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Dane County

Continuing a Tradition of Valuing Land

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Image Credit: Sue Jones

Dane County, located in southern Wisconsin, is home to ecologically critical lands, such as the Yahara Waterways, Cherokee Marsh, and Token Creek. The various parks and ecosystems in the county highlight these resources, and provide means for public enjoyment.

Wisconsin has a tradition of valuing its land and agriculture, but as the population increased, so did threats to the environment. To protect the land, two main approaches were established: the classification of Natural Resource Areas and the Nine Spring E-Way.

Natural Resource Areas, or NRAs, are sections of land that are protected and federally recognized for their ecological value. Dane County, for instance, in the 1970’s classified Cherokee Marsh, a crucial wetland in the county, and Token Creek, a tributary to several main lakes in Madison, as NRAs. Since then, twenty-five new NRAs have been established, including Black Earth Creek and other areas significant for animal habitats.

The Nine Spring E-Way, another approach used by the county for open space conservation, is an environmental corridor seven miles long. The corridor, which includes hiking and biking trails in some places, meanders through wetlands, native forests, sedge meadows, and various springs in the area. This creative effort promotes conservation, as well as public enjoyment of the land.

Additional Information:
Natural Resource Areas in Dane County
Nine Springs E-Way

Contact: Brian Standing, Senior Planner, Department of Planning and Development, Dane County, standing “at” co.dane.wi.us, (608) 267-4115.

Reference: Pruetz, Rick. 2012. Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes.  Planners Press. 232 pp.