Dane County Parks (DCP) is responsible for the policies, management plans, and
work plans for the operation, maintenance, and restoration of Prairie Moraine Park.
Volunteers assist DCP with this work. Any questions about these policies, plans, or
restoration activities should be directed to DCP at 608-224-3730.
A temporary fence surrounds an 11-acre area of the park to allow for restoration work using heavy equipment, power tools, etc. without park closures.
December 16, 2021 at 10:39 AM on Facebook
Our restoration work is in full swing at the Prairie Moraine Dog Park! In several areas of the park, invasive species have taken over and diminished the use of the area where dogs can run, blocked views of significant geologic features and crowded out native vegetation. Volunteers have worked for many years to remove invasives and restore the three primary natural resource communities which historically existed in the park: prairies, oak savannas/openings, and oak woodlands. The restored landscape will provide more space for dogs to run, improve ecosystem benefits such as water infiltration and pollinator habitat, and offer a biologically diverse landscape.
In October, we added a temporary fence in the southwest corner of the park where active restoration is occurring. Fencing off the restoration area means volunteers can work on removing invasive species and planting oak trees and woodland vegetation without having to close the park for work days. That means less disruption for park users. The fence will remain in place through the fall of 2022 so volunteers can continue to remove invasives, treat any resprouts and plant native vegetation in accordance with the vegetation management plan.
We are excited to report some of the project accomplishments, including:
To learn more about this project, visit:
Dane County Parks (DCP) staff is responsible for deciding what work will be done at the park. They use a “Vegetation Plan” to make decisions for the restoration work being done at the park.
It is posted on our "Resources" web page, in the "Additional Resources" section on the bottom of this page, or just use the "Download" button below. This plan describes the desired tree, shrub, and plant communities for the park.
DCP staff decides how the work will be completed. Based on those instructions, volunteers develop and follow an annual work plan that has been approved by DCP staff. These volunteers are trained by DCP on how to identify invasive species and how to reduce or eliminate them in the park.
There are three types of volunteers in Dane County Parks:
Prairie Moraine Friends (PMF) was created to support Dane County Parks with the development, restoration, conservation, and operation of Prairie Moraine Park. Most, but not all, PMF volunteers are park users and dog owners. One of PMF’s primary goals is to create a healthy, safe, and stimulating off-leash dog exercise area in Dane County.
Prairie Moraine Park consists of 160 acres and is divided into two areas; an on-leash area that is part of the Nation’s Ice Age Trail System, and an off-leash dog exercise area. Each area is about 80 acres. The on-leash area has undergone extensive restoration in the last 20 years. Most of the invasive species are located in the off-leash area.
There are three primary methods used to remove invasive species from the park. The first method is the use of controlled or prescribed burning. This is the best and most lasting of the methods. It requires a high level of training and is most often done in spring before the vegetation starts to grow. A second method used at the park involves mechanically removing invasive species with mowers, brush cutter, or saws. Sometimes a third method, herbicide treatment, is necessary in order to control an invasive species.
There is no simple answer to this question. There will be years of volunteer effort needed to eradicate or reduce the invasive species in the park and more years for the desired trees, shrubs, and plants to take hold and develop into mature communities. While each step in the restoration project in the park provides immediate rewards, the truth is this restoration is being done for future generations of park users.
In a word, the park will be beautiful when it is finished. Dane County Park users are fortunate to have this land available every day to hike on and exercise their dogs. The park is literally on the dividing line between the glacial and driftless regions of Dane County. When the restoration is complete, the park will have three major vegetation communities … oak woodlands, oak openings/savannas, and prairies.
To learn more about these communities, visit:
There are many ways for you to help:
of Dane County Land and Water Resources, Parks Division
Restore and sustain the natural communities of Dane County Park lands to the highest standard while helping to foster within people a deeper connection to our natural resources and an understanding for the principles and practices of land stewardship.
Land Stewardship Education
A Dane County Parks Project Page
(December 2020 - Ongoing)
Learn more about the restoration work being done in the park
A Dane County Parks, Land and Water Resource Department, Master Plan document (December 2019)