Progress continues for proposed nature trail from Wauzeka to Boscobel
By Ted Pennekamp
A proposed hiking, biking, and cross country skiing trail from Wauzeka to Woodman to Boscobel continues to make progress. Proponents of the trail met recently with the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board and received the board’s support for a trail near the railroad connecting the three municipalities.
Within the past couple of years Roddy Dull and Denise Fisher, members of the Wisconsin River Trail Project Group, have also received approval for the trail from the Crawford County Board of Supervisors as well as villages and towns along the route.
“Our goals are established with a ‘go big or go home’ attitude,” said Fisher, who noted that the project is being accomplished in phases.
The first phase is to finish the Sanders Creek walking/biking trail to the boat landing in Boscobel.
The next goal is to create a hiking/biking trail that leads from Boscobel toward Woodman following, in areas, the railroad trails.
“I have spoken to Kim Tollers, our DOT Rails and Trail representative,” said Fisher. “She said that you can parallel a railroad as long as you’re 51 feet away. This is the way we plan on exiting Boscobel and heading towards Woodman for at least half of the distance. It lessens any need for clearing the way and is a less invasive way of asking someone for easements if it is right beside an already existent railroad.”
Fisher said that the trail project has been accepted as a UW-Platteville Engineering Departments “project” for Fall 2014. “They are planning on helping us design the bike trail, especially and including our Wisconsin River Bridge crossing from Woodman to Wauzeka,” said Fisher. “That stretch is a four-mile stretch, but it is in need of four to seven bridges. Right now, using the railroad crossing, even this time of year, the water isn’t as high as you’d think. Our exciting part of crossing here is that we want to make it ADA accessible so that others in wheelchairs can have the same view as everyone else, and hopefully be able to do a little fishing from a small dock or two.”
Fisher said that UW-Platteville will complete a report that details the exact amount of money that is needed.
This four-mile stretch will be the biggest feat and most exciting segment of the trail, said Fisher. Crossing over the Wisconsin River is in an area that boasts country and river scenery that allows for peaceful, one-of-a-kind views of nature that can only be seen until now, by boat.
“Our last phase will be to bring the trail full circle from Wauzeka back to Boscobel following roughly the Highway 60 path which follows the Wisconsin River,” said Fisher.
Fisher said that she, Dull, and others working on the trail project are trying to obtain 501(3)(c) status and that they have completed most of the required paperwork. “Roddy Dull, our Woodman liaison, has done lots of work to spearhead this, even before the actual trail exists,” said Fisher. Fisher said that Dull has been working to create a “Dinky Trail” that plots the trail on which the Fennimore Dinky train went.
Fisher noted that numerous municipalities, organizations and businesses are supporting the trail project. “We just kicked off our first small fund-raiser, delivering pizzas from the Krachey’s gas station, and now are planning an A & W Restaurant family night where 20% of the evening’s profits will go towards our trail,” she said. “We have a ‘Welcome Home’ tailgating chicken barbecue at the park in Boscobel on the evening of July 3. Many people arrive home for this event and have nothing to do until the Fourth of July. This way, people can meet at the park the night before and enjoy each other’s families and have a wonderful night of fun, complete with a meal and DJ/kid’s games and entertainment. We also are planning a Hiking and Biking Unlimited Banquet, like the Duck’s Unlimited Banquet, on Nov. 1, which will be our biggest fund-raiser for sure. We need businesses and people to donate, so if anyone wants to donate, please contact one of our board members.”
Fisher said that the project’s DNR contact has been Matt Seguin, who is the property manager of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Seguin has put the project on the DNR Master Plan which is being completed this spring. “He is in full acceptance of this project and has backed us 100%,” said Fisher. “Our cities are also in support of this,” said Fisher. “Boscobel has had to revamp its recreation plan for the future in order for us to apply for many DNR grants. Woodman and Wauzeka are also in support and have given us the go ahead. There just isn’t any funding for any of this, especially after last year’s flooding in Boscobel, and it is up to our organization to find the money, and we will!”
“Business people are also in support of this,” said Fisher. “Our goal is to not only bring this trail for the enjoyment of our local people, but to also bring in more tourism. We have many canoeists come in on weekends with bikes, only to leave our town early because we don’t have the trails that they would like to see. Many city people have bought land in our hills in order to hunt, fish, and enjoy our rural beauty. A bike/hike trail would only improve tourism in our area.”
Fisher noted that the project also has the support of the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore. “They are helping us with memorial recognition areas, restroom facilities, and benches, as well as creating brochures and marketing assistance that we may need,” she said.
Fisher said that the railroad hasn’t been contacted officially yet, but trail proponents will have their “ducks in a row” when they do. “We’ll be ready. We know it’s not easy, but, in the long run, it will be worth it,” she said. “Where else can you find a river crossing that doesn’t include a highway/road? I can’t even imagine the beauty and solitude of crossing a river on a bike or hike where there’s nothing but you and nature.”
Fisher said that the time line for the first phase is probably no later than next fall. The second phase will hopefully be completed in two to three years, and the third phase might be five to six years away. She said that the last phase will probably be close to 10 years hence.
“It sounds like a long time but in all reality, it truly isn’t,” said Fisher. “I look forward to riding a bike on this trail with my (unborn) grandkids, passing strangers with a friendly hello, and knowing in my heart that this trail of happiness exists because a few townspeople banded together to make a dream become our and someone else’s reality.”
To donate towards the trail project, interested persons can send a check made out to the Wisconsin River Trail Organization to Community First Bank in Boscobel (925 Wisconsin Avenue, 53805), or go on the website, www.wirivertrail.org on the donation page, or contact any of the Wisconsin River Trail Organization Board members. “We have a way to donate a one-time donation, but also a way to donate $5, $10, or $20 per month so it’s not so taxing to people with families, yet helps them qualify for the $500+ recognition,” said Fisher.