In accordance with the Lakeshore Nature Preserve’s mission statement (stated below), and in order to maintain the health and vitality of the trees and vegetation in the preserve while minimizing personal safety risks for all users, the preserve prohibits the use and attachment of weight-bearing ropes, slings, belts, bands, and assorted other attachments to trees and/or posts within the preserve for recreation or leisure purposes. This specifically includes slacklines, hammocks, and rope swings.
“The University of Wisconsin-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve permanently protects the undeveloped lands along the shore of Lake Mendota where members of the campus community have long experienced the intellectual and aesthetic benefits of interacting with the natural world. The Preserve shelters biologically significant plant and animal communities for teaching, research, outreach, and environmentally sensitive use; and safeguards beloved cultural landscape features. The Preserve is as essential to the university as its lecture halls, laboratories, and playing fields. It contributes to a powerful sense of place and fosters an ethic of stewardship to promote mutually beneficial relationships between humans and the rest of nature.” — Lakeshore Nature Preserve Mission Statement, June 7, 2005
- The UW–Madison Grounds department does not permit attachments of any sort to any campus trees.
- Trees within the Lakeshore Nature Preserve are not evaluated with regards to safety, stability, and strength for use with active recreational activities. Some trees, especially those off-trail, may be weak or in decline and are left to fall in place to provide natural bio-habitat in the preserve.
- Driving temporary or permanent posts into the ground may damage buried archeological sites prevalent throughout the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Damaging archeological sites is against the law.
- Users are required to stay on defined trails within the preserve. Most trees in the preserve are located off-trail and therefore are prohibited from visitor access.
- Mechanical attachments to trees, especially oaks and elms, can result in wounds and injuries increasing the susceptibility of these trees to vascular diseases and insect infestations.
- Hammock use typically involves tying off a hammock to two or more trees and users typically do not provide any type of protection for the trees or their bark. Doing so creates the potential for damage to the tree bark and again increases their susceptibility to disease and insect infestations.
- Slacklining is an inherently risky sport resulting in slips, falls, and potential for bodily injury to those participating in the activity.
- Even though most slackline users make attempts to protect trees in the process of setting up their equipment, this sport is not an environmentally sensitive use of the trees and vegetation within the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.
Currently, slacklining is permitted in a variety of City of Madison public parks but not in conservation areas. The entire Lakeshore Nature Preserve is zoned “conservancy” by the City of Madison. UW–Madison faculty, staff, and students interested in slacklining are encouraged to use City of Madison Parks for these types of activities. In the city’s policy statement, “Slacklining participants and spectators assume any and all risks associated with this activity including, but not limited to death, paralysis and serious injury.”