Ask local experts to restore greenway — Ginny White

Thank you for the Nov. 14 front-page article “A preserve or a ditch?” about restoration of the Sauk Creek Greenway.

Madison’s efforts to restore a 26-acre urban greenspace has sparked outrage and suspicion among neighbors and questions over the value of trees in a changing climate.

It was a balanced discussion of a problem that’s been decades in the making. My concern is that the city’s approach is one dimensional. Not unexpectedly, city engineers are focused on solving what they define as a simple engineering problem: control of storm water runoff. They’ve said they plan to get input from other professionals (arborists, landscape architects and greenway vegetation coordinators), but they’ve largely ruled out environmental and aesthetic considerations.

A holistic approach is needed to address multiple problems and opportunities in the greenway. I urge the city to draw on the expertise of a wide range of professionals including hydrologists, wildlife ecologists, soil scientists, foresters and other environmental scientists. Collaboration across disciplines could yield a result that would satisfy everyone. Madison is home to a world-class university, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources headquarters and U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies such as the Forest Products Laboratory and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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These organizations are staffed with national and international experts who could share their expertise and help make the Sauk Creek Greenway a model project.

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