Groundswell has received a $38,300 grant from Madison Community Foundation. The grant will be used to build stronger relationships between people and the land at our nature preserves at Westport Prairie east of Waunakee and Patrick Marsh east of Sun Prairie.

“Protecting land is really about connecting people with land, because if people don’t know or love a place, they probably won’t care about it.  That is why we want to make it possible for more people to enjoy and learn about natural areas near them, like Westport Prairie and Patrick Marsh,” said Jim Welsh, executive director of Groundswell. “I recently saw the results of a public opinion survey[1]about our community. The survey found that in spite of a consensus that the quality of life is good in Dane County, many of us individually do not have a strong sense of community that provides optimism for the future.  We are worried about jobs, our families, and economic inequality, but many of us do take advantage of nearby outdoor places to exercise and relax.  As an organization that protects wonderful natural places, I believe that Groundswell can help people have positive experiences in wonderful natural areas near where they live, by sharing common experiences, meeting neighbors, and feeling welcomed. This generous grant from Madison Community Foundation will help make these good things happen.”

The Growing Community Places program has allowed Groundswell to hire a new employee, Tony Abate, to connect people with the land protected by Groundswell. Tony brings outdoor experience and critical thinking to his job, plus a large dose of enthusiasm. Tony is now coordinating our on-the-ground land management and engaging the public with our nature preserves. His priorities are to expand activities that bring school groups and community members to our preserves, such as education days and field trips, and to coordinate volunteer work parties. For example, last week Tony held a listening session at Westport Prairie to get community ideas about how the 10-acre Koltes Farmstead that Groundswell bought last winter could be made into a gateway for the preserve.


Groundswell is a local, non-profit, community-based organization that protects natural areas, wildlife habitat, working farms, lakes and streams, and recreation land in and around Dane County. Since 1983, Groundswell has permanently protected more than 10,100 acres of land and water.

Madison Community Foundation uses its local knowledge and assets to inspire giving, support meaningful initiatives, and connect people for the common good. It was established in 1942 as a tax-exempt community trust and is governed by a Board of Governors representing the broad interests of the community. Individuals and organizations interested in establishing an endowment with Madison Community Foundation or donating money to its general fund may find more information online at

[1] Values Survey, A Greater Madison Vision, Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, February 2015