Our success stories are usually about preserving the conservation values of private land for future private or public users.  But thanks to a new collaboration by Groundswell and the Town of Perry on the southwest side of Dane County, the conservation values of a public property have just been protected forever.

About a year and a half ago, Roger Kittleson, the Chairman of the Town of Perry, sent Groundswell a letter asking if we would consider a conservation easement to protect a Town park.  The conservation easement was signed by the Town earlier this week, thanks to efforts by Doug King, CEO of The Madison Group Consultants, and Town Supervisor Mick Klein Kennedy.

The new conservation easement provides an extra layer of protection to a unique Town park. The Town of Perry created the 30-acre Hauge Historic District Park in 2001 around the privately owned, two-acre Hauge Log Church National Historic Site to protect the scenic view of the Blue Mounds and its peace and serenity from the effects of neighboring development.  It took the Town’s residents two decades of sustained effort to protect the park with a Historic Preservation Plan, a Historic District Ordinance, Dane County’s first Historic Overlay District, Wisconsin’s first Town level Historic District, a DNR deed restriction, a Dane County deed restriction, and protective provisions in the Town’s Land Use Plan.

But even with all of those protections in place, Town Supervisors and Town residents were concerned that the protections could still be undone, revised, or relaxed.  As Town Chairman Kittleson suggested in his proposal to Groundswell, “The park still needs to be permanently protected in perpetuity against ‘our future selves.’”

The unique property was approved by the Dane County Board as a Dane County Historical and Cultural Site in its 2018-2023 Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan.  The acquisition of the park land was made possible with strong public support from former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and former U.S. Ambassador to Norway Tom Loftus, and letters of encouragement from the King and Queen of Norway.

The park is the second highest public park observation point in Dane County, with several miles of mowed hiking trails and a spectacular view of the Blue Mounds.  It was voted “Best Place to Watch a Sunset in Dane County” by Madison Magazine.  It is open year round from sunrise to sunset.  A park brochure with visitor guide and hiking trail map can be downloaded here.

We are pleased and excited to have completed this public-private partnership to help protect a special and unique place of public land forever.