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WSLL @ Your Service January 2024

Trail Law - Nate Anderson

Two famous trails in Wisconsin recently underwent a behind-the-scenes transformation: they're now units of the National Park Service (NPS).

hiker on trail

The Ice Age Trail (IAT) is entirely located in Wisconsin. When completed, the trail will total 1200 miles in length. The IAT traverses 30 Wisconsin counties. The eastern terminus is in Pottawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay, and the trail rambles as far south as Janesville.  The trail's western terminus is in St. Croix Falls.

The North Country Trail (NCT) will total over 4600 miles when completed, and ranges from Vermont to North Dakota. The trail passes through eight states, and crosses northwestern Wisconsin for over two hundred miles and four counties.

Both trails were already designated National Scenic Trails in the National Trails Systems Act, codified as 16 U.S. Code s. 1244. So what does it mean that they're now units of the National Park Service? The Ice Age Trail Alliance explains the legal significance of this change:

"Unit status gives the Ice Age National Scenic Trail:

  • Official recognition within the National Park Service
  • Access to additional funding opportunities
  • Equal legal standing with other National Park Service destinations"

The Ice Age Trail Alliance press release notes an anomaly in the NSTA, now remedied:

"…the Ice Age Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the country, six of which are administered by the National Park Service.  Of those six, three trails (Appalachian Trail, Natchez Trace Trail, and Potomac Heritage Trail) were identified as units at the time of their designation.

This specification was missing from the wording of the law when the Ice Age Trail, North Country Trail, and New England Trail were designated.

There is no clear reason or policy for the discrepancy in language. However non-designation had real-world implication for the Trails, including funding opportunity restrictions.  It also meant the Trails were not recognized as part of the National Park Service."

The National Park Service previously had two units in Wisconsin: The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior and the St Croix National Scenic Riverway on the Minnesota border. NPS sometimes uses the word "park" or "park lands" generically for its 428 units (and not just for familiar National Parks such as Yosemite).  

However, the U.S. Supreme Court found that trails and the land beneath them are not synonymous in a 2020 case. 

"We hold that the Department of the Interior's decision to assign responsibility over the Appalachian Trail to the National Park Service did not transform the land over which the Trail passes into land within the National Park System."  (U.S. Forest Service v Cowpasture River Preservation Assoc 140 S Ct 1837.) 

According to the court, the NPS holds the equivalent of a limited easement or right-of-way when trails cross over lands held by other federal agencies. The U.S. Forest Service could allow a pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail, on its USFS lands, over the objections of the NPS. 
The response of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy emphasized what Cowpasture hadn't changed:

"…this first-ever decision on the National Trails System Act is understood to keep in place the Cooperative Management System that tens of thousands of Appalachian Trail (A.T.) volunteers, professionals and agency partners have collaborated under for decades."

In 2010, representatives of the "Triad" responsible for the cooperative management of the Ice Age Trail signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Triad includes:

The MOU describes complementary and sometimes overlapping roles for these private, state, and federal agencies.

National Scenic Trails have been uniquely dependent on private citizens for vision, development, maintenance, promotion, hiker education and ethics, land acquisition, and trail management. Completed trails such as the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, long designated as NPS or USFS units, still heavily rely on their trail organizations. The critical role of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the North Country Trail Association will likely continue.

Wisconsin Statute 23.17 officially designates the IAT as a State Scenic Trail, and lists the duties of the DNR. They include coordinating land use and right-of-way with other agencies and municipalities, promotion, trail management in coordination with the NPS, and acquiring land.

State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs) are lands purchased by the DNR for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail under the authority of Wisconsin Statute 23.09 (2)(d)10 unless purchased as part of another department project. The primary purpose of State Ice Age Trail Areas is to permanently protect segments of the Ice Age Trail, preserve Wisconsin's glacial landscape features and other natural and cultural resources and, where possible, offer primitive and remote opportunities for visitors to experience a quiet connection with nature. SIATAs offer low-impact public recreation such as hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing while protecting the natural and scenic character of the Ice Age Trail corridor.

