36 Acres to be added to Gibraltar Rock SNA!
MADISON – The state of Wisconsin will buy 36 acres of land beneath the iconic Gibraltar Rock in Columbia County for the Ice Age Trail and other recreational opportunities.
The state Natural Resources Board late last month approved the Department of Natural Resources’ request to buy the land, which is about five miles northwest of Lodi and is next to Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area.
The land features woods, grassland, prairies and a large leatherleaf bog that’s home to endangered plant species, and buying it would allow development and maintenance of the Ice Age Trail and other hiking trails. It also would provide more recreational opportunities and would protect a rare bog, according to Dick Steffes, DNR real estate chief.
Several speakers appeared at the board’s Oct. 24 meeting in Madison in support of the purchase. “This is one of the gems along the entire trail,” said Kevin Thusius of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. “It’s historically, geologically and recreationally significant.” He said the land was an important connection “to get us safely down from the top of the rock to the bottom,” and said that the Alliance was willing and able to develop trails on the area.
Dean Schwarz, chair of the Town of West Point, said the land was important to people in the area. “This is the best use for this piece of land,” he said. “There is so much pride in this community for this rock…It’s basically our cathedral.”
Schwarz also told board members that having the land as part of the Ice Age Trail “is the best use for this land” and would benefit the economies of the town, Lodi, and Sauk and Columbia counties. “People are starting to embrace the idea of this Ice Age Trail and this property,” he said.
DNR will pay $166,000 in Stewardship funds and use $166,000 in Federal Land and Water Conservation funding to buy the 36 acres for the Ice Age Trail segment.
The Ice Age Trail is a 1,000 mile trail through much of Wisconsin that promotes public awareness and appreciation of the state’s glacial heritage and preserves and protects significant glacial features and other natural and cultural features associated with the last glaciation, which ended more than 10,000 years ago.
The trail is a cooperative project between DNR, the U.S. National Park Service, the Ice Age Trail Alliances and its various volunteer groups around the state and the counties through which the trail runs. So far, 640 miles of trail is developed and open to the public, with 250 of those on state-owned land.
* photo by Skillet Creek Media