The University of Wisconsin–Madison announced Tuesday that the Arboretum was officially recognized by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark.
The land, established as an outdoor laboratory to investigate the repair of damaged ecosystems in the 1930s, was added to the list last month.
The designation was based on the Arboretum’s work in ecological restoration, as well as its dedication to conservation — and pledge to uphold Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, which calls for “moral responsibility” to the natural world. Today, the Arboretum manages some of the oldest restored land in the country.
“The Arboretum is truly deserving of this honor for its significant role in decades of research into relationships between people and the land through science, stewardship and education,” UW Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in the statement. “While historic, the Arboretum is not frozen in time. It is widely regarded as a renowned living laboratory for studies into sustainable ecological restoration.”
Being designated a National Historic Landmark requires a lengthy process of nomination, evaluation and review, leading up to a final decision by the US Secretary of Interior. This designation makes the Arboretum the 44th property in Wisconsin to achieve National Historic Landmark status.
While it was initially established as a laboratory, the Arboretum attracts UW-Madison students for recreation and research alike. With over 17 miles of trails, three different collections of gardens, and lake-front views on over 1,200 acres of land, the Arboretum is a popular outdoor area for both students and Madison-area residents.
“It shows just how cool of a place the Arboretum is and how much it’s valued by residents,” UW sophomore Ben Ross said. “I have many fond memories of going to the Arboretum with my family over the years, it’s always a great place to have a picnic or walk around with friends.”
National Historic Landmark status will highlight the Arboretum as a place worthy of preservation in Wisconsin, giving it special status to be preserved for generations to come.