Dane County to Purchase 82 Acres of Property for Floodwater Storage in the Yahara Watershed

October 15, 2019
Ariana Vruwink, (608) 267-8823
County Executive

Today, County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Dane County will purchase 82 acres of property in the Town of Vienna to help provide floodwater storage in the Yahara Watershed. The property is located next to Highway V, which was closed for an extended period of time last year due to extensive groundwater flooding. The acquisition of this area will assist with floodwater storage and mitigation, protect and enhance wetland, help maintain and improve water quality, and provide public access for nature-based outdoor recreation. It is estimated that the property will hold about 13.4 million gallons of water during a flood event.

“We are excited to acquire this land for floodwater storage capacity in the Yahara Watershed and prevent water from being funneled directly into our chain of lakes after heavy rain events,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “My 2020 budget includes $3 million to create the Flood Risk Reduction Fund for purchases just like this, so we can both look for land conservation opportunities that improve stormwater run-off management and create outdoor recreation locations.” 

Approximately 43 acres of the property is made up of wetland, and the remaining acreage is cropped. The parcel is located within the Yahara River Watershed, neighboring lands along County Highway V. This location has become a water drainage area for approximately 5,000 acres north of the highway. The property has a relatively shallow depth to groundwater, making it ideal for promoting and enhancing wetland functions for floodwater storage and groundwater protection.

The parcel sits adjacent to a 40-acre Waterfowl Production Area owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). The USFWS’s property protects habitat for waterfowl, including mallards and blue winged teal and provides habitat for migratory birds such as sand hill cranes, herons, egrets and marsh wrens. USFWS supports the county’s purchase of the 82-acre parcel to significantly enhance the wetland habitat for waterfowl, create future upland to attract grassland birds, and provide additional lands for public recreation.

The property is being purchased from the Koch Family Farm, LLC for $779,000, with an agreement that one member will continue cropping according to Conservation and Nutrient Management Plans for the next 10 years. Funds for the purchase are available in the Dane County Conservation Fund. A resolution approving the acquisition will be introduced at the County Board’s Thursday meeting.