Friends of Cherokee Marsh Newsletter April / May 2018
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Cherokee Marsh

April / May 2018

In this edition

Cherokee Marsh is over 3500 acres

One of our most frequently asked questions is, "how big is Cherokee Marsh?" We decided to ask a professional, Friends member and cartographer Doug Norgord. He volunteered to create two maps for us.

A map of the upper Yahara River and Cherokee Marsh watersheds (above) shows all of the wetland areas that drain into the upper Yahara River extending from the northeast tip of Lake Mendota to just north of Deforest, including Token Creek. The wetlands include a large, mostly contiguous wetland complex that ranges from Lake Mendota to just above HWY 19. The map also shows some much smaller, isolated wetland patches, which lie mostly along the Yahara River, Token Creek, and their tributaries to the north.

A second, more detailed map focuses on the large, main wetland complex and includes the codes used by the Wisconsin Digital Wetland Inventory to describe different wetland types.

In the main wetland complex, Doug calculated a total of 3595 wetland acres, including 2335 acres at Cherokee Marsh and the upper Yahara, 915 acres along Token Creek, and 345 acres on the northeast tip of Lake Mendota. These acres do not include the river itself.

Big thanks to Doug for volunteering to make these great maps. At future events, we'll have a large-scale, mounted map to view.

View the maps

Doug Norgord's website is

Prescribed burn season has begun

Madison Parks performed the first prescribed burns of the season at Cherokee Marsh on March 23, 26, and 30. Weather permitting, the crew will perform additional burns in the North and South Units this spring.  

Statement from Madison Parks:

This spring the City of Madison Parks and Engineering Divisions will be conducting prescribed burns to promote establishment of native vegetation. Prescribed burns are the intentional use of fire, under specific environmental conditions, to manage and suppress invasive vegetation. Many of Wisconsin’s native species have adapted to survive or to benefit from fire events, while at the same time the presence of invasive or undesirable species is reduced. Prescribed burns are an important management tool for natural areas, especially for several of Wisconsin’s native plant communities. 

Prescribed burns occur after comprehensive planning and under specific weather conditions which are conducive to a safe and manageable operation. Burns will occur in the spring and/or fall of 2018, depending on conditions, analysis of existing vegetation, and management goals and are permitted by the Fire Department.

List of 2018 prescribed burn sites in Madison

Support Cherokee Marsh at Ale Asylum + Birds & Beers

Join us at Ale Asylum for a Karmic Maintenance Monday benefit.

For every pint sold, Ale Asylum will donate $1 to the Friends of Cherokee Marsh.

Come for a drink and stay for supper. Besides their award-winning brews, Ale Asylum serves sandwiches, salads, and more. One day only!

Monday, April 16, 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Ale Asylum, 2002 Pankratz St

Ale Asylum is located near the airport, just off International Ln at Packers Ave.

PLUS - Birds and Beers

From 6 - 9 pm on the same night, join us and other birders at Ale Asylum for Birds and Beers - an informal gathering to share stories, trade tips, organize birding trips, and connect with other birders. Birders of all abilities are welcome.

Ale Asylum website

Thanks to Ale Asylum for this opportunity, to our social media coordinator Aaron Brown for setting it up, and to Timothy Baker and Kyle Lindemer for organizing Birds and Beers.

Bird & Nature Festival with Bats LIVE! + free movie

We want to share with you two great events to celebrate spring, both happening at Warner Park.

Bird and Nature Festival with Bats LIVE

At the 6th Annual Bird & Nature Festival at Warner Park, kids will love getting up close with live bats in free presentations by Jennifer Redell, Wisconsin DNR Bat Biologist. There will be multiple Bats LIVE! presentations throughout the afternoon.

Sunday, April 15, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Warner Park, 2930 N Sherman Ave.
All activities will take place at the "rainbow shelter."

Bring the whole family to celebrate Earth Day, Arbor Day and Bird Day with an afternoon of educational exhibits, hands-on kids activities and nature exploration.

We'll be there with skulls, bones, and other fun nature items to examine and explore. Also check out:
    Bat science activities
    Be a bat biologist
    What's in the pond?
    Live reptiles
    Beginning birding
    Tree walks
    Prairie planting
    Make nature art  
    Nature group tables
    Discover Wild Warner by bike (BYOB - bring your own bike and helmet)
    Food carts
    Folk music with Urban Hurdles and Wingin It bird band
    Face painting
    Bounce house and More!

Festival webpage

The festival is co-sponsored by the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, Madison Parks, Madison Audubon Society, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wild Warner, and other local Friends and environmental groups.

If you have questions, contact Paul Noeldner (608) 698-0104.



Hometown Habitat - free movie

Saturday, April 14, 12 noon – 2:00 pm

Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 Northport Dr.

Enjoy a free showing of Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home and learn how and why to use native flowers, trees, and other plants for their beauty, to help pollinators such as monarch butterflies, and to help provide clean water in our lakes. Be inspired by success stories such as the Be A Habitat Hero Program, which teaches how to "wildscape" yards for the joy of seeing birds every day and connecting kids with nature, and Eco-artists, who are using art to help solve environmental problems. Alex Singer of Wild Ones and restoration specialist Tom Murn will host a short panel discussion after the movie. 

This movie is companion to the book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Both the book and a DVD of Hometown Habitat are available from the Lakeview branch of Madison Public Library.

Tour Cherokee Marsh on a Natural Resources Foundation tour

Each year, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin sponsors field trips to special areas around the state. The 2018 offerings include four trips in and around Cherokee Marsh, including three fundraisers for the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund. Friends members received advance notice from us that registration would open on March 28. Many trips fill quickly; three of the trips below are already waitlist only.

