Dane County Executive Falk Announces Farmland Preservation Along Highway 12 Corridor
June 09, 2005
Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823
Madison – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced a proposal to purchase development rights from two farms, totaling 248 acres, to preserve farmland and open space. The two purchases total approximately $700,000 and, combined with an earlier easement on 80 acres of farmland, create a contiguous block of farmland that will permanently be preserved for agricultural use along the Highway 12 corridor in northwest Dane County.
“The land in this beautiful part of Dane County is literally some of the best farmland in the world and is subject to enormous development pressures from the widening of Highway 12,” said Falk. “Our program is a fair way to ease those pressures for farmers and protect our resource at the same time.”
The County is purchasing the easements from Gary and Ruth Ziegler of Mazomanie and from Alfred and Sandy Wildenberg of Lodi. Both farms have a high percentage of “prime agriculture land.” The Ziegler farm is a dairy farm (approximately 176 acres) and the Wildenberg farm is over 90% cropped land (approximately 69 acres).
The program is voluntary and fully funded with reimbursements from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). The $5 million in state funds are available to Dane County through the USH 12 reconstruction project as a result of the negotiations Falk conducted with then Governor Tommy Thompson, representatives from the National Park Service, DOT and others. The agreement that Falk reached during this process resulted in DOT providing $5 million for Dane County over five years to ameliorate the sprawl impacts of the USH 12 project. Purchasing development rights helps farmers continue to farm and preserves the scenic beauty and natural resources of the area.
In addition, the County has applied for funding from USDA Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) to partially reimburse the County for these two new easements. That application is pending.
“Through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, we have already partnered with Dane County on another easement on the Hwy 12 corridor,” said Pat Leavenworth, State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “That parcel was 95 percent prime farmland, and will be farmed according to a soil and water conservation plan.”
A resolution authorizing the purchase was introduced to the County Board Thursday, June 2 for action and signature by the County Executive.