Today we purchased an agricultural conservation easement over 93 acres of farmland. The farm is located on the south side of Black Earth Creek. It is adjacent to a streambank easement held by the DNR along 3,000 feet of the creek. Black Earth Creek remains a healthy trout stream thanks to a dependable supply of groundwater. The soil on the farm is among the most productive in the state and nation.

This easement prevents development of the farm and keeps the rich soil available for farming. Also, it limits the construction of impervious surfaces to a one-acre portion of the farm. Impervious surfaces prevent rain and snow from seeping into the ground. Instead, rain and snow is forced into the creek, carrying sediment with it.  So limiting the amount of pavement and rooftops is important to the long-term health of the creek.

We thank the conservation-minded landowners for their foresight about the future of farming. According to the landowners, “For the past 70 years, our family has farmed in the Black Earth Valley. We have enjoyed the beautiful area and the rich, fertile soil that has helped produce our crops. Working with Groundswell Conservancy provided us the opportunity to protect this farmland from the development pressures of Dane County and have it continue to produce food to feed our country and our world. ” The farm will remain in private ownership and on the property tax rolls.

Funding to purchase the agricultural conservation easement was provided by the Dane County Conservation Fund, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Groundswell’s Norm Anderson Conservation Opportunities Fund.

Thanks to the conservation vision of many landowners, this is the 17th land protection project Groundswell has completed in the valley since 2001.  Overall we have worked together to permanently protect 1,209 acres of farmland, wetlands, stream corridors, and hiking trails in the valley.