Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Land Restoration

The Dane County Park System manages over 17,000 acres of land that staff, volunteers and partner organizations work to protect, improve and restore. Some of these restoration efforts are described below and include:

  • Seed collection
  • Controlled burning
  • Forestry
  • Natural areas management
  • Invasive species management
  • Volunteer program


Seed Collection Program

Each year volunteers, staff, partners, and Operation Fresh Start participants collect and process native plant seed from prairie, savanna, wetland, and woodland ecosystems. In 2019 the seed collected had an estimated worth of approximately $600,000 and will be used to help restore over 170 acres of land. Without seed collection efforts, this level of restoration would not be financially possible.

Controlled Burn Program

Natural habitats rely upon regular and reoccurring fire to remain diverse, resilient, and capable of providing an array of ecological functions that we depend on. Staff and volunteers conduct prescribed burns on over 650 acres of county-owned land every year to help combat brush, manage invasive species, and maintain healthy native habitats. Each of these areas is burned every 1-5 years depending on the type of natural community and the management objectives for the site. For ideal management, prairie should be burned more frequently (every 1-3 years) and wooded sites every 2-5 years. Sites that have less invasive brush and weeds can go longer without fire than sites where invasives are more prevalent.

Forestry Program

Staff work to maintain county-owned forests and trees, clean up fallen trees, and diversify the species of trees planted. Learn more on our Forestry Program webpage.

Natural Areas Program

The Dane County Park System contains over 9,000 acres of natural areas including prairies, wetlands, oak woodlands, and forests. The Natural Areas Program aims to restore and sustain natural communities while helping to foster a deeper connection to our natural resources. Learn more on our Natural Areas Program webpage.

Invasive Species Management

Dane County Parks manages over 12,000 acres of land and invasive species management is a top priority. Management options include cutting, prescribed fire, mowing, herbicide, and biological control. Learn more on our Invasive Species Management webpage.


If you are interested in volunteering to help with land restoration efforts, contact the Dane County Parks Volunteer Coordinator.