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County Board Supervisors, Executive Falk, Announce Clean Lakes and Parks Initiatives in Proposed 2005 County Budget

For more information contact:

Sharyn Wisniewski, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9/30/2004

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Board Supervisors and County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced budget initiatives for next year to preserve county lakes, streams and land.

“People here in Dane County love our lakes, streams, parks and natural areas. They are a big part of what makes Dane County such a great place to live. This budget invests in and improves those natural assets,” said Falk, at a press conference at the Tenney Park Locks on Lake Mendota.

“The spring and summer’s heavy rains, the resulting high water levels, and the algae blooms on Lake Kegonsa earlier this summer reminded us how much we use and cherish our lakes,” said Falk. “The lakes’ underlying water quality is good and they offer an astounding range of recreational opportunities. However, we need to act now to preserve these resources.”

Falk credited the work of County Board Supervisors in developing the water and parks proposals.

The budget initiatives focus on partnerships to share costs, involve local communities, and obtain state and federal grants.

The capital budget will contain $70,000 to fund a pilot cost-sharing program with municipalities around the Yahara chain of lakes to improve old storm sewers that dump wholly untreated storm water and litter into our lakes. In many cases, these can be retro-fitted to filter out debris and trap some sediment. Some of these projects may also be eligible for state funding.

"Polluted runoff from city streets and farm fields is the number one lake polluter," said Supervisor Brett Hulsey, Chair of the Lakes and Watersheds Commission. "We appreciate the County Executive working with the Commission to create a Clean Water Fund to help clean up this pollution.

The budget also contains $50,000 for stream bank restoration. Stream bank restoration improves water quality and fish habitat. This program may also allow the county to capture federal grant funds.

A three-year program is started in the budget to replace aging weed cutter barges. It also continues upgrading the Sheriff’s Lake Patrol with the purchase of a new boat ($65,000). In both instances, the state will partner with the county by offering 60% funding reimbursement of the barge and of almost 70% over five years for the patrol boat.

Supervisor Bill Graf said, "Even in a tight budget, neglecting our lakes should not be an option. Replacing the aging, leaky weed barges that keep breaking down and even sinking will increase the amount of weed harvesting we can do by reducing down time for maintenance and repairs."

The final water initiative builds on work done by the county’s Land Conservation Department review of the county’s management of area lake levels. They discovered that a focused dredging project at the Mud Lake railroad trestle will improve the ability to move water through the system, especially during high water conditions. This project is funded at $35,000 with 60% state reimbursement of the total project cost.

"Targeted dredging can help pull the plug on high waters," said Supervisor Andy Olsen. "To reduce runoff volumes and pollution, we also need better building practices that can help protect the lakes that bring so much value to our lives."

Equally important as water in Dane County is land. The capital budget proposes a return to the traditional level of spending for the New Conservation Fund -- $3 million. With the Old Conservation Fund maintained at $647,000, the county will be able to protect land and continue to implement the Parks & Open Spaces Plan.

Supervisor Al Matano said, “Spending money from the Conservation Fund is a wise investment in our future — not only will we preserve open space that will preserve our quality of life, but we will purchase lands that will only become more expensive in the future.”

To help maintain the parks system and plan for the preservation of newly acquired lands, the budget package restores the nationally renowned Parks Internship Program ($20,000).

Supervisor Kyle Richmond said, "Restoration of the Parks Department's Internship Program is very important, not only for our parks but for the training ground it provides for our young people. The program helps maintain Dane County's precious open spaces while teaching stewardship in conservation and sustainable land use techniques. It's invaluable."

"The commitment and vision to protect the natural environment that makes Dane County so special are embodied in these funding proposals,” said Falk.

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