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Cherokee Marsh

Aug / Sept 2019

In this edition

Aquatic Invasive Species Snapshot Day

Learn about and look for invasives species in the waters of Cherokee Marsh.

Sat, August 17, 8:30 am – 1 pm
Cherokee Marsh - North Unit, 6098 N Sherman Ave

Volunteers needed! Snacks provided! 
Sign up by Aug 2

Improvements and changes implemented at Yahara Heights

Yahara Heights Park has a new sign, parking area, and kiosk at the Catfish Ct entrance, just north of the dog exercise area. Similar improvements have been installed on River Rd to the northeast. These access points are trailheads for the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area.

With the improvements, the county anticipates increased public use of the area. With that in mind, county staff met with neighbors and volunteers in June with a goal of coordinating land management and volunteer activities. 
Staff will begin developing a vegetation plan that details desired vegetation types for the various parts of the property. Volunteers are welcome to be a part of the planning and implementation. 
In the prairie and woods, fire will be the main method to prevent brush from returning. Brush mowing will focus only on problem areas, typically to control brush in the years immediately after an area has been cleared. 

The county has implemented changes in trail mowing in the park. For many years, volunteers mowed the trails and also cut new trails to make it easier for volunteers to reach work sites. To reduce confusion and to benefit wildlife, county staff have worked with the neighbors and volunteers to design a trail system that provides full access to the park but removes unneeded trails. “No hiking” signs are posted at the closed trails.
County staff is now mowing the trails with volunteer help only in spring and fall when seasonal staff isn’t available. Trail widths will be a maximum of 12 ft.
A firebreak was mowed behind the properties on the south side of Caton Ln. The firebreak will allow for prescribed fire in the nearby prairie and woods and provide access for volunteers to travel to work sites. The firebreak will not be a designated hiking trail. Residents adjacent to the park may mow a short narrow path from their yard to the fire break to access the park.
Volunteers who drive on the trails to reach work sites will display a magnetic sign or placard provided by the county.

In the park just off Caton Ln, the Town of Westport has made improvements to the drainage at the small stormwater pond.
The Friends are working with county staff to provide content for the kiosks, which will include updated trail maps.

Yahara Heights Park (Dane County Parks website)

New pier installed at School Road boat landing

Madison Parks has installed a new floating pier at the School Road boat landing. Unlike the previous, fixed pier, which flooded in times of high water, the new pier rises and falls with the water level. City crews will remove the pier each year at the end of the season and set it back out after the ice melts.
Public canoe and kayak storage racks have also been installed at the landing. The rental cost is $110 per year for Madison residents. (If you want to bring your stored paddle craft with you on a winter vacation, be aware that the road to the boat landing is gated and unplowed in the off season.) For more information , see or call (608) 266-4711. 

Improved waste oil drop-off site ready for use

Those who change their own motor oil have a new, improved drop-off site for used oil. Located in the parking area at the corner of Wheeler Road and School Road, the site has dual 500-gallon tanks so the site can remain open if one tank becomes contaminated.

Every two weeks, the tank in use is locked out, tested, and emptied, and the other tank is unlocked for use. The testing looks for the presence of PCBs, industrial products that have been shown to be hazardous to human health. Although PCBs were banned from motor oil and other products in 1979, the tests still occasionally reveal contamination.

The site shares an entrance area with Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park’s South Unit. The new location, just east of the parking area, allows a more unified entrance to the park’s trails and boat landing. Plantings will screen the enclosure, and motion-activated solar lighting will illuminate the site at night.

The City of Madison provides drop-off sites because used motor oil is a hazardous substance. Don’t place motor oil in the trash, recycle bins, household drains, or the sewer system.

The site is for motor oil only. Don’t use the tanks to dispose of gasoline, antifreeze, cleaning solvents, or other liquids. To recycle cooking oil, use the collection tanks at 4602 Sycamore Avenue or 1501 West Badger Road.

Twelve butterfly species seen at Yahara Heights

A highlight of July's butterfly walk at Yahara Heights with the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association was spotting five Little Yellow butterflies (shown in photo above). They lay their eggs on partridge pea, an annual prairie plant that is abundant at Yahara Heights. The walk leaders even handed out seed packets to the participants!

Other butterflies seen on the walk through the prairie included 23(!) Monarchs, Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphur, Eastern-tailed Blue, Pearl Crescent, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Common Buckeye, Viceroy, and Silver-spotted Skipper,

Upcoming events

See full calendar

Bird and nature outings

Sun, Aug 4, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, appreciating insects with naturalist guide Mary Binkley​
Sun, Sept 1, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, autumn traces of nature with Tom Murn
first Sunday of EVERY month, year-round, ALWAYS 1:30 pm – 3 pm

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

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)

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

Tour North Cherokee with Parks staff

Wed, Aug 14, 6 pm – 7:30 pm

Learn about management of the natural areas and get your questions answered. Led by conservation crew member Jay Walters.
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)

More information

Meet the Friends at the Northside Farmers Market

Sunday, Sept 15, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Stop by at our table at the market to say hi and learn what's new.
Northside Town Center, 1865 Northport Dr, near Willy Street Co-op North

More information

Prairie seed collecting

Wed, Sept 18, 9 am  – 12 noon

Help collect seeds for use in restored prairies in Dane County parks.

Yahara Heights Park, Caton Lane entrance. From central Madison, heading north on HWY 113 / Northport Dr., 0.3 miles past HWY M, turn right onto River Rd. Just past the curve, turn right on Riverview Dr, then right on Caton Ln. Enter the park from the end of Caton Ln. The address for navigating is 5198 Caton Ln, Waunakee, WI 53597. map

Bring your own drinking water and dress for the weather and walking in the prairie.

Sign up


Board meetings

Wed,  Aug 21, 5:30 pm – 7 pm
Wed, Sept 18, 5:30 pm – 7 pm

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

Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 Northport Dr (map)

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