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

County Executive, Holy Wisdom Monastery, Announce Agreement to Preserve 65 Acres in North Mendota Watershed

July 18, 2013
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858; Mike Sweitzer-Beckman, Holy Wisdom Monastery (608) 836-1631 x 124 or cell (608) 212-9852
County Executive



Land Would Lead to Permanent Trail Access for Public; Boost to Lake Clean Up,

Cycling and Motorist Safety


Dane County has reached an agreement with the Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery that would permanently protect 65 acres of prairie in a key area of the North Mendota Watershed, securing public access to trails and boosting efforts to clean up lakes and improve local road safety, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


Parisi, surrounded by dozens of supporters of the agreement, outlined details of the proposal at an announcement at Holy Wisdom Monastery on Thursday. 


The purchase would be the largest land acquisition by the county located so close to the shores of Lake Mendota, and the largest purchase in the North Mendota Watershed in the last five years.


“For years county residents and visitors have had the chance to escape to the outdoors and reflect as they hike the peaceful prairie trails at Holy Wisdom Monastery,” said Parisi.  “This agreement helps ensure that a total of 200 acres of unique prairie overlooking the shores of Lake Mendota will be protected forever, reduce algae-causing phosphorus runoff from entering the lake after heavy rains, and will remain open to the public to enjoy for generations to come.”


Dane County and Holy Wisdom Monastery have a shared goal of caring for the natural resources that contribute to Dane County’s high quality of life.  Over the years, the county and hundreds of volunteers have helped the monastery restore 95 acres of prairie surrounding its grounds and install a stormwater retention basin, aiding lake clean up in a key part of the county’s watershed. 


This restoration has helped greatly reduce stormwater and sediment runoff, recharge our ground water supply, and has improved the quality of water that eventually reaches Lake Mendota.


"Caring for the earth is an important part of the mission of the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery," said Mary David Walgenbach, OSB, prioress at Holy Wisdom Monastery. "We are pleased to partner with Dane County in this way as we continue to restore and preserve land on the north side of Lake Mendota, and continue to build on our mission and relationships with the people of Dane County."


The agreement will be introduced at the July 18th meeting of the Dane County Board of Supervisors by Supervisor Sharon Corrigan.


“For clean lakes, public safety, and recreational opportunities, this purchase makes sense,” said Corrigan.  “By keeping runoff out of our lakes, providing space for safer biking, and encouraging hiking in this beautiful spot, we are making the right move for Dane County.  I'm proud to sponsor this as the County Board begins consideration of the purchase.”


Parisi added that the purchase agreement would include an additional five acre easement on the property that would help pave the way for a new off-road bike trail, helping to improve road safety for motorists and cyclists along a heavily traveled stretch of County Highway M. 


Future plans could link the trail with existing trails, creating a multiple community trail from Middleton, through the Town of Westport, to Waunakee.


The total purchase price for the acquisition is $929,000, with the county utilizing funds from its Lake Preservation Fund. 


Pending review and approval of the County Board of Supervisors, Dane County hopes to close on ownership of the property this summer.


To learn more about the Holy Wisdom Monastery please visit

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