Party in the Parks

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turns 100! Across the country, this celebration will kick off the next century of preserving America’s parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation and historic preservation. Plus—the National Park Service has issued a call to action for everyone to celebrate by discovering activities in their local parks. Luckily, locally we have more than 260 City of Madison Parks and more than 12,000 acres of land at Dane County Parks to enjoy. Here are six ways to celebrate the centennial, right in your own backyard!

Celebrate History

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Dane County Parks was first established in 1936, not long after the National Park Service. There are three historical sites within this park system: Halfway Prairie School (the oldest rural elementary school in Dane County), Lake View Hill Park (a 27-acre wooded conservancy park) and Schumacher Farm (an outdoor museum representing local farming life in the 1920s and 1930s). Each was specifically set aside for the preservation, restoration, or reconstruction of features significant to the history or cultural heritage of our area.


Celebrate Activity

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Just one glance at the Madison Parks Facilities guide and you’ll get why we’re known for four seasons of fun! Stay cool this summer at beaches, pools and splash parks. Extend the experience—even in winter—by trying skating, sledding or snowshoeing. You can even bring your pup along to play! Madison was ranked 4th in the nation for number of dog parks per resident and there are eight off-leash city parks for your furry friend to enjoy!


Celebrate Recreation

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Dane County features 27 parks with land set aside specifically for recreational use. Maximize your opportunities at parks like Capital Springs where you can enjoy activities including camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, cross-country skiing or kayaking. Or, try a park like Salmo Pond which focuses solely on fishing in its three-acre lake and fishing piers.


Celebrate Conservation

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Both parks systems play a role in conservation and protection of our local parks. But those activities go beyond basic upkeep of parks or wetlands. For example, the Madison Parks Forestry Division is responsible for hundreds of thousands of trees that are located in the City's parks, golf courses and cemetery—as well as the 96,000 trees along Madison's 700 miles of city streets!


Celebrate Stewardship

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Both parks systems offer opportunities for those who use the parks to get involved as volunteers to help extend the lives of our parks. Dane County Parks regularly updates its Volunteer Opportunities and nearly a dozen of its parks have Friends Groups dedicated to preserving those particular parks. And Madison Parks engages volunteers in activities ranging from its annual Earth Day Challenge to the chance to Adopt-A-Park!


Celebrate Year-Round

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The celebration doesn’t have to end! Bookmark Madison Parks events and Dane County Parks events and get set to enjoy our parks all year long! Or, search “Nature and Outdoors” on the events calendar for more.