Friends of Cherokee Marsh newsletter
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Cherokee Marsh


Oct /Nov 2016

In this edition

Map courtesy of Dane County.

Proposed project will remove phosphorus from stream beds

County Executive Joe Parisi's 2017 budget includes funding for a 4-year, $12 million project to use hydraulic dredging to remove phosphorus from stream beds, including the upper Yahara River and Token Creek upstream from Cherokee Marsh.

Phosphorus encourages algae growth that reduces water clarity and results in fish kills due to oxygen depletion caused by algae’s decomposing. Dredging the sediments will prevent them from making their way downstream into Cherokee Marsh and the Yahara Lakes.

The project will begin with a pilot effort on Dorn Creek in the Six Mile Creek watershed. If successful, the project will expand to other targeted stream sections including the upper Yahara River just south of HWY 19 and north of Deforest and Token Creek near HWY 51 and north of HWY 19.

The proposal follows a $60,000 study to analyze water quality and phosphorus content of the streams and creeks that feed into Lake Mendota. Testing showed that the phosphorus concentration in the stream sediments is seven times greater than that of crop fields in the watershed.

The Clean Lakes Alliance is sponsoring a special presentation about the project: Yahara Lakes 101 with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. Kyle Minks and John Reimer of the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department will talk about the sediment removal project and answer questions. Coffee, fruit and pastries provided. Free parking.

Thursday, October 13, 8:00 to 9:00 am
The Edgewater, 1001 Wisconsin Pl
$10, free to Clean Lakes Alliance members
Register to attend

Conservation Park news and updates

We have updates and news about the North Unit’s restrooms, the caretaker’s house, and more.

Caretaker’s house to be replaced

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park’s North Unit has long had an caretaker living on site to open and close the entry gate, perform maintenance such as mowing and plowing, and generally keep a watchful eye on things. The caretaker is a City employee, usually someone from Parks, who pays a reduced rent in exchange for the tasks performed. 

The caretaker’s house, located in the service area at the south end of the riverside maintenance road, was present when the city bought the land years ago. Although the house looks well maintained from a distance, recent inspections have revealed the need for extensive repairs, and Parks has determined that it will be cheaper in the long run to replace the house rather than repair it.

Parks has requested $175,000  in next year’s capital budget to replace the house. The new house might be built just off the parking lot, where it will be a more visible presence compared to the current location, but no decision on this has been made.

The restrooms are closed again

The North Unit’s restrooms were open for a few weeks in September after Parks’ facilities crew sanitized and flushed the well. However, on Sept 22, Parks learned that the most recent water samples failed to pass tests, and the restrooms were closed again. Parks will be adding more portable toilets for the time being.

We will continue to encourage Parks to find and fix the source of the bacteria that has been contaminating the water so the restrooms can open next spring. (Since 2013, as a cost-saving measure, the restrooms have been closed from November until April with a portable toilet on site.)

Upgrades to South Unit entrance delayed

City Engineering received only one bid to upgrade the waste oil dropoff site at South Cherokee, and the amount requested exceeded the funds available, so this project and other improvements to the entrance are on hold while Engineering investigates other options.

More about the project

Construction has begun at site of new development

Construction has begun at the new development just west of N. Sherman Ave, including the storm water pond, water main, sanitary sewer, and sidewalk. This work is expected to be complete by mid-October, with further development expected to follow.

More about the project

DNR recognizes our stewardship

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has provided signs that recognize the Friends' stewardship of the Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area. You can see the signs in the main parking lot of the North Unit and at the Buckley Road parking lot for the Cherokee Marsh Fishery Area. Thanks to volunteer Jim Hughes for installing the signs.

Funding provided for education and conservation

Two recent events have provided funds to two important initiatives.

Our Benvenutos fundraiser earned $175, which we have donated to the Madison School District to bring classes to Cherokee Marsh for environmental education. A big thanks to all who contributed by dining at Benvenutos on Aug 9.

