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Dane Co. to preserve 466 acres along Sugar River

County says acquisition will open miles of Sugar River, hundreds of acres to public

MADISON, Wis. - Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Monday that the county has reached an agreement with the Bruce Company to acquire and permanently protect hundreds of acres south of Verona along the Sugar River.

Details of the proposal to purchase and preserve 466 acres and over 2.5 miles of riverfront on the Sugar River were announced at a news conference on the Bruce Company property Monday.

While the goal of the purchase is to protect the land, county officials said it has excellent recreational potential.

"Whether it's paddling a canoe to Paoli, camping along the banks of the Sugar River or hiking with the family among tens of thousands of trees, this is truly a once in a generation opportunity to forever protect a true gem," Parisi said in a news release. "The options for outdoor recreation are endless and thanks to the stewardship of the Bruce Company, this will truly be a destination for families from Dane County and beyond."

Parisi said that in addition to water recreation like canoeing and fishing, the property also offers great promise for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. The land part of this purchase and permanent conservation easement stretches from the intersection of Highway 69 and Sunset Lane in the Town of Verona, south to Paoli and east to Range Trail, according to a news release.

Under the agreement, the county looks to purchase 340 acres. The additional 126 acres would be placed in a conservation easement to limit future development. The total purchase price is $3,054,000.

Parisi said Dane County and the Bruce Company will cooperatively manage transition of the property, including access to remaining nursery stock.

The Bruce Company will still keep 600 acres in that area for its operations.

The nearly 2.5 miles of Sugar River that flows through this property is known for excellent trout fishing and a recent assessment by the DNR noted numerous species of fish in this stretch of river.

"It's a big beautiful stream, 2 and a half miles of it, with beautiful topography -- those oak trees. It's just going to be a stunning setting," said Topf Wells, of Trout Unlimited.

The Sugar River was removed from the National Impaired Waters list in 2004 and this acquisition will help the county's ongoing work to enhance this watershed and the lands surrounding it, according to Dane County.

The county will work with the Natural Heritage Land Trust and other private partners to secure additional funding for the project.

Pending review and approval of the Dane County Board of Supervisors in the weeks ahead, Dane County said it hopes to close on ownership of the property this spring.

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