In 2008, Lauree Renaud dreamed of developing a network of safe walking and biking trails in Green Lake County that would connect area communities and the people in them. She founded a non-profit organization called Green Lake Greenways to help make this happen. Lauree wanted a trail that would run through our communities, not around them. A place for families and all generations to get outdoors and safely walk, jog, and bike. A way to commute to work or go shopping by bicycle. A path showcasing the beauty of Green Lake County to tourists looking for an escape from city life.
Lauree passed away unexpectedly in 2018. She had invested countess hours completing loads of paperwork for a trail to connect the cities of Green Lake, Ripon, Rush Lake, and Berlin with the help of the Mascoutin Trail. Years of organization, preparation, fundraising, and grant writing lay in limbo. The trail, so close to being built, was stalled. Construction permits and easements remained on hold.
“We wanted to honor Lauree by making her dream a reality and finishing the project,” shared Howard Hansen, president of Green Lake Greenways. “It took a while, but good things come to those who wait.”
The board of Green Lake Greenways regrouped and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources extended the end date for their Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant, which funds recreational development and conservation land purchases statewide.
“The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation helped us establish a charitable fund that was both visible and easy to contribute to. The Foundation helped connect potential donors with our project and gave them the assurance that their gifts were secure and would be used appropriately,” said Barry Rodgers, treasurer of Green Lake Greenways.
Construction of “Lauree’s Trail” began in April 2020; named after the woman with the vision and determination to make it a reality. Phases 1 and 2 of the project were completed in July 2022.
After the final phase is completed, the 18-mile off-road recreational trail will run along the north side of Highway 23 from the Green Lake Conference Center to Berlin. The total cost of the trail is estimated at $1.8 million.
“My son and I ride on Lauree’s Trail about once a week. To not have to bike along the highway, like I did as a kid, has been great. This trail makes it so much safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s such a wonderful asset to our communities,” shared Hansen.