The City of Madison may purchase a North Side forest to preserve and expand an already-existing park.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and alders from the city’s north side propose to purchase 22 acres of the land, costing 2.1 million dollars, from Cherokee Park Inc., according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

UW professor of human dimensions of ecosystem management Adena Rissman said while the price of the purchase seems expensive, land is expensive in cities. 

“If we don’t buy them, then we don’t end up with a park system with places for people to go,” Rissman said.

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The land is located near the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, expanding on Whitetail Ridge Park, parks superintendent Eric Knepp said in an interview with Wisconsin State Journal.

Whitetail Ridge Park currently features a basketball court, a soccer field and a playground, according to the City of Madison website. The expansion will be used for hiking trails and nature recreation, Knepp said.

In addition, the expansion will help preserve the forest, which is a high priority throughout this project, Knepp said.

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The land is a densely wooded area home to mature native trees and unique landscape features, similar to those in the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park system, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Over the past century, Madison has benefitted from a robust park district, the City of Madison Parks Division, Rissman said. The park district has enabled projects like this one to occur.

In the past, the CMPD has protected parks of all sizes throughout the city as it has expanded, providing Madison residents with a variety of free and family-friendly recreational opportunities, Rissman said.

The purchase of the North Side forest will hopefully not be CMPD’s last project, Rissman said. Instead, she thinks it will be beneficial if they continue to expand their parks system in the future.

“In urban areas, it’s very important to consider the land uses around the parks, the community needs and the important values that the preserve can help maintain such as outdoor recreation, such as hiking, biking trails and the ability to enjoy the quiet moments in the woods,” Rissman said.