Monroe High School Earth Day Clean Up on Badger Trail









Dave Zillmer

If you have been out on the Badger State Trail on a weekend you have probably seen a small red pickup truck with a UW Badger decal on the door.
That pickup belongs to Dave Zillmer, one of the many volunteers who have stepped up to help make the Badger Trail the gem it is today. Because of WDNR staffing limitations, volunteers play an important part in helping maintain Department Park properties.

From April to November, Dave is out on the Badger 2-3 times a week traveling from Purcell Road to the Illinois border. When riding his bike along the trail, he always carries a lopper and shears to remove branches that may endanger riders.

In 2005, Dave, a Janesville resident, became interested in the trail while, when looking at a Gazetteer map book, he noticed a road named Tunnel Road and wondered what it was all about. That curiosity has resulted in many hours spent along what officially became the Badger State Trail in 2007.

Dave works on clearing the trail.

Dave' first efforts involved pushing a wheel barrow and hand tools from Tunnel Road to Stewart Tunnel to remove rocks that were causing drainage problems. His favorite project has been rip rapping efforts to stabilize the trail between Monticello and Stewart Tunnel.

In 2008, vandals spray-painted over 25 swastikas on the south portal of the tunnel. Dave went to work removing them, first using mineral spirits and then paint remover. What worked the best was just plain old vinegar that reacted with the limestone face of the tunnel. With a wire brush and lots' of elbow grease, the tunnel entrance was soon returned to normal.

Ready to haul away!

Dave usually bikes over 800 miles a year, favoring state trails. Other trail favorites include the Sparta Elroy, Bearskin and the Gandy Dancer.

Next time you see that red pickup parked along the trail, make sure to stop by and chat with Dave.

But beware . . . he may hand you a pruning shear!

The Stewart Tunnel had drainage problems on the south side of the tunnel.
After Dave installed the drain tile . . . problem solved!



When out on the trail, keep an eye open for Dave's red pickup truck.




Friends of Badger State Trail volunteers gathered on Saturday, May 19, to clean up around the kiosk the group donated to the State Trail in July of 2010. Activities included grass mowing, exotic plant pulling and brush removal. Join us next year!

Morning riders stop and chat with the clean up crew.

Many hands, hard at work!








Prairies once covered two million acres of Wisconsin. As Europeans settled in Wisconsin, they converted the treeless, fertile prairies into crop fields and controlled the sweep of wildfires. Today, less than 12,000 scattered acres exist. In order to protect and maintain the biodiversity of prairie ecosystems, special restoration techniques, such as prescribed or controlled burning can give grasslands a chance for rebirth.

Several projects are being initiated along the trail to recover lost prairie. One led by the Montrose Railroad Stewardship Committee and the other by our own Friends group volunteers.


The Friends of Brooklyn, the Wisconsin DOT, the Wisconsin DNR and local concerned individuals have organized the Montrose Railroad Stewardship Committee. The groups purpose is to restore about 1.5 miles of degraded prairie remnant that parallels State Hwy 69, just north of Belleville. Activities include cutting invasive trees and shrubs, hauling brush and burning everything too small for use as firewood. A neighboring farmer is picking up the logs for firewood. DOT permission and permits, a DNR approved vegetation management plan and the resources needed for the task have been
   
acquired. The group is working hard to get as much done as possible before the adjacent farm field is ready to plow.What is needed now are more volunteers with a vision for what this prairie could be and a willingness to help with the restoration. Dan Wallace is leading the charge. Currently, the work activity is taking place north from Frenchtown Road towards County Rd. A. The group will also be working in another area, about a mile closer to Belleville, to provide "breathing room" for existing plants. Prescribed burns, seeding and mowing will complete the first phase of the project. It will be an ongoing effort to reclaim some of Wisconsin's prairie heritage
and the hope is that some of the ancient prairie seeds will germinate. As an added benefit to this project, visibility crossing Frenchtown Road has improved.






A group of trail enthusiasts met south of the Stewart Tunnel on Sat. June 19, 2010 to do preparation work for the construction of the new kiosk. Dan Sullivan cleared out the area with a hedge hog earlier in the week and the volunteers cleared the area of small trees and brush. The bugs were tolerable with liberal use of bug spray! Our contractor began construction in July 2010.


A group of trail enthusiasts met south of the Stewart Tunnel on Sat. June 19, 2010 to do preparation work for the construction of the new kiosk. Dan Sullivan cleared out the area with a hedge hog earlier in the week and the volunteers cleared the area of small trees and brush. The bugs were tolerable with liberal use of bug spray! Our contractor began construction in July 2010.


The Friends of the Badger Trail had another great year with the completion of our group's project to erect a custom designed kiosk at the Stewart Tunnel and the completion of the northern section of the trail into Madison.