On Friday, December 20, 2019, Groundswell purchased 5 acres of land near Cross Plains in the Black Earth Creek valley. This success is thanks to a conservation-minded family and strong community support for protecting the creek.

The property is adjacent to state-owned land on the east side of Cross Plains between Hwy. 14 and the railroad tracks. This acquisition helps fill-in the project boundaries for the DNR’s Black Earth Creek Fishery Area and Dane County’s Black Earth Creek Natural Resource Area. The land will be open to the public for outdoor recreation activities.

Best of all, this acquisition forever prevents the development of the property. A 2003 study by the University of Wisconsin estimated that 4.5% of the valley was already covered with impervious surfaces like pavement and rooftops. A generally accepted rule of thumb is that stream health begins to decline when impervious surface reaches 10% and becomes severely degraded when imperviousness exceeds 30 percent. I don’t know how much impervious surface is in the valley today, but is has surely increased since 2003.

Here is a map showing the nearly 1,000 acres of land Groundswell has permanently protected in the Black Earth Creek valley since 2003. Your support has made it possible to create public conservancy areas, trails, and public access along streams that feed into Black Earth Creek and place agricultural conservation easements that limit impervious surface. Each project gets us a little closer to completing the puzzle of conservation in the Black Earth Creek valley.

Funding to purchase the property came from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, Dane County Conservation Fund, Southern Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and supporters of Groundswell, including the estate of Marie Fraser.