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Dane County to purchase 79 acres in town of Middleton for wetland restoration, flood water storage

Dane County to purchase 79 acres in town of Middleton for wetland restoration, flood water storage

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County land purchase

Dane County plans to buy 79 acres of land for $4 million at the source of Black Earth Creek in the town of Middleton to advance wetland restoration efforts and create more flood-water storage in an area that saw heavy rainfall and flooding in 2018.

The purchase would also expand the Black Earth Creek Natural Resource Area, which is adjacent to the land, County Executive Joe Parisi said Thursday.

The resource area offers some 94 acres for hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities.

By keeping the land from being developed and restoring it to a prairie, about 5.9 million gallons of water will be prevented from flowing downstream each year, Parisi said.

The county is “committed to restoring wetlands” in an effort to prevent water from flowing downstream during heavy rain, Parisi said.

The purchase should also help the county to improve the water quality of Black Earth Creek, he said.

Town of Middleton property

The property includes a roughly 40-acre designated FEMA flood storage area. It has a significant upland buffer, which will be restored to native vegetation, Parisi said.

The 79 acres would be purchased from Judith Hellenbrand and the Hellenbrand Family Trust. The land is a mix of cropland, wood and grass-covered hillsides and farmstead. It also contains wetland and upland areas with many high-quality habitats and unique plants, Parisi said.

The county’s 2020 budget includes $6 million for the Flood Risk Reduction Fund to help buy land that can be used for better runoff management during heavy rainfall.

The proposed purchase will be introduced to the County Board next week at its Thursday meeting.

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