Possible extension to Ice Age Trail in Chippewa County - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Possible extension to Ice Age Trail in Chippewa County

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Cornell (WQOW) - Saturday the public weighed in on a proposed plan to extend parts of a state trail through private property in Chippewa County.

Mary Tano, from the National Park Service, said, "It's a small trail, it's a foot path. It's not an ATV trail or snowmobile trail. We spent 10 years educating the public about the project. And, I think the more people learned, the less concern they had."

A proposed foot trail extension on part of the 1,200 mile, Ice Age Trail, is once again on the table. Tano said, "What they're based on, we were trying to connect glacial features."

The National Park Service and Wisconsin DNR are seeking private land owners to take part in a 22 to 25 mile proposed extension to its existing trail in Chippewa County.

Tano said, "There are about already 23 miles of trail already on the ground, off-road, which is the big part because we're trying to get the rest of the trail off-road. Statewide there's 1,200 miles, only 640 miles of that is off-road at this time."

Art Lieb, a property owner in Cornell, said, "It would be a benefit (to me) because I would be able to access the trail, and you know, do some hiking right out of my backyard, and then there'd be some improvements to the property."

Tano said, "Total number of landowners in this corridor is 450, but maybe 70 land owners, 80 land owners may be affected if they choose to work with us."

But, there are some who are skeptical about having hikers so close.

Tano said, “There are concerns whether we were here to take property.”

Lieb said, "Well, the only downfall would be is if the trail is too close to the house"

While the proposed plans are still far from finished, staffs feel they're gradually gaining the community's support.

Tano said, "I think at this meeting, people are starting to understand that they're in control that the park services aren't going to condemn property, the DNR isn't going to condemn property."

The National Park Service said there are still a number of steps it has to take before anything can begin. They hope to have the trails approved by sometime next year.

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