The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Master Plan FAQ

Frequent Asked Questions


Why did The Ridges Sanctuary purchase Ridges Inn & Suites?

Acquiring Ridges Inn & Suites is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire invaluable property that protects the Sanctuary and allows us to significantly expand our mission of education, research, and land preservation. Central that are protecting Hidden Brook, which bisects the property and is critical habitat for the endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, and the opportunity to repurpose the buildings to accommodate the growth of our organization.


What is going to happen at the site? How is The Ridges going to utilize it?

There are many exciting possibilities for this property, all of which would reinforce the mission of The Ridges Sanctuary. To sustainably incorporate this new property into our operations, we have decided to allow future uses to be guided by a master planning process. The master plan will be informed by an exhaustive public input process to assure we’re responding to our members and users desires. The master plan will contain a programming plan, business & operations plan, and management and operations plan – all of which will support the proposed uses of the new property.


What is a master plan?

A master plan is a comprehensive blueprint that guides the sustainable growth of The Ridges Sanctuary. It creates a cohesive vision that is informed by extensive public input from stakeholders and provides a roadmap for the next 20 years. The master plan will address many facets of the organization, some of the deliverables include:

  • Business Plan
  • Programming Plan
  • Climate Resiliency Plan
  • Operations and Governance
  • Land Management Plan
  • Operations, Governance, and Strategic Plan


Who will develop the master plan?

The Ridges Sanctuary has hired SmithGroup, a Madison-based design firm, to lead the development of a master plan.


How was Smithgroup selected?

  • The Ridges Sanctuary Board of Directors established a master plan selection committee to drive the selection process. The decision to hire SmithGroup was ultimately informed by feedback received from board, staff, and stakeholder following a process that included request for qualifications, request for proposals, and interviews.
  • SmithGroup was selected for various reasons:
    • Their understanding of our project and needs was very clear
    • The scope of work submitted in the RFQ and RFP process aligned with the ongoing needs of The Ridges Sanctuary.
    • Multiple people from the design team have a strong association and love for The Ridges. They come into the project with an understanding of the rich cultural history and natural history of our area.


Why does The Ridges Sanctuary need a master plan?

In 85 years, The Ridges has established many plans for growth but has never developed a comprehensive master plan. This master plan will set a vision for the next 20-years. Demand for Ridges programming is higher than ever and our potential to engage in meaningful research and citizen science comes at a critical time. The master plan will provide a blueprint for the future and assure the organization continues to deliver on its mission. One of the key outcomes of the master plan will be a plan for incorporating Ridges Inn & Suites into the operations to expand upon our current potential.


How does the master planning process work?

The master planning process is broken down into a series of tasks. It begins with extensive research of existing plans and documents as well as the history of the organization. There will be a series of public engagement opportunities throughout the process – sometime through online surveys, other times with stakeholder interviews, and at least two public open houses. SmithGroup will use this feedback to help develop a long-term vision for the organization that meets the public desires while protecting the vulnerable natural and cultural resources that make up The Ridges.


How can I participate?

There will be several ways to participate in the master planning process. Feedback is vital to this process and we want to hear from you. Whether you participate by submitting a survey, participate in public engagement events or reach out to us with some thoughts directly, your thoughts are important to us. We will actively communicate about upcoming opportunities to get involved but some of the plans in place already are following:

  • Online surveys posted at The Ridges website. Each online survey is open for a few weeks and focuses on various topics that will be addressed in the master plan. Check back regularly or signup for our email distribution list to be notified when new surveys are posted
  • Visit the Nature Center (8166 Hwy 57) to view project updates and provide feedback to the master planning team. Clipboard with feedback forms are available at the front desk.
  • The Ridges Summit will be held on August 6th at The Ridges Sanctuary. On Saturday there will be public site tours and an open house. This will be a great opportunity to chat with Ridges staff and board as well as the master plan design team.
  • The Ridges Retreat will held on December 15th. It will be an opportunity to review concept plans and provide input before the master plan is finalized.