The DNR lists 51 SIATAs located in 17 of Wisconsin's 72 counties.  The DNR manages six North Country Trail Areas (NCTAs) in two counties.  The DNR has regulatory powers over permissible recreational uses in SIATAs and NCTAs.  DNR maps show where hunting or trapping is allowed within these areas (generally 100 yards away from the trail).  The DNR may develop separate motorized trails in these SIATAs or NCTAs, away from the IAT footpath.

The IAT route also uses multiple existing state trails. Despite the NPS preference that the IAT be "a footpath only," some of these trail segments may allow some motorized use under state or county rules, as well as allow bicycling. The IAT appears in local land use planning documents, town board resolutions, and ordinances, covering topics such as pedestrian safety, trail parking, and adjacent land use.

A hiker on the Ice Age Trail or North Country Trail may stand simultaneously in a National Park unit, on a federal trail easement, on state trail, on a rail trail, and on federal, state, county, municipal or private land. Federal statutes and code, state statutes and code, and local ordinances may govern trail development and permissible activities. Litigation has reached state and federal appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

The "freedom of the trail" that hikers seek is, legally speaking, a complex affair.


Photo credit: Gajus - stock.adobe.com.

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Copyright Law Sources - Chris Schroeder

On May 31, 1790, the inaugural copyright law was established under the newly formed United States Constitution. This legislation had a restricted and narrow scope, safeguarding books, maps, and charts for a mere 14 years. Registration for these works took place in the United States District Courts.

On January 1 each year, we observe International Copyright Law Day, dedicated to encouraging creative individuals to reflect on how copyright law contributes to the legality and protection of their work. This month's featured book display offers a variety of resources aimed at enhancing understanding of the regulations that safeguard creative works.

copyright display

Getting permission: using & licensing copyright-protected materials online & off
KF3002 .S75 2022

Intellectual property in Wisconsin
KFW2730 .I43

Patent, copyright & trademark: an intellectual property desk reference
KF2980 .E44 2022

What is a copyright?
KF2995 .W52 2022

The tech contracts handbook: cloud computing agreements, software licenses, and other IT contracts for lawyers and businesspeople
KF905.C6 T65 2021

The copyright handbook: what every writer needs to know
KF2995 .F53 2021

Copyright law in a nutshell
KF2994 .L34 2017

Copyright law: a practitioner's guide
KF2994 .K452

Intellectual property: exploitation and disposition
KF6289.A1 T35 no. 558-3rd

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New Books - Chris Schroeder

book coverNew Edition! The legal and social ramifications of pandemics on civil rights and civil liberties, edited by Claire L. Parins, 2023
Call Number: KF3803.C68 L44 2023

This guide is an invaluable resource for professionals seeking an understanding of the different ways in which COVID-19 impacted the most vulnerable populations in the United States. Authored by 30 legal experts, it outlines a comprehensive framework for effectively navigating and supporting communities during pandemics. Beyond identifying issues, the guide provides actionable insights for attorneys, policymakers, elected officials, businesses, and citizens to collaboratively address and rectify systemic inequities post-COVID-19 and in future health crises. A thorough examination of the challenges faced by immigrants, individuals with disabilities, historically disadvantaged students, and insights into the role of climate change in exacerbating these issues makes this book essential reading for those committed to fostering health equity and social justice.

Topics discussed:

  • How the virus heightened threats to different groups of people
  • How lawyers and governments can work to alleviate a pandemic's worst effects
  • Access to justice in the courts
  • The tax system and how to deliver economic relief during times of shutdown
  • The future of public health mandates

book coverNew Update! Information security and privacy: a guide to federal and state law and compliance, Thompson/West 2023 Update
Call Number: KF390.5.C6 I543

Information Security and Privacy", is an informative three volume series covering the world of information security and data privacy. This user-friendly guide offers a thorough exploration of both federal and state laws, covering major regulations in the U.S. and 14 other countries. The latest edition not only dives into established topics but also sheds light on emerging issues such as genetic privacy, security breaches, state e-mail laws, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. With expanded coverage and engaging discussions, including insights into data security and destruction laws, this book becomes an essential companion for understanding the ever-changing landscape of information security. Whether you're curious about general privacy rules, financial privacy laws, or medical privacy regulations, this text is your accessible reference for navigating the legal aspects of information security and privacy.

