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Cherokee Marsh

Feb / Mar 2021

In this edition

Annual meeting and special guest — virtually

Friends members as well as folks from around the country enjoyed University of Wisconsin Professor Emeritus Stan Temple's January 19 virtual presentation, What have we done to deserve all these cranes?

Among the things we learned:

After recovering from near extinction, Wisconsin has become the epicenter of greater sandhill crane breeding. Virtually every suitable habitat in the state has nesting cranes, causing pairs to branch out to neighboring states to find nesting sites.

During fall migration, tens of thousands of cranes gather along the Wisconsin River in the evening at the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area in Sauk and Columbia counties west of Portage. The Aldo Leopold Foundation offers tours to view the cranes.

If you missed the presentation or would like to see it again:

What have we done to deserve all these cranes?

At our January 20 member meeting, we elected directors Timothy Baker, Lesleigh Luttrell, and Mary Manering for terms that will end at our 2023 member meeting. Continuing directors Jan Axelson, Mary Binkley, Sheila Leary, Jim Mand, and Paul Noeldner are in the middle of their 2-year terms. Jan Axelson thanked retiring director Russ Hefty, who will continue to be involved with our group as an advisor.

Sheila Leary presented a video reviewing the past year. View it here:

2020 year in review

Lesleigh Luttrell gave the Treasurer's report:

Following the member meeting, the directors met to elect officers for the coming year: President Jan Axelson, Vice President Timothy Baker, Secretary Mary Manering, and Treasurer Lesleigh Luttrell will continue in their officer roles.
Have you renewed your membership?

Thanks to thank all who have renewed their memberships for 2021 or recently joined.

If you haven't renewed or would like to become a member, please visit to renew, join online, or download a form to mail.
Welcome to our new member coordinator Shirley Mand, and big thanks to retiring member coordinator Joanie Kanter, who carried us through 2020. When you renew your membership, you'll receive a thank you letter from Shirley.

Explore the snowy outdoors on skis, snowshoes, or boots

Here are some ideas for getting out and enjoying our snowy winter in the Cherokee Marsh watershed.

You can snowshoe and hike in Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park's North and Mendota Units. Please stay on trail and leave pets at home. Other locations with trails include Dane County's Yahara Heights Park, Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area just east of Yahara Heights, and Token Creek Park, which has a dedicated snowshoe trail. Dogs on leash and off-trail exploring are allowed on these county lands. 

When conditions allow, Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park's South Unit has trails groomed for classic cross-country skiing. The trails require no fee or permit. Token Creek County Park has trails groomed for classic and skate skiing. Please don't hike or snowshoe on trails that are groomed for skiing. 

Ice fishing is popular at Cherokee Lake off Burning Wood Way in the Cherokee Park neighborhood. For supplies and advice, visit D & S Bait and Tackle, 1411 Northport Drive. 

Be aware that the lake and river ice is never officially declared safe for walking or other activities. This winter, Dane County has responded to multiple calls to rescue those who had fallen through the ice. If uncertain, don't risk it.

And don't forget that Madison Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) sponsors monthly, small-group, guided bird and nature adventures at Cherokee Marsh's North Unit. If you prefer to adventure on your own, FUN has suggestions for where to go and what to look for each month. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Winter Fun in Madison Parks

Winter Recreation in Dane County Parks
Our volunteers have been busy burning brush piles at Yahara Heights Park.
We would like to acknowledge the following recently received special donations:

Karen Ludwig and Michael Litzkow in memory of Dorothy Ludwig
Brad Walker in memory of Dick Walker
Muriel Simms in memory of Jim Hughes
Nancy Vidlak in honor of Mary Binkley

COVID-19 update

Bird and nature adventures

Our monthly adventures are continuing, now limited to the first 20 participants on site, no advance signups. See the Events calendar in this newsletter for details. 

As conditions change, we may add or change events. Check our website calendar for the latest updates.

Self-guided adventures

See what you can find! Visit natural areas on your own for self-guided adventures. Find suggestions for self-guided walks at Cherokee Marsh and other local natural areas from Madison Friends of Urban Nature (FUN):

Board meetings

Our board meetings will likely continue to be held virtually for some time. If you are interested in attending a virtual board meeting, contact Sheila Leary at for details. 

Latest updates on COVID-19 openings, closures, and more

COVID-19 update from Madison Parks

Dane County Parks Changes and Updates Due to COVID-19

Public Health Madison & Dane County updates

Upcoming events

Check the listed contact information to verify that events are still on.

See the full calendar for latest information or sign up to receive notices about events and volunteer opportunities.

Self-guided nature adventures

Get ideas for your own self-guided nature adventures at Cherokee Marsh and other locations.

Madison Audubon has posted a self-guided bird walk for Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park's North Unit:

A Winter Walk Through Cherokee North

Bird and nature adventures

Limited to the first 20 participants on site, no advance signups.

Do not use parks or trails if you are sick with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Maintain a social distance of at least six feet from people other than your household members.

Sun, Feb 7, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, Winter ecology and wetlands with naturalist guide Jeff Steele. What's going on beneath the surface?
Sun, March 7, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, Sugar moon, hunger moon with Master Naturalist Kathlean Wolf. Will winter come to a warm and welcome end, or will the cold hang on until only the strongest survive?  
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 area at the end of the gravel road.

Contact: Paul Noeldner,, 608-698-0104

Madison Parks bird and nature adventure page

Receive notices about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities

Our newsletter comes out 6 times per year. You can also sign up to receive timely notices and reminders, including announcements for last-minute events and volunteer opportunities that don't make it into the newsletter.
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