highlights KEVIN THUSIUS, DIRECTOR OF LAND CONSERVATION
Together with our partners, the Ice Age Trail Alliance completed a flurry of large and major acquisitions in 2010—or perhaps we can call it a blizzard, because those acquisitions protected approximately 430 acres of land and more than five miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Take a moment to celebrate the following accomplishments…
#1: Longtime Ice Age Trail Friend Helps Protect Trail…and Forest
It is likely that anyone who has hiked the Ice Age Trail through eastern Taylor County in the last decade has noticed a series of wood-routed interpretive signs. For example, one reads “Clear Cut 2004” so the hiker can see how the land and trees have responded over time. Another reads “Old Tote Road”, indicating an ancient transportation route from Rib Lake to logging camps in the area. But one sign sticks out more than most: “Rusch Tree Farm, Towering Timbers for Public Pleasure”. This gives an accurate synopsis of the land and the landowners. In 2006 the three-and-a-half-mile Ice Age Trail segment between County Highway C and Harper Lake Drive was closed at the request of a private landowner. The absence of the segment was immediately felt by local and visiting Trail users alike. Reopening this segment became a top priority for the Alliance and its partners. To no one’s surprise, the first people to step up were longtime Ice Age Trail supporters, Bob and Ann Rusch of Rib Lake. In late 2009, Bob and Ann Rusch donated half the value of a 160-acre conservation and Ice Age Trail easement over their property in Taylor County. This generous bargain sale will eventually help permanently protect approximately two miles of Ice Age Trail along with the beautiful forests, wetlands and glacial features that are abundant on this wonderful property. Funds from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program were used to purchase the balance of the Rusch easement.
Robert Rusch stands next to his “Towering Timbers” sign. Rusch is proud of his forest management practices, which he hopes will promote old-growth characteristics. Photo by Kevin Thusius.
A short walk will instantly give you an understanding of the sustainable forestry practices Bob and Ann use as they work with the DNR’s Managed Forest Law program, emphasizing “old-growth characteristics”. Walk a bit further and you will notice hand-pruned pines next to perfectly maintained sugar maples and hemlocks, no doubt a labor of love for the Rusch family. And the astute observer will notice a welldefined ridge with adjacent wetlands—a clear indicator of the terminal moraine, which runs through the property. The Rib Lake Snowshoe and Ski Club maintains miles of other trails in the area, including on the Rusch property. However, when the Ice Age Trail is constructed, it will lie mostly off these wide ski paths and flow lightly on the land as it interprets the natural landscape. The Alliance continues to work with neighboring landowners to connect the Ice Age Trail between County Road C and Harper Lake Drive. The Rusch easement is the root from which the rest of the segment will grow. Look for a future Mammoth Tales article about this acquisition and the family that helped make it happen.
MAMMOTH TALES | Spring 2011 | www.iceagetrail.org