Wisconsin Historical Society: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Contact: Kara O’Keeffe
kara.okeeffe@wisconsinhistory.org
608-261-9596


Madison, Wis.
– The Wisconsin Historical Society has announced the listing of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison, Dane County, in the National Register of Historic Places. National Register designation provides access to certain benefits, including qualification for grants and for rehabilitation income tax credits, while it does not restrict private property owners in the use of their property.

The University of Wisconsin Arboretum is nationally significant and internationally recognized as the site of the first experiments in the ecological restoration of prairie ecological communities. The Arboretum also maintains the nation’s oldest collection of ecologically restored ecological communities including Curtis Prairie (begun 1936), Teal Pond (begun 1940), Gallistel Woods (begun 1941), Greene Prairie (begun 1943), and Wingra Woods (begun 1943).  Research and experimentation carried out at the Arboretum beginning in 1934 pioneered and refined techniques and procedures for restoring and managing many different ecological communities from Wisconsin forests, prairies, and wetlands.  These ecosystems are found not only in Wisconsin but in many areas across the country.  Methods developed at the Arboretum have been disseminated through technical and popular journals and through the academic and professional careers of the many graduates of the University of Wisconsin in conservation-related fields who have studied in the Arboretum.

The ecological communities themselves have served as models, inspiring other ecological restoration projects (especially prairies), and have provided seeds to other arboreta and botanical gardens worldwide through the seed exchange program (from 1952 into the 1990s).  Ecological restoration and ecologically restored ecological communities were slow to gain approval from conservationists, whose goals were erosion control and sustainable productivity of natural resources, and from preservationists, who sought to preserve pristine natural areas. However, the modern environmental movement of the late 1960s, with its dual aims of preserving natural areas and healing degraded land, brought ecological restoration into the mainstream in the 1970s.

It is now regarded as best practice in land management for both restored and natural landscapes. Governmental agencies employ ecological restoration to improve and maintain parks, recreational and natural areas. Ecological restoration is utilized for mitigation projects mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and similar federal and state legislation. Increasingly, landscape architects use ecological restoration to re-create native plant communities on small sites, from corporate properties to school grounds, to back yards.  The ecologically restored ecological communities at the Arboretum and the research their development has generated have provided a model and a proving ground for ecological restoration, making the Arboretum the catalyst for transforming ecological restoration into best practice in land management nationwide.

The register is the official national list of historic properties in America deemed worthy of preservation and is maintained by the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Wisconsin Historical Society administers the program within Wisconsin. It includes sites, buildings, structures, objects and districts that are significant in national, state or local history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.

About Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both a state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people every year through a wide range of sites, programs and services. For more information, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.

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