Thanks also to PLATO, the Participatory Learning and Teaching Organization, whose members donated $260 to us as thanks for a guided Cherokee Marsh walk led by Friends President Jan Axelson in June We have donated the money to the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund. PLATO promotes opportunities for intellectual and cultural enrichment for the senior community, including walks in local natural areas.
Back row, from left: Directors Dana Erlandsen, Lesleigh Luttrell, Timothy Baker, Dorothy Wheeler, Jan Axelson, Justin Sargent, Jim Krause, Dick Walker, Front row, from left: Directors Janet Battista, Anita Weier, Paul Noeldner. Not shown: Russ Hefty.

Help lead our group!

Would you like to help guide the Friends in our activities for 2017-2018? The Friends of Cherokee Marsh board of directors is a group of volunteers elected by the members to plan and manage the activities of the group. Every project we undertake is due to the commitment and enthusiasm of our directors.

We are always on the lookout for new directors to help guide the group. We are especially interested in folks with skills or interest in any of these areas: working with volunteers, restoration, member communications and social media, working with kids and schools, fundraising, grant writing, public advocacy, and newsletter writing. But most important is enthusiasm and a willingness to help work toward our goals.

If you are interested in joining our board or finding out more about it, contact me at, (608) 215-0426, or contact any other board member or come to one of our monthly meetings. We usually meet on the third Wednesday of the month at 5:30 pm at the Lakeview Branch of the Madison Public Library, 2845 N. Sherman Ave. Our next meeting is Oct 19. (Contact us to confirm the time and location.) All of our meetings are open to the public.
Hayrides and hikes are back! Join us on Oct 22 or reserve a private hayride for your group. Details below.

Upcoming events

See full calendar

Bird and nature walk

Sun, Oct 2, 1:30pm – 3:00pm
with with School Naturalist Guide Julie Melton. Learn about our native plants and watch for birds in migration.
Sun, Nov 6, 1:30pm – 3:00pm

with Master Naturalist Guide Alex Singer. Enjoy fall weather as we learn how animals prepare for winter.
first Sunday of every month, ALWAYS 1:30pm – 3:00pm

Free, family-friendly bird and nature walk.

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, the Friends of Cherokee Marsh and Madison Audubon Society. Questions? Contact Paul Noeldner at or (608)-698-0104.

Hoo's Woods live bird presentation

Sat, Oct 8, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
See live raptors as Hoo’s Woods director Dianne Moller presents her popular program about birds and her organization's rescue program.

Lakeview Branch Library, 2845 N. Sherman Ave (next to Willy Street Coop North).

Collect prairie seeds 

Thu, October 13, 9am – 12pm

Help collect seeds to use in restoring prairies in Dane County Parks.

Wear long pants and closed toed shoes, wear or bring a long-sleeved shirt and hat, bring drinking water. Collecting bags, clippers, and refreshments provided.

Meet at Yahara Heights Park, Caton Ln entrance. Heading north on HWY 113/Northport Dr., just past HWY M, turn right onto River Rd. Just past the curve, turn right on Riverview Dr., which dead-ends at Caton Ln. Turn right on Caton and drive into the park from the end of Caton Ln. The address for navigating is Caton Ln, Waunakee, WI 53597. (map)

Sponsored by Dane County Parks and the Friends of Cherokee Marsh. Questions? Contact: Rhea (608)-224-3601

Hayrides and Hikes

Saturday, October 22, 1 pm – 4 pm
Tour Cherokee Marsh on a tractor-pulled hay wagon, take a short guided hike, or do both! Enjoy a campfire and free hot cider and roasted marshmallows.

Hayrides are $3/person to offset the cost of Parks staff time. Volunteers from the Friends of Cherokee Marsh will lead free, short nature hikes.

No reservations needed. Show up any time from 1 pm to 3:30 pm for a hayride or hike.

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.


Reserve a private hayride for your group of up to 24. 

Questions? Contact Ann Shea at or (608) 266-5949.

Annual meeting scheduled for January 21

Save the date for our 2017 annual meeting, which we've scheduled for January 21, 10 am – 12 noon, at the Warner Park Community & Recreation Center. More details to follow!

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