foundation/ Council
Dale and Penny Schaber of Appleton, Leaders and Volunteers with
Fox Valley Group of the John Muir Chapter Sierra Club (volunteer trail workers)
Darrel Ruechel (formerly of Waupaca and now Appleton, now retired)
Roger Holman and Debbie Krogwold, Waupaca County Parks Department
Robert Welch, State Park Naturalist and Trainer (1984-86), Belmont Segment Monitor (20+ Years - retired from chapter in 2005, married in 1996 and Debra Ann Martin (who also volunteered 1995-2005), my new partner, shared the monitoring until 2005 when we retired together from trail work due to her terminal breast cancer)
Late Charlotte Sawyer, former owner & partner w/ the Waupaca Biological Field Station