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

County Kicks Off Endowment to Strengthen County Park System for Generations to Come

May 12, 2014
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858
County Executive


The county is kicking off a new fund to benefit the Dane County park system this week, “The Friends of the Dane County Parks Endowment,” to help strengthen the county’s parks and enhance all that they offer for generations to come, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


“Our county parks connect more than 2 million visitors to some of the finest natural resources and outdoor recreation in the region,” said Parisi. “This new endowment will help us bring even more people into our parks and enhance that experience for everyone. In addition to hiking and biking trails, fishing streams, disc golf and dog parks, the endowment will enable us to offer naturalist talks, nature walks, and more.”


Joined by endowment and parks volunteers and supporters, Parisi outlined details of the new fund and an early opportunity coming up for the public to learn more and lend their support:


A kick-off fundraising event for the endowment will be held this Thursday, May 15thfrom 5pm to 7pm at the Lussier Family Heritage Center at Lake Farm County Park, 3101 Lake Farm Road, in Madison.


The event will feature appearances and remarks from former Dane County Executives Jonathan Barry, Rick Phelps, and Kathleen Falk, and current County Executive Parisi.


Many of the county’s park amenities are available to the public for free.  The “Friends of the Dane County Parks Endowment” will enable the county’s Parks Division to enhance the parks experience for the more than 2 million people who visit them every year, and to attract even more people to the parks. 


The endowment was made possible through a public/private partnership with the Madison Community Foundation (MCF). The foundation is offering a 2 to 1 matching grant of $50,000 through December of 2014 to help the endowment get off to a strong start.


“We’re really fortunate to have the number and quality of parks that we have in Dane County,” said Bob Sorge, Madison Community Foundation President. “Madison Community Foundation has been a strong supporter of our parks system – giving over 50 grants for projects in Dane County Parks in the last decade. We are honored to steward this endowment.”


Endowment funds will be used to help bolster the efforts of the county’s thousands of park volunteers, including nearly 20 friends groups that support their local county parks with events, clean up work, and more.


The funds could help these groups offer more naturalist walks and campfire talks, interpretive signing along hiking trails and educational displays at park historical sites, day camps and other programming to connect school groups or underserved populations with the parks, and more.


“This endowment is set up to be a permanent private source of funding for enhancing interpretive programming in our County Parks.  With the endowment, we can help support the wonderful work our Friends groups are doing with very limited resources in nearly twenty of our Parks throughout the County,” said Bill Lunney, Dane County Park Commission Chair.  “Government funds can only go so far and as our county grows, we need to have a Park System that will keep up with that growth." 


To learn more about the endowment, and/or to donate, please visit


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