Plaza will serve as a gateway for visitors exploring Schmeeckle Reserve and the Green Circle Trail.
A $125,000 donation by the Sentry Insurance Foundation will allow the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to move forward with the Green Circle Trailhead Project in Schmeeckle Reserve in 2020.
The trailhead facility will serve as a gateway for visitors exploring the 27-mile Green Circle Trail and five miles of trails in Schmeeckle Reserve.
The Sentry Insurance Foundation gift will fund construction of a gathering plaza featuring decorative concrete, stone seating, and an interpretive kiosk. The gift also supports three other elements of the project:
- An open-air shelter with a stone fireplace that will provide picnic seating for 50 people
- A new restroom that will provide year-round access to toilet facilities, even when the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center is closed
- A parking lot with green design features, just east of the current parking lot, will provide overflow parking for special events
“Schmeeckle Reserve is an incredible asset to Stevens Point, and to our 2,000-plus associates who work in the community and enjoy easy access to the 280-acre reserve,” said Pete McPartland, Sentry chairman of the board, president, and CEO. “We’re proud to have the opportunity to grow our support with this donation and look forward to seeing the new trailhead facility come to life.”
Construction will begin in spring 2020—adjacent to the current parking lot—and is expected to be completed in October 2020. The open-air shelter will be near the Pankowski Friends Amphitheater, which opened this past fall, also with major support from the Sentry Insurance Foundation.
Planning and fundraising for the project began in 2016. An initial gift from the John Noel family was matched by a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant. Additional donations were provided by the Seramur Family Foundation, Green Circle Trail, Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve, a Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism Grant, and several other donors. No state university dollars are being used for the project.
Jim Buchholz, Schmeeckle Reserve director, is excited to see the project come to fruition. “This trailhead will be an important hub for outdoor recreation in the Stevens Point area,” he said. “Like the Green Circle Trail, it is being created through the vision and support of many public and private partners—the DNR, UW-Stevens Point, Portage County, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals.”
An estimated 125,000 people use the Green Circle Trail annually, according to trail user data.
“The Green Circle Board joins all our trail partners in thanking the Sentry Insurance Foundation for choosing to donate $125,000 toward completion of the trailhead project,” said Jim Canales, board president. “With these facilities, the Green Circle Trail and Schmeeckle Reserve will continue to serve Wisconsin visitors and be recognized as community treasures.”
Project design was completed by Rettler Corporation of Stevens Point and Alliance Architects of Minneapolis.
Located on the north end of the UW-Stevens Point campus, Schmeeckle Reserve is a 280-acre conservancy area with a 24-acre lake and visitor center.
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