May 01, 2019
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

Thursday meeting agenda includes Westport, Blue Mound area land deals


With spring arriving, the Dane County Board is looking at several projects aimed at preserving and enhancing the natural environment.


The Board holds its regular meeting Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. in Room 210 of the City-County Building, with supervisors getting an update at 6 p.m. on alternative jail design options (https://www.countyofdane.com/PressDetail/9731).


Among the conservation projects before the Board is a proposal to provide $113,000 from the Dane County Conservation Fund to Groundswell Conservancy toward purchase of approximately 84 acres in the town of Westport from the O’Malley family. The parcel contains an intact 1,500 foot portion of Sixmile Creek, which is classified as an “Exceptional Water Resource” by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and supports a diverse warm water sport fishery.


The property lies just east of the DNR’s Waunakee Marsh Wildlife Area and north of Dane County’s North Mendota Natural Resource Area. The parcel is dominated by wetlands and includes an overgrown oak savanna.


Groundswell Conservancy intends to protect this stretch of Sixmile Creek and the adjacent wetlands to help maintain and improve water quality, limit impervious surface and reduce flooding while also providing public access for nature-based outdoor recreation.


Total project costs are $404,770, with additional funds coming from the state’s Knowles Nelson Stewardship program along with a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant and funds from the village of Waunakee.


“This is a great opportunity to protect a section of Sixmile Creek while also safeguarding wetlands north of Madison that help control farm runoff before it can reach the Yahara chain of lakes,” said Supervisor Michele Ritt (District 18, Madison) who chairs the county’s Environment, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. “Groundswell Conservancy, the O’Malley family and others all worked together to make this project happen.”


Dane County’s Conservation Fund would also be used to help purchase 4.3 acres in the town of Vermont to expand the Blue Mounds Natural Resource Area. The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) would purchase the land from the Wilken Trust for $30,728, with up to $20,364 coming from the Conservation Fund.


Since 2005, TPE has secured approximately 210 acres north of Brigham County Park and adjacent to the Blue Mounds Wildlife Area. These lands make up TPE’s Pleasure Valley Conservancy, which contains a variety of landscapes including areas of rugged dolomite-capped hills with sandstone outcrops that provide scenic views of nearby Blue Mounds. TPE has worked to plant former agricultural lands with a mix of native prairie grasses and flowers.


“Not only will this purchase protect a restored prairie, it will provide opportunities for the public to study and research this unique area or simply enjoy a hike with beautiful views,” said Ritt, who also serves on the county’s Land Conservation Committee.


The final conservation piece before the Board Thursday night is an agreement with Operation Fresh Start of Madison to provide and supervise youth conservation crews to work on county lands. The $124,000 agreement continues a partnership that began in 2014 to help teach young people valuable natural resource and park management skills in an outdoor setting.


“The work that Operation Fresh Start crews provides is a home run both for the kids and the county,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 16, Middleton). “This kind of partnership is something everyone in Dane County should feel good about.”


Other action items before the Board Thursday include:

  • Providing $403,515 from the Affordable Housing Development fund for a 54-unit senior apartment project off Mineral Point Road on Madison’s far west side. Units will be restricted to those with incomes between 30 percent and 60 percent of the Dane County median. Units will be targeted toward veterans or families who have had difficulty finding housing. The city of Madison and WHEDA are also participating in the funding package.           


  • Setting up a committee in advance of the 2020 Census to ensure that all persons in Dane County are counted. The “Complete Count Committee” will be a diverse group of community leaders appointed by the County Executive for the purpose of developing and implementing a comprehensive 2020 Census awareness campaign in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, which for the first time will allow online participation in the count.


  • Establishing a funding mechanism for potential donors to contribute directly to the county-Henry Vilas Zoo.  Any donations to the fund would go directly for zoo purposes.


The full meeting agenda is available at (https://dane.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=643878&GUID=A8898D11-BA02-4CC0-A3BA-DD8AB0298C43)