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County buys 65 acres near Lake Mendota in nearly $1M deal | Environment

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County buys 65 acres near Lake Mendota in nearly $1M deal
County buys 65 acres near Lake Mendota in nearly $1M deal

Dane County will buy 65 acres of land near the north side of Lake Mendota from a local religious group in a nearly $1 million deal, officials said.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said on Thursday that the county would acquire the land from the Middleton-based Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery for $929,000.

Parisi said the purchase agreement included an additional five acre easement on the property that would help plans for a new off-road bike trail to improve road safety for motorists and cyclists along a heavily traveled stretch of County Highway M. 

In a news release, county leaders said the decision to purchase the property was made to help maintain lakes, increase public safety and continue the recreational opportunities the area provides.

Dane County said it shares the goal with Holy Wisdom Monastery of caring for local natural resources and over the years, the county and hundreds of volunteers have helped the monastery restore 95 acres of prairie surrounding its grounds and install a storm water retention basin, aiding lake clean up in a key part of the county’s watershed. 

The restoration helped reduce storm water and sediment runoff, recharge ground water supply and improved the quality of water that leads into Lake Mendota, according to the county executive’s office.

Mary David Walgenbach, prioress at Holy Wisdom Monastery, said the organization was pleased with the agreement and would continue to work with the county to preserve the land around the monastery property.

The county used funds from its Lake Preservation Fund to buy the land, Parisi said.

Dane County hopes to close on ownership of the property this summer pending review and approval of the County Board of Supervisors. The agreement will be introduced at the board’s Thursday meeting.

Future plans could link the trail with existing trails, creating a multiple community trail from Middleton, through the town of Westport, to Waunakee, Parisi added.

The monastery is at 4200 Highway M in Middleton.

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