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January 22, 2014

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on proposed corridors for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Marquette County at three upcoming open house meetings.

The National Park Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Ice Age Trail Alliance are holding the open houses to present alternative corridors for the trail, and to seek input and comments from county landowners and residents. There will also be presentations about Marquette County and the Ice Age Trail.

The Ice Age Trail was authorized as a National Scenic Trail by Congress in 1980 and a State Scenic Trail in 1987. When completed, the trail will meander over 1,200 miles through some of the finest glacial scenery in Wisconsin providing day walkers, backpackers, school children, and general outdoor enthusiasts with a premier hiking and educational experience. Today, approximately half of the trail is built.

To complete the trail, the NPS, DNR, and Ice Age Trail Alliance are working with county and local units of government, interested organizations and citizens, and landowners to establish a permanent route throughout the state, including Marquette County.

During the open house meetings, maps and aerial photos will be on display for review and comment. Representatives from the three organizations will be available to answer questions and explain each partner's role in the Ice Age Trail project. Presentations to explain the location of the alternative corridors will be given at each meeting along with a presentation on a special topic. The open house meetings will be held:

The purpose of the Corridor Planning Process is to determine a general route for the trail and actively involve the public in this decision making process. In 2012, the planning team conducted field surveys to identify and map features of outstanding geologic, biologic, cultural, and scenic significance to the trail and then defined wide areas that encompass these features. In May 2013, the partners held scoping meetings for the public and local officials to provide information about the Ice Age Trail and obtain input. Since that time, the planning team has created three possible alternative corridors for the trail based on significant features, trail user needs, and the input received during the public comment phase last spring.

After obtaining public comments and suggestions, the partners will analyze the alternatives and develop one preferred alternative that is approximately 2-5 miles wide with possible route options. This preferred alternative may be a refinement of one of the alternatives or some combination of the three, depending on information we receive during this public comment phase.

This will be followed by a final series of meetings for landowners and public officials to present the recommendations and the Draft Marquette County Corridor Plan and Environmental Assessment for review and comment. The Ice Age NST Corridor Planning Process for Marquette County is expected to conclude in 2015.

All participation in the Ice Age Trail is voluntary. For landowners who are interested in allowing the Ice Age NST passage across their lands, the partners can work with them either by direct purchase (fee simple or conservation easements) or through handshake agreements. Lands purchased for the Ice Age NST by public agencies or non-profit organizations may be eligible for funding assistance under the Wisconsin State Stewardship Program and Federal grant programs. The partners do not want to acquire all of the land within the corridor. The intention is to acquire an approximate 50-1,000 foot wide trail way for the Ice Age Trail. In some areas, more land may be desired to preserve outstanding resource features or to accommodate the wishes of the landowner. This width of trail way provides for a high quality hiking experience for the public while maintaining a buffer for neighboring landowners. All land transactions are made on a willing-seller basis only.

More information is available on the NPS website (exit DNR), DNR website (search Ice Age Trail), and Ice Age Trail Alliance website (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brigit Brown, DNR 608-266-2180, NPS 608-441-5610 or Paul Holtan, Public affairs manager, 608-267-7517

Last Revised: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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