Dane County Named One of Nation's Top 20 Nature-Friendly Communities; Farm-City Cooperation Saves Natural Resources
June 24, 2005
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced that Dane County was named one of the most nature-friendly areas in the United States, according to a book released Friday June 24 by Island Press. Entitled Nature-Friendly Communities, the book highlights nineteen communities that lead the nation in safeguarding local landscapes, natural resources and wildlife.
Speaking at a press conference on the Ice Age Trail in Verona, Falk said, “This honor recognizes something citizens of Dane County have known for a long time. The combination of our fabulous lakes, streams, farmland, parks and bike paths make our county a great place for nature-lovers to live.”
“Dane County is pulling off one of the most challenging natural resource protection juggling acts in the nation,” stated author Chris Duerksen. “Rapid growth in the Madison metropolitan area, often cited as one of the country’s most desirable places to live, was pitting farmers against the urbanites. But far-sighted leaders forged a consensus through thoughtful regulation and imaginative incentives that is allowing manageable growth while still protecting agricultural lands, lakes, wetlands and streams.”
As Dane County became one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the Midwest, residents worried that sprawl would consume valuable farmland and would alter much of the area’s appeal and threaten its water supply. The consequences could be enormous for the county’s 2500 farms and the urban and rural charm of the counties’ 60 cities, towns and villages.
The county has taken many steps to encourage redevelopment and growth while protecting the land, including overwhelmingly passing a Conservation referendum to buy parks and open space and the BUILD program that awards grants to municipalities to redevelop and revitalize downtowns. Most recently, County Executive Falk has launched Attain Dane – a land use initiative that will use citizen input to create a county-wide map of where we want to grow and what we want to preserve as a county.
Other communities listed are: Austin, TX; Baltimore County, MD; Eugene, OR; Ft. Collins, CO; Pima County AZ; Placer County, CA; Sanibel, FL; Twin Cities, MN, Bath Township, OH; Charlotte Harbor, FL, Chicago, IL; Dekalb County, GA; Farmington Valley, CT; King County, WA; Pittsford, NY; Powell County, MT; Teton County, WY and Traverse Bay, MI. For more information on this book, visit www.naturefriendlytools.org.
Chris Duerksen is a nationally recognized land use planning consultant who has worked with local governments all over the country. He is Managing Director of Clarion Associates and a cofounder of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute. He has authored many books and articles on land use and conservation issues.
Lesley Sillaman, 267-8823 or 669-5606