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John and Patty Noel donate land to Schmeeckle

Special for the Metro Wire

Long-time community supporters John and Patty Noel have donated a 33-acre public conservancy area to the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve. Moses Creek Meadows is located near Yulga Park in the Town of Hull, at the headwaters of Moses Creek.

Moses Creek Meadows protects a pristine sedge meadow wetland, home to sandhill cranes and northern harriers. Small islands of tamarack and pine harbor rare plants such as trailing-arbutus, wintergreen, and partridge berry. Moses Creek flows south through oak and pine forests and a series of sedge meadows before dipping under Interstate 39 and entering the restored wetlands of Schmeeckle Reserve, a 280-acre conservancy of UW-Stevens Point.

The property is near a mobile home park where the Noels first lived when they were married at age 19, John Noel pointed out, and it remains special.

The couple founded Travel Guard, the Noel Group, and Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, employing hundreds and improving the lives of thousands through humanitarian and philanthropic efforts. They helped create the Portage County chapter of the Boys and Girls Club and the Noel Compass Scholar Program at UW-Stevens Point and have supported numerous community efforts.

This map of the Moses Creek Meadows site shows the planned scenic reroute of the Green Circle Trail, along with the proposed boardwalk and viewing deck that will be constructed by the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve. (Contributed)

“This community was incredibly kind to us and kind to our family, and because of that, we were able to have a company that thrived. We had dedicated, loyal employees who were educated in schools here. We owe everything to Stevens Point and Portage County,” Patty Noel said at a recent dedication ceremony of the Noels gift, attended by Friends of Schmeeckle and Green Circle Trail board members.

Nearly a half-mile section of the Green Circle Trail will be rerouted through the property this fall. The Friends group plans to construct a quarter-mile walking trail spur with a boardwalk and a viewing platform overlooking the sedge meadow.

Friends volunteers have begun to clear paths for the new trails on the property. The group is seeking donations for the trail developments, which will support the purchase of materials for the walking trail, boardwalk, and observation deck. To learn more, visit FriendsOfSchmeeckle.org.

“We profoundly appreciate the Noel family for their incredible gift to the community. This beautiful land can now be enjoyed by everyone,” said Jerry Lineberger, Friends of Schmeeckle board president. Acquiring and managing gifts of land was a founding goal for the Friends group.

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