Wild Gifters' Donation Protects Habitat and 40km of Trails
Over 40 kilometers of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at the core of the Minocqua Winter Park Nordic Center’s system are now protected in perpetuity thanks to a conservation easement donation from Ken and Carolyn Aldridge to the Northwoods Land Trust. Ken and Carolyn are Minocqua residents and longtime supporters of Wild Gift. Ken currently serves on the Wild Gift Board of Directors.
On December 1, 2011, the Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve was established with the granting of a perpetual conservation easement by the Aldridges to the Northwoods Land Trust. This 3,195 acre property -nearly five square miles - includes about 43 kilometers of cross-country ski and snow shoe trails at the core of the Minocqua Winter Park Nordic Center’s trail system.
This project is the largest conservation easement ever donated to a land trust in Wisconsin, and is an early Christmas present for the many friends of Minocqua Winter Park. Minocqua Winter Park is regarded as one of the premier cross-country ski trail systems in the Midwest.
The ski chalet is located on 40 acres of land owned by the Town of Minocqua and managed for public use under an agreement with the Lakeland Ski Touring Foundation, Inc. The Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve surrounds the chalet property.
Through the land protection agreement, the Aldridges have granted skiers perpetual access to the existing trails and have placed limits on forestry practices, land fragmentation, and development which will keep the land in its natural state. The land will remain open to the public forever for winter silent sports including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skijoring (skiing with dogs).
Ski trails now protected include the Base Loop, Tornado Alley, Survivor Windy Ridge, Nutcracker, Nose Dive, Beaver Pond, Creek Trail, Red Pine, Silver Strider, Sleigh Ride, VO2 Max, Nepco's Cruise, most of X-C Express and River Run, as well as the northern half of Yukon. Much of the newly expanded snowshoe trail system is protected as well.
The conservation agreement also protects over 13 miles of natural shorelines on the Squirrel River, Yukon Creek, Howard’s Creek, and other small, un-named streams and ponds. In addition, the land provides natural habitat buffers around and adjacent to the Squirrel River Pines State Natural Area.
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust to permanently protect a property's natural characteristics by limiting how it can be used. The Northwoods Land Trust is committed to monitoring the land each year and ensuring that the easement's terms are carried out in perpetuity .
To get to Minocqua Winter Park, take Hwy. 70 about 6.5 miles west of Minocqua, turn south on Squirrel Lake Road for about 4 miles, and follow the signs east ¼ mile on Scotchman Lake Road to the entrance drive. The public is invited to the dedication of the new Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve on Thursday, December 29th at 11 a.m. at the Minocqua Winter Park chalet. For more information on the preserve or dedication, visit northwoodslandtrust.org.