Town of Delafield - Most of the skiers, runners and hikers who paused to catch their breath atop Gut-Buster Hill at Lapham Peak probably haven’t noticed they were standing on a piece of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
They will now.
The proposed closure and potential sale of the Ethan Allen School for Boys could cut off access to well-used sections of trail, and regular visitors have started a campaign to protect the land as part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
The threat to one stretch of trail, mostly short segments of the black/blue loop south of the observation tower, is not imminent but bears watching.
Paul Sandgren, the superintendent for the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, confirmed last week that the trail does cross the far northern extension of the Ethan Allen property.
For nearly two decades, the DOC has allowed access to the trail crossing its land.
Access could be blocked, however, if the state follows through on Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to close the juvenile detention center, and the state sells the property.
No sale is in the works at present, according to statements from the DOC and the governor’s office.
Paul Kanter, chairman of the Delafield Town Board, said he would prefer to have the DOC transfer the land to the DNR as part of the State Forest. He promised the town would protect access to the trail, in the event Ethan Allen is sold.
“They’ll have to set aside that property and grant easements for the continuation of those trails,” Kanter said. “That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Through e-mails exchanged last week, members of the Friends of Lapham Peak encouraged others to contact state representatives and make a case for ongoing access.
The map below shows the section of the blue/black trail closest to the Ethan Allen property. According to state officials, the map boundary is incorrect and a portion of the trail crosses on land owned by the Department of Corrections.
(Journal Sentinel reporter Mike Johnson contributed to this report).