Groundswell and Dane County swapped land to improve management of two public natural areas on November 28th, 2016.
Dane County donated 14 acres of land on the south side of Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area (map), on the eastern doorstep of Sun Prairie, to Groundswell. The land is adjacent to the 80 acres owned by Groundswell and is part of a 320-acre wildlife area. In exchange, Groundswell donated 40 acres of land north of Waunakee to Dane County. This land, the Wilke Prairie Preserve (map), is adjacent to the County’s Waunakee Prairie.
At Patrick Marsh, Groundswell has been working with Patrick Marsh Conservancy, Sun Prairie Rotary, Patrick Marsh Middle School, and other groups to improve trails and restore wildlife habitat. In November, 250 students from Patrick Marsh Middle School planted 18 acres of prairie in a field on the south side of the marsh. This fall the Land Trust officially adopted the DNR land at the marsh and will work on more improvements to wildlife habitat. The Land Trust works with volunteers, a summer intern crew, Operation Fresh Start, and others to make the wildlife area more accessible, educational, and enjoyable for everyone.
The land Dane County is gaining in this swap, the Wilke Prairie Preserve on Six Mile Creek north of Waunakee, was created in 1994 when Hazel Knudson donated 40 acres to Groundswell. According to Land Trust Executive Director Jim Welsh, “Hazel’s original goal had been to see her land become part of the county’s system of parks and natural resource areas. It’s nice to see that 22 years later we could fulfill Hazel’s wishes.”
According to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, “The land exchanges with Groundswell are wonderful examples of how Dane County continues to collaborate with our conservation partners to deliver a quality and seamless recreational experience for residents of and visitors to Dane County. These exchanges will increase management efficiencies and reduce operating costs by consolidating land holdings where the County or the Land Trust already owns other conservation and recreational lands. My special thanks to Groundswell for all it does to further the goals of the County’s Parks and Open Space Plan.”