Topics include:

  • General privacy restrictions, including Internet, video, and telecom privacy laws
  • Financial privacy, including GLB, FCRA, and the FACT Act
  • Medical privacy, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, genetic privacy, and use of medical information
  • Wiretapping and privacy in electronic communications, including employee monitoring
  • Data security and destruction, including SOX and state law

New books

See our latest New Titles list for a list of new books and other resources. For assistance in accessing these or other resources, please contact our Reference Desk.

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Tech Tip - Heidi Yelk

justia example

Are you searching for primary law on the web? Researchers often use Google as a first stop for nearly every search project. However, if your project is specific to primary legal information like statutes, codes, and case law, you may wish to use a specialized search engine for law. "Justia Search" is just such a tool. Justia Search can be particularly helpful for state-by-state surveys of a topic.

Start at https://www.justia.com/search, which offers a very basic keyword search box. This search will return results from the Justia database. For example, the search: "preservation historical sites" returns codes and case law from jurisdictions across the United States, as contained within the Justia database. If you would like to expand the search to include both Justia files and the larger web, choose "Legal Web" above the search box and run your search again: "preservation historical sites."

Before relying on statutes or codes within the Justia database, you may wish to verify the current language using the official website from the jurisdiction. The Library of Congress US States and Territories listing is an excellent resource to find official websites for state codes.

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Library News - Carol Hassler

Legal research classes

Webinars for 2024 are now open for registration through the Wisconsin State Law Library. Registration for each webinar is limited to 100. Registrations will be approved weekly by the moderator. Once your registration is approved, you will get an email confirmation with connection information. Please reach out to Michael Keane with questions about the class and Jaden Henneman with questions about registering.

Basic Knowledge for Legislative Research in Wisconsin
Wednesday, January 24, noon-1:00 p.m.
Location: Live webinar - Register for Basic Knowledge for Legislative Research in Wisconsin
Get an introduction to the basic tools for understanding the legislative process: the format of legislative documents, the vocabulary, tips on reading statutes, and using information associated with the statutes to better understand and more easily research state law. This class is a great prequel to drafting file research and is appropriate for any legal researcher interested in the Wisconsin legislative process.

Introduction to Wisconsin Legislative History
Wednesday, February 21, noon-1:00 p.m.
Location: Live webinar - Register for Introduction to Wisconsin Legislative History
I need the legislative history of a Wisconsin statute. Where do I start? What do I do? Participants will look at the primary resources used to research Wisconsin legislative history, learn about the online Wisconsin legislative drafting files, and learn some helpful tips and tricks along the way. This introductory class covers basic research strategies and sources.

Wisconsin Legislative History - Budget Bill Calamities
Wednesday, March 20, noon-1:00 p.m.
Location: Live webinar - Register for Wisconsin Legislative History - Budget Bill Calamities
Statutory provisions created by a budget bill pose special problems in legislative history research. The budget bill process is complex and the drafting file created during the process is even more daunting. Learn how to identify statutes created by budget bills and how to navigate the drafting file. This advanced class covers additional techniques used in budget bill research.

January State Holiday

All three libraries will be closed on Monday, January 15, 2023 for the Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday. While we are closed, please send questions to wsll.ref@wicourts.gov or leave a voicemail at 608-267-9696. We will respond to requests the following day.

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January Snapshot

Capitol photo

A Mild December
Photo by Nate Anderson

Late December rain gleams on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial, located at the corner of N. Pinckney St. and E. Mifflin St. on the Capitol square in Madison.

We are accepting snapshots! Do you have a photo highlighting libraries, attractions or points of historical interest? Send your photo the editor at carol.hassler@wicourts.gov to be included in a future issue.

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