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Cherokee Marsh

Feb / Mar 2019

In this edition

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Dane County to Acquire Additional Property Along Token Creek

On January 17, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the proposed acquisition of approximately 25 acres of property along Token Creek to complement Dane County’s Legacy Sediment Removal Project (“Suck the Muck”) and increase water access for outdoor recreation.

Token Creek is the only cold water trout fishery in northeastern Dane County. This acquisition will allow the County to further its efforts to improve water quality, enhance stream habitat, and expand recreational opportunities for the public.

The property lies between HWY 19 and Token Creek County Park, upstream of the designated Suck the Muck project area for Token Creek. Token Creek, which flows into the upper Yahara RIver at Cherokee Marsh, provides nearly half of the base flow of water for Lake Mendota. The protection of this property, including the creek and its surrounding land, helps ensure the long-term success of Suck the Muck by reducing the likelihood of future sediment erosion and nutrient loading that can negatively impact water quality.
The new parcel features wetlands, two ponds, and approximately 1,650 feet of meandering 2-bank frontage on Token Creek. Roughly 6 acres are made up of agricultural land, 5 acres are woods, and nearly 2.5 acres include upland with improvements. This new segment adjoins 54 acres of land purchased by Dane County in 2017.
In addition to offering opportunities for water resource and habitat management, the new land will enhance the Token Creek County Park and Natural Resource Area Master Plan. The parcel's price is $500,000.
A resolution to acquire the property was introduced to the County Board  and was passed unanimously by the Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources (EANR)  committee. The purchase will continue to be reviewed in the upcoming weeks before final approval by the County Board. The Friends of Cherokee Marsh enthusiastically support this acquisition.
Photo by Dana Erlandsen

Wildlife rehab featured at annual member meeting

Laura Lane

Can you guess the top five animals most frequently treated by wildlife rehabilitators at Dane County Humane Society’s Wildlife Center in 2018? Rabbits topped the list as number one, followed by snapping turtles, gray squirrels, mallard ducks, and American robins.

What are the most common reasons wild animals are injured? The top three reasons include being hit by a car, striking a window, or being bitten by a cat or dog.

How do you know if a wild animal needs help? Some common signs include being bitten; bleeding; showing visible injury such as a droopy wing or broken leg; being hit by a car, bicycle, or lawnmower; displaying neurological signs; or being trapped in an area for more than three days.
These are just a few of the interesting things we learned about wildlife rehabilitation at our annual meeting. Thanks to Jackie Sandberg, Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Coordinator, for her wonderful presentation about the important work being done by staff and volunteers at the Wildlife Center.  
Before the presentation, recently retired Director Dana Erlandsen reviewed 2018 and emphasized the valuable work we are doing in the areas of advocacy, fundraising, restoration, education, and general outreach. Notable accomplishments this past year included:
  • Supporting two land purchases to help protect Cherokee Marsh
  • Supporting Dane County’s efforts to lower lake levels and protect Cherokee Marsh from flooding
  • Removing invasive species such as garlic mustard and cattails 
  • Collecting seeds at Yahara Heights Park
  • Paying for busing to bring children to the marsh for environmental education
  • Helping to sponsor the Bird & Nature Festival at Warner Park 
After Dana’s report, Lesleigh Luttrell gave the Treasurer’s report. (See report in this newsletter.) Lesleigh also noted the growth in the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund. At the end of 2017, the fund had $27,840. During 2018, the fund grew to $33,568. We started the fund in 2013 and are currently aiming to reach to a goal of $100,000. 

Jim Krause thanks Dana Erlandsen for her years of service on the board.

Following Lesleigh’s report, the members thanked retiring Director Erlandsen for her many years of service and dedication to Friends of Cherokee Marsh. Dana was a board member from its early years until 2018. As a thank you for her service, Dana received a beautiful ceramic plate made and donated by Mary Binkley.   
Members elected the following individuals to serve as directors for a three-year term: Timothy Baker, Janet Battista, Russ Hefty, Lesleigh Luttrell, and Mary Manering. Members also elected Sheila Leary to serve a one-year term. Continuing directors in the middle of their two-year terms include: Jan Axelson, Mary Binkley, Jim Krause , Paul Noeldner, and Anita Weir.
After the member meeting and presentation, the directors met briefly to elect officers for the coming year: President Jan Axelson, Vice President Timothy Baker, Secretary Janet Battista, and Treasurer Lesleigh Luttrell will continue in these roles. 
We would also like to thank the many Northside businesses and individuals who helped make our event a success by generously donating door prizes:
Ale Asylum
Benvenuto’s Italian Grill
Culver’s of Madison
Dane County Humane Society
DuWayne’s Salon
Jackie Sandberg
Jean Krieg
Jim Krause
Jung Garden Center
Mary Binkley
Mary Manering
Northside True Value Hardware
Thanks also to Mary Binkley for baking delicious cookies. We very much appreciate having the Warner Park Community Recreation Center to provide a space and coffee for our annual gathering. 

