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Nelson grant will help map biking-hiking route to High Cliff

$24 million in trails planned by 2025
LATEST PLAN REPORT – High Cliff Connection
Report from the Fox Cities Trail Summit
Take video ride on the Loop the Locks trail

One of the highest-priority trails for area hikers and bikers will tie the Fox Cities to High Cliff State Park in the coming year – at least on paper – thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation’s David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund.  The announcement was made earlier today at a news conference.

President and CEO Curt Detjen announces a $100,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Family Fund.

The grant will enable East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to hire a consultant to recommend the best route for a trail, the safest way to get trail users across busy Hwy. 10-114, and, if it is economically feasible, to build an elevated boardwalk through wetlands along 114.

Many pieces of a trail are already in place and interest in trails in general has skyrocketed through the pandemic, says Kim Biedermann, East Central Associate Planner and Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator.

In mid-December, representatives of the Community Foundation and East Central invited a group of municipal, state and nonprofit officials to explore how many of the building blocks for the trail are already in place and the level of interest in completing the connection. The Fox Cities Trail Summit held in February 2020 identified High Cliff as one of the region’s highest-priority trail needs.

“There is so much interest and enthusiasm in making this connection happen,” Biedermann says, “and we are grateful that the Nelson Fund is helping to bring us one step closer in making this connection a reality.”

Community Foundation President and CEO Curt Detjen says good trail networks are an important element of economic development because they offer improved quality of life to workers already here or considering moving to the Fox Valley. “The level of collaboration we’re seeing among various government and nonprofit agencies on this project is quite impressive,” he says. A recent update of a Community Foundation inventory of trails planned in the Fox Cities projected $24 million in trail construction through 2025.

The Nelsons, who lived in De Pere, left an estate gift of more than $100 million to their charitable fund at the Community Foundation. The priorities they specified for the money include parks and recreation.

East Central next week will send out a request for proposals for firms interested in doing the study, which is expected to be completed in a year.

Check out the media coverage of this project here:




Who were the Nelsons? Learn more about the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund and find out more about this couple here.

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