Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Land Purchases & Conservation Easements

Dane County can work with landowners who want to see their properties permanently protected either through an outright land purchase, a purchase of a conservation easement, or a land donation. A conservation easement allows the landowner to continue owning the land subject to certain conservation rules and restrictions.  This can include streambank easements that provide access to public fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation.

Land Purchase Process

Before the county purchases a property, there are certain criteria that need to be met.  The Dane County Parks & Open Space Plan is the guiding document that provides a framework for land acquisitions. The plan lays out natural area and park boundaries and identifies specific target areas and goals that are taken into consideration when purchasing property. Some examples would be improving access to county owned land, connecting publicly owned lands, water quality protection and enhancement and conservation of wetlands and grasslands. 

The landowner will need to provide an address and/or the parcel identification number of their land and to answer a few basic questions about their property. This information will be shared with first with staff and then with the Park Commission in a closed session, to see if the property meets the criteria for purchase and if we can proceed with an appraisal.  

The county determines the market value of a property by hiring an independent third party appraiser, except in cases of a streambank conservation easement, which is determined by a formula. The appraisal is contracted by the county and done at the county’s expense with the understanding that there is no obligation to sell. If the appraisal is acceptable to the landowner and an offer is accepted, a resolution will be introduced to the County Board for approval. Once approved, the county can purchase the property or easement to ensure protection of the property, long term management and opportunities for public enjoyment in perpetuity.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about selling your property, conservation easements or land donation contact:

Sharene Smith, Land & Water Real Estate Coordinator
5201 Fen Oak Dr., #208, Madison, WI  53718
(608) 224-3761(office) / (608) 576-4485 (cell)