City, county and state officials are marking Earth Day with an announcement on Tuesday regarding their joint acquisition of 259 acres in Cherokee Marsh wetlands and adjacent Yahara uplands. Pending approval this coming Thursday by the Dane County Board of Supervisors, a Dane County Conservation Fund grant of $794,000 would facilitate the "largest conservation land purchase in Madison history," according to the press release generated by today's event.
The non-profit Natural Heritage Land Trust was instrumental in coordinating the purchase. The news release quotes Jim Welsh, the trust's executive director, who notes that the acquisition includes "the largest unprotected part of the marsh's south side."
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank joined Welsh and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk at the announcement. In addition to the county contribution, the City of Madison is donating $779,000 toward the acquistion, and the DNR is kicking in $1.5 million from Wisconsin's Knowles/Nelson Stewardship Fund.
The total sum will purchase the acreage in the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area -- straddling the border between the City of Madison and the Town of Burke -- from current owner Dennis Tiziani's Cherokee Park, Inc.
"What better way to celebrate Earth Week than for the County to give these dollars to help preserve these pristine natural areas for citizens to enjoy forever," declared Falk in the releas. "Protecting these wetlands will help keep our lakes blue, ensure a home for so much wonderful wildlife, and offer outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking and biking."
In addition to yielding environmental benefits for the marsh and the water quality of Lake Mendota, the purchase will help spur development of a bicycle/pedestrian trail planned as a link between the northern and southern halves of the marsh.