Dane County, City of Madison, DNR to Preserve 259 Acres of Wetlands and Uplands
MADISON ... State and local leaders are celebrating Earth Day this week by moving forward on the largest conservation land purchase in Madison history. Dane County, the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are joining forces to acquire 259 acres of critical wetlands and uplands in Cherokee Marsh.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk was joined by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank and others for a news conference on Earth Day on part of the lands being purchased to preserve, which are located in the city of Madison and town of Burke.
Falk said a $794,000 grant from the County’s Conservation Fund means hundreds of acres wetlands in the Cherokee Marsh are closer to being protected and restored. The County Board is expected to give final approval to the grant this Thursday night and Falk will sign it on Friday.
“What better way to celebrate Earth Week than for the County to give these dollars to help preserve these pristine natural areas for citizens to enjoy forever,” Falk said. “Protecting these wetlands will help keep our lakes blue, ensure a home for so much wonderful wildlife, and offer outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking and biking.”
259 acres of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area will be purchased with the Dane County Conservation Fund grant, along with $1.5 million in funding from the Department of Natural Resources through the state’s Knowles/Nelson Stewardship Fund, and nearly $779,000 from the city of Madison. The property is owned by Dennis Tiziani’s Cherokee Park Incorporated.
“This historic acquisition is only possible thanks to an unprecedented partnership between the city, the county, the state, the non-profit community and the property owner,” said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than to move forward with the largest land conservation purchase in city history. I appreciate the willingness of Dennis Tiziani, the property owner, to work closely with us to make this day a reality.”
The purchase includes 236 acres of wetlands in the Cherokee Marsh and 23 acres of upland habitat along the Yahara River. A bicycle and pedestrian trail is planned for the upland area that will connect the north and south parts of the Cherokee Marsh.
Gov. Jim Doyle has made the Stewardship program one of his administration’s top priorities – protecting more than 181,000 acres of land statewide since 2003, DNR Secretary Matt Frank said. “The Stewardship Fund not only protects our natural resources and provides outstanding recreational opportunities; it protects our Wisconsin heritage and our identity. That includes incredible natural areas like the Cherokee Marsh,” he said. “The DNR is proud to be a partner in an effort with the City of Madison, Dane County and property owner Dennis Tiziani to secure this great outdoor recreation area that also provides water quality benefits for the North Mendota Watershed and the Madison lakes.”
The Natural Heritage Land Trust, a non-profit conservation organization, is helping to secure funds and coordinate the purchase of the property. This acquisition will be their third Cherokee Marsh project completed in the group’s 25 year history.
"Cherokee Marsh is one of the most well-known landscapes in Madison and Dane County,” Jim Welsh, Executive Director of the Natural Heritage Land Trust, said. “It is a great place to get out and enjoy nature very close to home. We are proud to be able to help secure funding for this acquisition, which is the largest unprotected part of the marsh's south side.”
The Dane County Conservation Fund was created in 1990. In 2000, Dane County voters overwhelming supported tripling dollars in the fund available for land acquisition and preservation. The fund has helped protect natural areas across Dane County including 41 acres in Door Creek Park along with projects at Patrick Marsh Natural Resource Area, Lower Mud Lake Natural Resource Area, Black Earth Creek Natural Resource Area, and the Token Creek Natural Resource Area.