Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Planning & Development

The Dane County Rural Cultural Resource Planning Guide

Riley Tavern

Dane County has a rich history of human settlement lasting millennia. Indigenous Peoples are known to have lived in the area that is Dane County for at least 12,000 years.

The first Europeans came to Wisconsin 400 years ago; and 200 years ago, the first permanent European settlement was established in Dane County.

In that time, an immense history has been left behind, and persists to this day. These assets take the form of archeological sites, burial sites and cemeteries, historic structures, architecturally significant buildings, and community gathering places.

Additionally, traditions in the arts, dance, music, and oral history all give our towns and communities a unique character that is worthy of preservation. 

Dane County has the fastest growing population in the state, and our historic and cultural resources are at risk. 

  • Local Church Only 30% of the buildings in Wisconsin documented during the Great Depression by the federal Historic American Building Survey (HABS) program have survived.
  • Only 20% of known Native American mounds have survived development and agricultural practices.


Wisconsin State Law requires that communities plan for the preservation and protection of culture and history. Dane County is currently updating its guidance in the comprehensive plan for towns within Dane County. Preservation of these physical and cultural elements can benefit towns through increased economic resiliency, stronger community identity, and increased civic pride.
The Cultural Resource Planning Guide will allow towns, especially those in rural Dane County to prioritize historic and cultural identity in future growth and development plans. 

Project Updates:

September 2024
The Zoning & Land Regulation Committee - Cultural Resource Planning Subcommittee held its final meeting and adopted proposed amendments to the County Comprehensive Plan. 
View the final draft plan language by clicking here, or copying the link below into your web browser:
October 2024
The ordinance amendment will be heard by the Zoning and Land Regulation Committee on November 28, 2023. Visit the ZLR page in Legistar for meeting information. 
You can view the ordinance amendment by clicking here, or by copying the link below into your web browser:

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