Groundswell and the City of Madison finalized the purchase of 5.8 acres in the urban wetland park on December 6. The joint effort represents the last opportunity to put wetland and upland in the South Unit of the City’s Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park under permanent protection. This is Groundswell’s fifth acquisition at Cherokee Marsh.
Cherokee Marsh is a high-quality wetland within the Yahara River watershed and the largest in Dane County. The Wisconsin Wetlands Association named Cherokee Marsh a “wetland gem” in 2009, noting its value as a complex ecosystem that hosts many species of native plants, provides wildlife habitat and serves as a natural filter of upland runoff.
Beyond its ecological significance, Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park is a recreational magnet for Madison area residents who enjoy hiking and skiing its trails. It also serves as an environmental classroom for thousands of students each year. The newly protected addition to the park is located across the street from Gompers Elementary School/Black Hawk Middle School.
Groundswell and the City worked with Dennis Tiziani of Cherokee Park, Inc., who agreed to sell the property at less than its appraised value. The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, Dane County Conservation Fund, the City of Madison and members of Groundswell funded the purchase and Friends of Cherokee Marsh generated crucial local support.