Dane County purchased the 160-acre property (former Acker Farm) in 2019 as an addition to the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The county is partnering with community organizations on the planning and implementation of restoration projects for the site. Restoration will increase flood capacity, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. Sediment and phosphorus loading will be significantly reduced within the Pheasant Branch Watershed, positively impacting Lake Mendota. The prairie restoration will use a platinum seed mix consisting of at least 75 different plant species which will provide a diverse habitat for wildlife.
Staff are also conducting two long-term monitoring projects to assess the effects of prairie restoration on the Acker parcel. First, whenever there is runoff from rainfall or snowmelt, water samples from the parcel are collected and analyzed for phosphorus and other water quality variables. Over time, these samples will be used to estimate the water quality benefits of the restoration. Second, soil samples are collected annually to track changes in soil phosphorus and organic matter. Both of these efforts will continue for the foreseeable future to monitor for long-term changes that may be slow to occur.
Sara Rigelman, Park Property Planner
Dane County Land and Water Resources Department - Parks Division
5201 Fen Oak Drive
Madison, WI 53718