Brief History of SW Bike Path Prairie Restoration


Community members have pulled weeds and planting trees, shrubs, and flowers along the SW Bike Path almost since it was paved, about 10 years ago.  Much of this activity centered around the Odana Road intersection on the west end, and where the bike path crosses Glenway,  further east.

According to the DMNA web site: “The current DMNA Path Committee and its SW Path Community Restoration Project* have evolved from several organizations and efforts: the initial and multi-neighborhood Friends of the SW Bike Path (2001), the Replanters of the Path (2003), the Friends of Lake Wingra/Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood SW Path Habitat Restoration Project (2005), and the more recent focus of the DMNA Bike Path Committee on the section parallel to Gregory Street.”

*in partnership with the Friends of Lake Wingra, City Madison Engineering Division, the UW Arboretum, MG&E, and the Therese Foundation.

The current Glenway planting project was re-born in 2007 under the leadership of DMNA residents Robin Ryan and Sandy Stark.   Sandy is now chair of the DMNA path committee.  In that role, Sandy mobilized project partners City Engineering and MG & E to dig out weeds, bring in soil, fund the first plantings. The first planting was designed by local landscape designer Tibi Light.

In this, the fifth season, about 14 volunteers are active in the Glenway prairie planting, with 4-8 showing up for the typical work party.  Counting volunteers at the Odana Road prairie, Regent-DMNA-Prospect Ave. project, the total number of volunteers has increased each year.

A variety of groups take part in the bike path plantings.  The Prospect Ramp project counts on a handful of Boy Scouts each work party; there are teens from Edgewood, community service members, and neighborhood folks who help  Sue Reindollar with burning the Odana Road prairie planting.  The Westmorland Neighborhood Association Green Team has taken responsibility for the bike path ditch just west of Glenway and has a nice young prairie planting that it burned for the first time this spring.

General goals of the DMNA Path Committee are to:

Generate and support neighborhood interest in projects for controlling pest species and restoring native plants.

  • Increase community engagement in environmental stewardship
  • Encourage public/private partnerships.
  • Improve watershed habitat
  • Contribute to neighborhood enjoyment of the path.

All in all the SW Bike Path is a great example of neighborhood activism.

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About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist practicing and writing in the Midwestern United States.
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