Wisconsin Public Television Program Honors the Arboretum


The University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison is a leader in ecological restoration, research, and contains the oldest restored prairie in the United States.

Landscape Legacy, An In Wisconsin Special, airing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2 on Wisconsin Public Television (WPT), invites viewers to experience the arboretum’s beauty throughout the seasons and explore its commitment to the restoration and management of ecological communities. WPT will encore the program at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 30.

The program looks at the history of the arboretum, and how the vision of its first director Aldo Leopold is preserved by scientists and students who continue to learn in this unique urban green space that began more than 75 years ago.

Between 1935 and ’41 a restoration, the first in the United States, of an American prairie took place at the arboretum. The 60-acre stretch of land known worldwide as Curtis Prairie was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program formed by Franklin D. Roosevelt that focused on the development of natural resources. The CCC also built the arboretum’s iconic structures and trails, while establishing a natural area conducive to experimental research.

The program looks at how the arboretum is currently researching the use of native plantings to determine if they can reduce water runoff as well as the amount of pollutants in the water. What they learn could have an impact on how other areas in the state and world preserve and purify groundwater.

Viewers also will learn about the science of phenology. It’s an unofficial account of when the seasons change and tracks the firsts of every season — the first robin, the first snowfall, when things sprout, bud and blossom — in any given year. These valuable results contribute important information to the study of climate change.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.