Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials announced this week the expansion of a habitat area in Westport, where approximately 40 acres will be added onto existing state-owned land for future fish and wildlife protection.
The site was donated to the department by Bill Towell and his family, after whom the expanded habitat area has been named.
The Towell Family State Habitat Area and preservation of the now 75-acre state-owned property should also assist in efforts to reduce runoff into Lake Mendota and other Madison-area bodies of water, according to Clean Lakes Alliance founder and executive director James Tye.
“This is a very special piece of land because it’s land and water intermixed into a wetland,” Tye said during a Jan. 4 dedication ceremony recognizing Towell and his family for their conveyance of the 40-acre parcel to the DNR. “We need to protect as much of that as we have in Dane County in order to filter water before it gets to the lakes.”
DNR officials said the expanded habitat area will be open for recreation such as hunting and fishing as well.
Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Bill Quackenbush attended Tuesday’s land dedication, expressing gratitude to state and local officials for working to preserve the land that was originally inhabited by the tribe. Quackenbush noted that the area is valuable because of its natural resources, which is why tribal members occupied it for so long.