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A Brief History of the Rountree Branch Trail

It all started in the late 1990s when David Canny and Martin Dawson formed the Friends of the Rountree Branch (FORB) as an ad hoc sub-committee of the City of Platteville’s Parks and Recreation Department. This volunteer group secured trail easements and funding from WI DNR grants and community donations to begin construction of the Rountree Branch Trail (RBT). Over the next several years, FORB, the City, University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UWP), local businesses, and many, many volunteers worked together to construct approximately 1 mile of gravel trail between Markee Drive/Chestnut Street and and Valley Road. In 2002, educational signs were installed along the trail through a cooperative project funded by UWP. 


In 2002, members of FORB began consideration of expanding the group’s vision to include a community arboretum of sorts. However, this would not be a traditional arboretum; this arboretum would be linear and would follow the Rountree Branch stream with the RBT as its backbone. The Platteville Community Arboretum, Inc. (PCA) was initiated in 2004 to provide a new range of additional resources to the community (i.e. gardens, natural areas, recreation, etc.) that would be associated with the trail and stream. Although independent, the PCA maintains a close working relationship with the City of Platteville, which allows both organizations to take advantage of a broader range of resources to enhance Platteville’s RBT corridor. 


In 2005, the City and PCA partnered to conduct a trail surfacing pilot study with cold mix asphalt and recycled asphalt. Neither segment performed to expectations. Thus, installation of a long-term, uniform surface remained a vision for the future.


In 2012, the City and PCA began talking about infrastructure improvements for the trail. Three projects were identified as highest priority known as “3 for $100K.” In December 2012, the City offered a $50,000 challenge match to PCA to complete the three projects. PCA successfully raised just over $50,000 to meet the challenge and secure the City’s match.


However, during fundraising for the “3 for $100K” projects, PCA was repeatedly asked by residents and business owners about plans to completely pave and light the trail. Exploratory discussions with several funding sources convinced the City and PCA that the project would be even more attractive as one large package that included paving and lighting.

This realization inspired a decision to use the existing “3 for $100K” funds as match to leverage additional funding from other sources.


It was apparent that this grander vision required a more extensive community-wide collaboration to lead the project. Moving Platteville Outdoors (MPO) was launched in 2014. The MPO community collaboration integrated the PCA, City of Platteville, Building Platteville, and the Platteville Community Fund. For MPO to succeed, donations from local businesses and grant funding needed to play a significant role.


The first step of the plan fell into place when a local philanthropist provided PCA with funds to hire a grant writer. In April 2014, a grant request was submitted to the WI DNR Stewardship Program. The DNR awarded the MPO effort $642,692 in state matching funds and an additional $45,000 from federal funds associated with the Recreational Trail Act.


The unique combination of dedicated state and federal funds along with the collaborative MPO leadership pulled the entire community together to support the trail project. Fundraising of $1.67M was completed in the Fall of 2015 with contributions came from the following segments:

WI DNR  39%

City of Platteville  17%

Residents and Service Clubs  16%

Local Business Donations  14%

Grants and Businesses outside Platteville  12%

Federal Funds  2%


Much of the land used by the trail is owned privately, so construction of the trail also required the generosity of landowners to provide easements. Easement agreements were made with Duggan Investments, Inc., C.K. of River Falls Properties, Platteville Regional Chamber, Point Motel, Inc., Jim Rosemeyer, Innovative Ag Services, AB Johansen, LLC., Four Seasons, 4A Properties, BSK, STS Associates, Tom Heiser and the Gordon R. Heiser Family Trust, John Utley, and Fiesta Cancun.  


Surveying, design, and engineering for the project was conducted by Delta 3 Engineering and IIW. Rule Construction broke ground in the Fall of 2015, and with assistance from Schmidt Electrical Construction (lighting) and Iverson-Mathy Construction (blacktopping), they successfully completed the project in 2016.

This project won a 2017 Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) award in the Engaging Public Sector Partners. Read more here.

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Representatives of the PCA Board of Directors (2016):
(L‐R) Bob Digman, Dick Bonin, Kristopher Wright, Luke Peters, Tom Nelson, Gene Weber, Bev Loy, Mike Penn

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Representatives of the City of Platteville (2015):
(Front L‐R) Barb Daus, Eileen Nickels, Barb Stockhausen,
Amy Seeboth‐Wilson, Karen Kurt
(Back L‐R) Howard Crofoot, Patricia Steiner, Mike Denn, Ken Kilian,Tom Nall, Dick Bonin

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Representatives of the Platteville Community Fund (2016):
(L‐R) Barb Daus, Jan Weier, Angie Wright, Gene Weber, Louise Brockman, Joe Rosemeyer, Cindy Tang, Mary Rosemeyer, Nate Curry, Eileen Nickels

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Representatives of Building Platteville (2016):
(Front L‐R) Kathy Kopp, Mike Mair, Ron Weier, Duane DeYoung, Gene Weber 

(Back L‐R) Mike Penn, Brian Stuart, Jen Schweigert, Frank Steck, Mary Rosemeyer, John Adams

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Representatives of the MPO Steering Committee (2015):
(Front L‐R) Katy Kopp, Cindy Tang, Karen Kurt, Angie Wright, (Back L‐R) Howard Crofoot, Gene Weber, Jim Schneller, Tom Nelson, Duane DeYoung

David "Doc" Canny

Platteville lost one of its great treasures as David Canny passed away in January 2010. The PCA was David’s brainchild and one of his many, many great contributions to the Platteville Community.

Donations to PCA in memory of David will go toward realizing his vision. One of David’s last great ideas was to have the Platteville Community Arboretum develop wheelchair accessible locations for trout fishing along Platteville’s Rountree Branch. The idea came when David (or “Doc” as he was affectionately known) started to use a wheelchair. He believed such a project would allow more of the community to share his passion for fishing. The project became known as “Docks for Doc” in his honor. 

Read more about David Canny and his contribution to Platteville in tributes to David by Gene Weber & Kris Wright.

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