By guest contributor Amy Onofrey
A prefect autumn day paired with a celebration brought community members to the Merrimac Ferry Wayside Park to dedicate a new Ice Age National Scenic Trail exhibit. The six-panel permanent exhibit tells the story of the Ice Age Trail – what it is, where to find it, how to use it, and ways to become involved.
National Park Service Superintendent Eric Gabriel, Madison Office, explained the origins of the national trail system and the Ice Age Trail, one of only 11 national scenic trails in the country. The 1,000 mile footpath is entirely within Wisconsin. Gabriel highlighted the efforts of statewide trail volunteers, noting that in 2018, 2,620 volunteers logged 82,000 volunteer hours statewide, an impressive feat.
Ice Age Trail Alliance Field Operations Coordinator Alaina Dedo, Cross Plains, said it took many parties to execute this project. She thanked the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for approving the site. In 2018, about 240,000 vehicles were transported by the Merrimac Ferry. The location, along the vehicle lanes, is ideal for increasing visibility of this tourism, geologic and recreational gem. She also thanked Buchanan’s Mowing and Maintenance and JLS Construction Services, both of Lodi, for installing the exhibit.
Lodi Alderperson and Trail Landowner/Partner Ann Groves-Lloyd told the story of her family’s partnership with the Trail. In 2009, the Groves family donated a 175-acre conservation easement on their family farm, which is now known as the Ice Age Trail’s Fern Glen Segment. Groves-Lloyd stated the family wanted to preserve the area for future generations to enjoy.
State Representative Dave Considine, Baraboo, recounted his personal experiences walking the Trail and becoming involved with the Ice Age Trail Alliance. He said locally we are fortunate to host some of the most unique and well-used segments of the Trail: Baraboo, Devil’s Lake, Merrimac, Gibraltar Rock, and Fern Glen.
The city of Lodi was noted for its role as an “Ice Age Trail Community” a collaborative relationship between the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the community; each entity is committed to promoting one another through joint efforts. Lodi is one of twelve communities statewide with this special designation.