The University of Wisconsin’s Arboretum is widely recognized as a center for ecological research and restoration.
Established during the Great Depression, the Arboretum is an extension of the University of Wisconsin and is used by students and faculty for research and class work. Madison was growing at a rapid rate at that time, and citizens recognized the need to preserve green space. As a result, local civic leaders donated most of the Arboretum’s land during the 1920s. Crews from the Civilian Conservation Corps did the manual labor to create the Arboretum between 1935 and 1941. Today, thanks to decades of dedication, our Arboretum boasts the world’s oldest and most extensive collection of restored ecosystems, including savannas, prairies, deciduous forests, conifer forests, wetlands, and native gardens spanning 1,260 acres bordering Lake Wingra.
The Arboretum’s mission is to “conserve and restore Arboretum lands, advance restoration ecology, and foster the land ethic.” Though its primary function is ecological research, the Arboretum’s scenic trails attract many other visitors year-round. The Arboretum also sponsors a variety of guided public walks, classes, family programs and volunteer opportunities.