Explore Cherokee Marsh this winter

Jan Axelson

There’s plenty to see and do if you venture out to Cherokee Marsh this winter. Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park has three units that offer something for everyone. 
In the North Unit, you’ll find over three miles of ungroomed trails pen for skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking. Some of the trails also serve as maintenance roads and might be scraped to a thin snow cover. Access these trails from the parking area at the north end of N Sherman Ave.
The South Unit has three miles of trails groomed for classic skiing as snow cover permits. Unlike many of the groomed trails in city parks, these trails have no user fee. Access the trails from the corner of Wheeler Rd and School Rd.
The Mendota Unit has a half mile of trails for skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking. Access the trails from Westport Meadows Park on Beilfuss Dr.
In conservation parks, please stay on trail and leave pets at home. Don’t walk or snowshoe on trails that are groomed for skiing.

A little further afield, Token Creek County Park has four miles of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing and a snowshoe trail. Traveling north on Hwy 51, the park entrance is on the right just past the I90/I94 interchange and the Pine Cone Restaurant. Skiing in this park requires a daily or yearly city/county ski pass, which you can buy on site or online.
If you would like to join others for naturalist-led walks, meet at Cherokee Marsh’s North Unit on the first Sunday of every month at 1:30 pm. These walks are sponsored by the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, Madison Parks, and Madison Friends of Urban Nature and occur every month, year round.
Don’t miss out! Dress warm, get outside, and explore.

A version of this article appeared in the Northside News.

Thanks to our members and volunteers

Our members and volunteers are the heart of our group.

Thanks to thank all who have renewed their memberships for 2019 or recently joined. If you haven't renewed, would like to become a member, please visit to renew or join online or download a form to mail.

And thanks to the volunteers who helped make our candlelight walk a success. Making 450 luminaria, setting them out, lighting them, and picking them all up after the event is no small task! The candlelight event is just one of many activities throughout the year that depend on volunteers. To stay informed about upcoming volunteer events, visit and sign up to receive email announcements.
Thanks to Karen Ludwig for her $40 donation in memory of Dorothy Ludwig.

Share your love of Cherokee Marsh

The River Alliance of Wisconsin wants to hear about the river, lake, stream or watery place in Wisconsin that you love. How, when and why did you fall in love with this place? What do cherish about it? Why/how do you work to protect it? Share a memory, describe an experience, write a haiku, tell us about an adventure you had there in 100 words or less. Add a photo if you wish. 

Submit your story.

Keep an eye out, as the River Alliance will be featuring their favorite submissions during The Big Share day of giving on March 5th.

Also, don't forget that the Friends and the Northside News are seeking good photos of Cherokee Marsh.

If you would like to see your photos in this newsletter and in other publicity for the Friends, we would love to hear from you. Send to

An upcoming issue of the Northside News, mailed to all Northside Madison households, will feature photos of Cherokee Marsh and other natural areas on the Northside. Send your photos to

A good place to capture photos is at our monthly Bird and Nature Outings and other events; see the calendar below or on our website. Especially needed are photos that show families and kids enjoying the outdoors in and around the marsh. Photos with recognizable children require verbal permission from a parent or guardian for public use.

2018 financial report

Lesleigh Luttrell, Treasurer
Thanks to more than 150 members and donors, the Friends of Cherokee Marsh had another very good year as you can see in our 2018 statement.

Support for providing transportation to the marsh for environmental education was very strong, with 25 donors and successful fund-raisers at Ale Asylum and Benvenuto’s  covering the total cost of the $1200 we sent to the Madison Metropolitan School District. We have already sent the same amount to cover field trip transportation in 2019.

Thanks to 26 donors this year, and the generous donation at the end of 2017, we were able to forward $6480 to the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund. We have just gotten the year-end total in the fund - $32,015.54.  With your help it will continue to grow.
Our expenses in 2018 included support of regular events, such as first Sunday walks and our annual meeting, refreshments for Hayrides & Hikes and supplies for the candlelight walk. An anonymous donor covered the costs for our first ever volunteer picnic.

We replenished our supply of trail maps and brochures, paid regular expenses for PO Box rental and insurance, bought a few supplies, renewed our memberships in the Clean Lakes Alliance and Rock River Coalition, plus made a donation to the Northside Planning Council for the 25th anniversary of an organization that has been so helpful for many Northside groups We also covered some initial costs for a kiosk proposal we are working on with Madison Parks.

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Upcoming events

See full calendar

Bird and nature outings

Sun, Feb 3, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, Where do wild creatures go when it's cold out? with Master Naturalist Alex Singer
Sun, Mar 3, 1:30 pm – 3 pm
first Sunday of EVERY month, year-round, ALWAYS 1:30 pm – 3 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


Volunteer tree & brush removal (Dane County Parks)

Fri, Feb 22, 9 am – 12 noon
Yahara Heights County Park, Caton Lane metal gate entrance. Going north on Hwy 113, turn RIGHT (east) on River Road, then RIGHT (south) on Riverview Road to “T” intersection with Caton Lane, Directly in front across Caton Lane is a metal gate into Yahara Heights County Park.
Plan to arrive by 8:50 am as we would like to be ready to start 9:00 am sharp. Dress appropriate for the weather conditions. Bring your own water.
Chainsaw Safety Training Certification is required if you plan to use a chainsaw during this project.  We always need support from brush haulers too.
Be sure to sign up in advance as it helps in planning for the project and easier for us to notify you of cancellations due to weather or other unforeseen changes we need to share.

Board meetings

Wed, Feb 20, 5:30 pm – 7 pm
Wed, Mar 20, 5:30 pm – 7 pm

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

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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