Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office
Land in Dane County

2019 County Budget & Initiatives: Land & Water

Dane County recently initiated a study with Dynamic Concepts to map out where potential new digesters could be located to both maximize water quality improvements while reducing methane emissions. This work will eventually lead to a report that identifies where new digesters could be built to get more manure off the land and into tanks for processing into financially lucrative bio-gas. The budget includes $200,000 to help prepare design specifications for additional digesters shared by farms in sensitive watersheds.

In tandem with the digester mapping analysis underway, I’m including $1 million for implementation of further clean lake strategies in the coming year, creating opportunities for further partnership with agricultural producers.

Suck the Muck

“Suck the Muck” started in full force in 2018 with the removal of thousands of tons of phosphorus soaked sediment in over two miles of Dorn Creek, just north of Lake Mendota.

Water quality testing downstream of the hydraulic dredging has confirmed less phosphorus is Lake Mendota bound.

Lower Yahara River Trail

Relying on a data driven approach, we will continue testing waterways to identify the highest concentrations of sludge in these streams and prioritize where “Suck the Muck” is needed next. As mentioned above, similar hydraulic dredging could very well be part of the solution to moving lake water faster through the Yahara Chain. I’m including $2.5 million in this budget for the next phase of work in 2019.

With a great deal of that future corridor already identified, design and planning of this second phase of the Lower Yahara River Trail is proceeding in earnest. Perhaps the one thing more gratifying than the continued public use and enjoyment of the Lower Yahara River Trail is the reality that plans are already in the works to make this and other outdoor destinations even better in the coming years. Design work will occur in 2019 for the next phase of the Glacial Drumlin Trail, beginning to bridge the final gap in this state trail that spans from Iowa County all the way to southeast Wisconsin.

In addition to new trails, we continue to make improvements to existing trail networks. The first phase of reconstruction of the Capital City Trail occurred last summer. While flooding slowed progress, that project is well on its way to completion. I’m including $900,000 in next year’s budget to continue pavement restoration of about three miles of the Capital City Trail - the second of a three year effort to restore asphalt surfacing on this trail that has over 150,000 users annually.

Dane County Parks

Our parks are one of Dane County’s greatest success stories. With an estimated 2.4-million users in 2017, twice as many people visit our parks today than back in 2009. Camping and shelter reservation numbers are more than three times what they were in 2009 – over 4,400 last year compared to just over 1,200 eight years before that. In recognition of the continued growing interest and use of our parks, the budget adds an additional lead park ranger position.

We must also be mindful of opportunities to make sure our parks and trails are accessible to everyone. We’ve done a good job connecting those of diverse backgrounds with county recreational offerings. Thanks to the good thinking of Parks Commission Chair Bill Lunney, this budget takes the next step forward in that work. Over the next few years we will work to convert all piers in county park facilities so they are accessible to everyone. This budget has the first phase of $100,000 of funding to start this work in 2019. A number of our piers already offer these accommodations, but we’ve identified ten additional locations where improvements can be made to better connect everyone with the joy that comes being by the water.