Chapter Annual Membership Meeting Reports

Several reports were presented at the annual meeting. Some have been updated as a result of input at the meeting. 


REPORT OF 2020 ACTIVITIES

After a successful start with the Snowshoe Hike at the beginning of February, things began to go downhill fast. As a result of Covid, only one chapter activity has been held other than trail maintenance. In July, an extremely successful chapter picnic was held at Millyard Park in Cornell, organized by Nancy and Tony Schuster and highlighted by a contingent of IATA staff and the IATA board president. They came to present the Alliance’s annual Spirit Stick Award to long-time chair and coordinator Richard Smith.

Fortunately, by late spring, we were authorized to begin volunteer work under a new VIP scheme. See the Report of Trail Maintenance and Stewardship Activities for details on the significant activity led by Jerry Sazama and volunteers, working under unique conditions. A tool garage upgrade, detours and bridge repairs, and trail relocations due to flooding kept the crew busy. Volunteers even traveled to Rusk County to assist, and later when our help was sought for trail construction in Irvine Park, volunteers joined that project.

The new realities of sharing a segment of the trail with the horse riders were gracefully handled by Dave Lundberg, who worked with the local user group to fine-tune concern and sign the route to provide information to both types of users.

Sadly, we offered no public hikes, and while we provided planning information to numerous hikers by phone, the number of hikers shuttled was minimal. 

The year began with putting the final touches on welcoming Cornell as an official Ice Age Trail Community. The Mammoth 40 Challenge project scheduled for October provided the Trail Community committee led by Vicki Christianson with a mammoth task to document trail and community features and load them into the self-guiding Strive-On smartphone app. The app provides hikers with literally spot-on interpretive information about what they are looking at throughout the eastern 2/3rds of the trail in the county. To cap it off, a remarkable number of people accepted the challenge and chose to visit Cornell and hike the nearby IAT. That was a continuation of the high level of trail use observed this season, well over prior years if the number of trailside maps distributed is any indication.

Although the Obey Interpretive Center remained closed for most of the year, the public came anyway and continued to use the location as a launch-point for hikes. We could not provide the hiking guides, apparel, and souvenirs that we usually do, however. 

It is one of the year's ironies that the pandemic shut down most of our traditional activities that try to engage the public and promote use of the trail, yet trail use was probably higher than it has ever been. 

Finally, 2020 was a transition year, with new procedures and realities blending with recruiting and transitioning from two long-serving chapter leaders to new leaders with fresh ideas.


REPORT OF PREVIOUS YEARS MAINTENANCE AND STEWARDSHIP ACTIVITIES

The Covid situation had a major impact on these activities for the 2020 trail season necessitating smaller crews and the need for V.A. forms to be sent in to Dan Watson.  In addition, rising lake levels were issues at Firth Lake, Picnic Lake and Horseshoe Lake.  Activities--from east to west were:

 1.  Firth Lake.  A portion of the boardwalk will be repaired starting this Monday and concluding Tuesday.  DNR and Cross Plains approvals of the work have been obtained as well as approval for purchase of some of the materials.  The Firth Lake repairs were completed by Bruce and his crew to sections on the east side.  Repairs will be continued on the rest in 2021.

 2.  Sites for potential D.C.A. have been explored in the Firth Lake area (all current D.C.A. sites are located west of County E).  Cross Plains is being kept informed and has provided some input.

 3.  Picnic Lake.  Rising water levels has resulted in trail reroutes on the east and south shores of the lake.  In addition, two different extensions of the Kendall bridge were made necessary.  Adjoining landowners, Cross Plains and the Girl Scouts have been kept updated.

 4.  Five additional tent platforms at Camp Nawakwa were dismantled and the usable lumber transported to the Chapter Garage.  Camp Nawakwa personnel assisted in this.

 5.  Chippewa Valley Horse Riders have widened and signed the shared use of the IAT east of Deer Fly Trail.  Chapter members have walked the route and found their work well done.  

 6.  The County removed the existing bridge at Kim's Crossing and filled in the gully at that point. The County intends to use the troad for future timber operations and has provided us with maps of the same.  The County advises the trail should be open to hikers during timber operations (which are expected to occur in fall of 2021). The County also moved the bridge parts to the Chapter Garage.  A new bench has been built (with "Kim's Crossing" being routed on same) and installed at the crossing.

 7.  Smaller trail repairs (caused by water damage) were made just west of Deer Fly Trail and just east of the Harwood Lakes D.C.A.

 8.  The Horseshoe Lake boardwalk is underwater (has been for some time---but now is just further underwater than before).  Rod Gont constructed a reroute around that crossing and the Chapter is in the process of removing the underwater crossing (with approval of Cross Plains and the DNR). One section of the Horseshoe Lake crossing was removed.  Three more to be removed in 2021.

 9.  The Chapter Garage has been in sad repair for a number of years.  The concrete floor (caved in portions) have been replaced.  The side door was replaced with a steel door with locks and bolts.  The equipment in the Garage is now better organized and stored.  In addition, the lumber inventory shed (attached to the north side of the nearby DNR garage has been redone--new shelving and more organized lumber sorting). Storm water concerns at the Chapter garage have been addressed.  No further water observed.

 10.  Additional "Private Property" signs have been put up at points where the trail crosses from public land to private land.

 11.  Chapter personnel spent a day helping with maintenance in the Blue Hills section of the IAT.

 12.  Chapter personnel have also spent time working on a walking trail in Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls.  This is a non-Ice Age activity but has provided good trail building experience for our volunteers.  This work should be complete by the end of October of 2020. Phase I of the Glen Loch trail in Irvine park is now hikeable.  Phase 2 is in process and Phase 3 is planned for 2021.  Ice Age volunteers have been helpful in the process.

 13.  Trails have been mowed on a regular basis and tree removal (chain saw) where necessary.

2020 has provided us with a lot of new challenges.  However, I cannot say enough about the incredible attitudes and assistance from the many Chapter volunteers.  We are so very fortunate as a Chapter in this regard.

  

REPORT ON CURRENT TOOL INVENTORY

Tools inventory remains the same as last year.  Some additional hardware has been purchased throughout the trail season.  Budget line items for these could stay the same for 2021 (plus COLA raise).

 

REPORT ON TRAIL CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE AND STEWARDSHIP NEEDS FOR THE COMING YEAR INCLUDING A TENTATIVE TIMELINE AND PROCESS OF SAID NEEDS.

 If lake levels do not continue rising and the Covid situation becomes less of an issue (big "if"):

 1.  Move the sign and trail head at County Z about 20 feet to the west to be on public property.

 2.  Firth Lake.  Continuing repair to the west end of the Firth Lake boardwalk.

 3.  Identify an agreed on D.C.A. site, prepare necessary application forms and begin construction of the D.C.A.

 4.  Continue monitoring horse/hiker shared use trail portiion.

 5. Complete removal of the underwater Horseshoe Lake boardwalk.

 6. Construction and placement of a kiosk at Otter Lake (assuming Cross Plains will have secured necessary funding for the parking area at that site).

 7.  Continue mowing and tree clearing.

 8.  Address any other surprises Mother Nature (and misc. landowners) throw our way.