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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mailbag; Ice Age Trail Information

EXCERPT FROM MAYOR’S COLUMN IN FEBRUARY 15, 2012 REVIEW Ice Age Trail Two weeks ago the National Park Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Rock County, and the Ice Age Trail Alliance held a public information session at Creekside Place. Planning is underway to complete the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Rock County. The Rock County Trail will connect with the Kettle Moraine Trail in Walworth County, include Magnolia Bluff County Park, and extend to Albany, where it will connect with the Sugar River Trail. Corridor options were presented at the open house. Two of the four preliminary options include Evansville. The Ice Age Trail is a National Scenic Trail located entirely within Wisconsin. It is one of only eight National Scenic Trails in the U.S. (The Appalachian Trail is a well-known National Scenic Trail.) When completed, the Ice Age Trail will be about 1,200 miles long. To date, over 600 miles have been completed. The Trail provides mostly off-road hiking and backpacking, with bird watching, magnificent scenery, and wildlife viewing. Some portions of the Trail allow for camping, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. ATVs are prohibited on the Trail. The Trail objectives include following glacial features and moraines, preserving natural glacial features, providing support facilities and interpretive opportunities, and offering varied and scenic hiking experiences, including significant archeological, geological, historical, and cultural sites. The Rock County planning process began in 2006. The information about Evansville used in the development of the corridor options is now outdated. Some updated information was provided at the Creekside meeting and additional material will be submitted shortly. The National Park Service representatives were very interested to know that application has been made to them for listing Leonard Leota Park as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. A copy of the application was supplied to them at the open house. It was also emphasized that there are three current National Register historic districts in Evansville, with more than 300 buildings and structures of historical significance in our community. Our Bird City Wisconsin designation was also of interest to them. The information about Evansville in the corridor report indicated there were no overnight accommodations available. We now have Cobblestone Inn & Suites in our community. We have numerous options for food and refreshments. The Trail is built and maintained by volunteers. I spoke about the strong volunteer network in our community organizations. During the Creekside session, a presentation on the geology of our area was given by UW geologist David Mickelson. The Johnstown Moraine runs east-west just north of Evansville. Mickelson described the Evansville Golf Course as an outstanding visual example of the contours of the terminal moraine. The Park Service is taking public comments until March 15. I encourage citizens to take the time to review the Rock County Alternative Corridors Report. Evansville is part of segment 3 and is included in corridor options C and D. You can make on-line comments at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. Go to Ice Age National Scenic Trail and find the list of documents open for comment. You can also mail comments to: National Park Service; Ice Age National Scenic Trail; 700 Rayovac Drive, Suite 100; Madison WI 53711. Following the comment period, a preferred corridor will be identified and a refined plan developed. There will be two additional public open houses as the planning moves forward. Property for the trail will need to be purchased or easements obtained. It is likely to take up to two years to complete the planning process and begin Trail work. We have great natural assets in the Evansville area, including Gibbs Lake, the Johnstown Moraine, Magnolia Bluff Park, Leonard-Leota Park, and Allen Creek. We value our rich historical resources. We are a community with a strong agricultural tradition; we respect the land and our rural heritage. We have a concentration of Rock County Barn Quilts in the Evansville area. Evansville is the boyhood home and final resting place of renowned American Impressionist Theodore Robinson. Having Evansville located on the Ice Age Trail would be a tremendous amenity for our citizens and would bring visitors to our community, growing our local economy. Your public input is important to support this terrific opportunity.

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