WISCONSIN – Tim Vetter, Acting Recreation, Wilderness & Lands Program Manager on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, was recently recognized as winner of the 2018 Public Partner Award by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The positive impacts Tim has led on behalf of the Ice Age NST and the Alliance include:
- Elevating the profile of the Alliance within the USFS regionally and nationally
- Forging sustainable relationships with private and public entities which expand the capacity of the Alliance to conduct trail stewardship, construction and maintenance throughout Taylor County
- Helping the Alliance compete for and secure competitive USFS funding, without which the outcomes described below, would have been unlikely to occur.
Tim was unable to attend the awards ceremony due to inclement weather; however, he provided the following remarks:
“While it was a difficult travel decision yesterday, opening my garage door this morning to snow drifts twice the size of my snow blower at least confirmed for me it was the right choice to stay off the roads last night.
I have been talking to a couple different groups this spring about the current status of the recreation program on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. In those discussions, I spoke to where we were, where we are and where we want to be as a forest. Much of the discussion on where we were revolved around periods of growth on the National Forest. From the Civilian Conservation Corps to the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, the SCEP program to the Experienced Works program and most recently the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act all provided the forest periods of growth from campgrounds, picnic shelters, beaches, trails and trail infrastructure. The underlining theme during all of these periods of growth was consistent funding with an able and willing work force.
I mention this because there has been an equally significant period of growth on the National Forest in Taylor County over the last decade. Anyone who has hiked the Ice Age National Scenic Trail from HWY 64 to the Mondeaux Flowage has experienced this first hand. Reconstructed boardwalk, new boardwalk, bridges, trail tread and fresh blaze tell the story of this growth as you hike. What is unique about this period of growth is that there was no influx of funding, but there was however an able and willing work force many of whom will read this. This period of growth was financed on a foundation of a shared vision, collaboration and this idea of shared stewardship.
While I was honored to receive this award, it is important to recognize everyone who has contributed to building our partnership and continues to enable us to evolve and adapt to the challenges we face. The High Point Chapter, the Alliance, New Vision Wilderness, Medford Middle School and every local lumber and supply company in Medford have all played integral roles in making this period of growth possible.
I have taken my experiences throughout the evolution of this partnership and shared our story with other disciplines on the National Forest as this was not a one-time success story of a partnership project, this is a new way of doing business. The Forest Service has five national priorities, two of which shine brightly through our partnership. Shared stewardship through increased partnership and volunteerism and enhancing recreation opportunities, improving access and sustaining infrastructure are two priorities the agency views as critical pieces to telling the story of where we want to be. No one chapter, interest group or agency can meet the challenges public land stewards face alone, it is through continued efforts of shared stewardship that we will all find our trail forward.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, come up to Medford Wisconsin. Stop at the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest office on Highway 13 to say hi to me, head west on highway 64 until to find a little parking lot on the north side of the road. Spend a couple days hiking up to the Mondeaux Flowage and see for yourself, just make sure you call Buzz Meyer first for a ride back to your car.”