99 Kayaking Cherokee Marsh - WAITLIST ONLY

Kayak through Cherokee Marsh, the largest wetland in Dane County. Paddle toward Token Creek to discover a variety of wetland habitats that support many rare plants and animals. Some paddling experience necessary. Kayak and gear included. This trip is a fundraiser for the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund.

Sat, June 23, 9  am- 1 pm
Leaders Nancy Saulsbury and Jan Axelson
Limit: 12
Cost: $40 per person

104 Redheaded Woodpeckers in Cherokee Marsh - WAITLIST ONLY

Hike through scenic oak savanna in search of nesting redheaded woodpeckers. Learn about restoration efforts that led them to nest in Cherokee Marsh for the first time in decades. This trip is a fundraiser for the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund.

Wed, June 27, 8 am - 11 am
Leaders Russ Hefty and Timothy Baker
Limit: 20
Cost: $25 per person

144 Westport Drumlin Prairie Partnership - WAITLIST ONLY

Visit a showpiece of Wisconsin's glacial and prairie heritage where 100 native plant species thrive. Majestic bur oaks dot the landscape and wild indigo, blazing star, compass plant and coneflower bloom. Discover prairie management and partnerships to restore and protect this stunning site in Empire Prairie SNA.

Tues, July 31, 9 - 11:30 am
Leader Tony Abate
Limit: 20
Cost: $15 per person

145 Twilight Paddle on the Upper Yahara River

Twilight is a magical time to paddle among the large, fragrant blooms of American lotus. Discover local natural history and learn how the lotus was introduced to improve aquatic habitat in the upper Yahara River in Cherokee Marsh. You must bring your own canoe/kayak. This trip is a fundraiser for the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund.

Wed, Aug 1, 5:30 - 8:30 pm
Leaders Russ Hefty and Jim Krause
Limit: 20
Cost: $25 per person

How to register

You must be an NRF member ($25/year) to register for field trips. If you join before April 5, you will receive a guidebook with a registration passcode for signing up for field trips. After April 5, you can join at the same time as you register.

More information and the full list of field trips

Photographers needed!

The Friends and Madison Parks are always in need of good photographs of Cherokee Marsh, especially ones that show families and kids enjoying the outdoors in and around the marsh.

If you would like to see your photos in this newsletter and in other publicity for the Friends and Madison Parks, we would love to hear from you. A good place to capture photos is at our monthly Bird and Nature Outings and other events. Photos with recognizable children require verbal permission from a parent or guardian for our use.

Contact Jan at or 608 215 0426.

Upcoming events

See full calendar

Bird and nature outings

Sun, April 1, 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm. Stirrings of Spring with Tom Murn. Spring is in the air, birds are singing, and plants and seeds are rousing from winter sleep. Master Naturalist Tom Murn will share his excitement about the birds and nature stirring around us and a wealth of experience and knowledge about restoring natural areas like Cherokee Marsh. 

Sun, May 6, 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm,
Full Speed Ahead! with Tom Murn. Nature lovers, families and kids will enjoy an entertaining and educational nature outing with Master Naturalist Tom Murn on trails winding through the new bursts of green in the marshes, prairies and woodlands ringing with the calls of sandhill cranes and other birds celebrating the return of spring. 

first Sunday of EVERY month, year-round, ALWAYS 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, North Unit, 6098 N. Sherman Ave. Follow N. Sherman Ave. north to the parking lot at the end of the gravel road.  (map)

Family-friendly bird and nature walks led by naturalist guides and other local experts.

Sponsored by Madison Parks and the Friends of Cherokee Marsh. Questions? Contact Paul Noeldner at (608)-698-0104 or

Madison Parks Bird and Nature Outings page

Evening at Cherokee Marsh - woodcock walk

Friday, April 13, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, North Unit, 6098 N. Sherman Ave. Follow N. Sherman Ave. north to the parking lot at the end of the gravel road.  (map)

Join us for an evening at Cherokee Marsh! We are likely to see cranes, observe the courtship flight of woodcock and snipe, and see several spring migrants. This trip is sponsored by Madison Audubon and Friends of Cherokee Marsh, led by Levi Wood and Peter Fissel.

Madison Audubon field trip information

Hometown Habitat - free movie

Sat, April 14, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 Northport Dr.

See story above for details.

Bird and Nature Festival with Bats LIVE!

Sunday, April 15, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Warner Park, 2930 N Sherman Ave.
All activities will take place at the "rainbow shelter."

See story above for details.

Ale Asylum benefit for Cherokee Marsh + Birds and Beers

Monday, April 16, 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Ale Asylum, 2002 Pankratz St

See story above for details.

Earth Day Challenge - garlic mustard pull

Saturday, April 21, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, North Unit, 6098 N. Sherman Ave.

Make room for native wildflowers by helping pull garlic mustard in the woods. No experience needed.

This event is FULL, but we will have additional garlic mustard workdays this spring. Sign up to receive volunteer notices.

Sign up for Earth Day challenge events in other locations

Learn about garlic mustard

Warbler walks

Wed, May 2, 6 am – 8 am
Wed, May 16, 6 am – 8 am

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, North Unit, 6098 N. Sherman Ave. Follow N. Sherman Ave. north to the parking lot at the end of the gravel road.  (map)

Join us for an early morning walk to look for colorful warblers and other spring migrants. Sponsored by the Friends of Cherokee Marsh and Madison Audubon Society. Led by Timothy Baker and Kyle Lindemer.

Madison Audubon field trip information

Board meetings

Wed, Apr 18, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Wed, May 16, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 Northport Dr

Members and the public are welcome at our monthly board meetings. Occasionally we reschedule, so contact us to confirm: (608) 215-0426,

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