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Cherokee Marsh

Feb / Mar 2020

In this edition

Photo by Jim Krause

Annual meeting featured Ho-Chunk singers, dancers, and history

At our annual member meeting on January 11, Elliott Funmaker and the Wisconsin Dells Singers and Dance Troupe shared their Ho-Chunk traditions, handmade regalia, songs, and dances. The Yahara River watershed and DeJope/Four Lakes (Madison) region are a small part of Ho-Chunk ancestral lands.

We kearned that the dancers made the regalia they were wearing, which included intricate beadwork, a jingle dress with hundreds of hanging "jingles" made from chewing tobacco tins, and golden eagle feathers. (Native Americans may legally possess eagle feathers.)

At the close of the presentation, the troupe invited all to join in a traditional dance of friendship and provided time for attendees to ask questions, share thoughts, and engage in one-on-one discussions with the dancers.

Preceding the presentation, director Sheila Leary reviewed 2019 and provided a look ahead to the future, and Lesleigh Luttrell gave the Treasurer's report.

President Jan Axelson thanked retiring directors Janet Battista, Jim Krause, and Anita Weir. Jan also shared memories of long-time Friends members and volunteers Dick Walker and Robert Schmidt, both of whom passed in 2019.

Our members elected directors to serve in 2020-2021: Jan Axelson, Mary Binkley, Sheila Leary, Jim Mand, and Paul Noeldner. Continuing directors in the middle of their two-year terms are Timothy Baker, Russ Hefty, Lesleigh Luttrell, and Mary Manering.

After the member meeting and presentation, the directors met to elect officers for the coming year: President Jan Axelson, Vice President Timothy Baker, Co-secretaries Mary Binkley and Mary Manering, and Treasurer Lesleigh Luttrell.

For donating door prizes, we thank Mary Binkley, Loren Hatleberg, Sheila Leary, Lesleigh Luttrell, Tom Murn, and Paul Noeldner.
Photo by Tom Reuter

Thanks to our volunteers

Big thanks to our many volunteers who helped make January 25th's 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 unexpectedly large turnout for this year's event led to serious traffic jams on the entrance road. We thank everyone for their patience with the delays. For future events of this size, we will have a traffic management plan.

The candlelight event is just one of many activities throughout the year that depend on volunteers. To stay informed about upcoming volunteer events, including many events that don't make it into the newsletter due to time constraints, visit and sign up to receive email announcements. 

New trail maps available for North and South Units

We are happy to announce that Madison Parks has released updated and improved trail maps for Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park's North and South Units. The maps include trails constructed on recent additions to the park and also show viewpoints, Native American mounds, and other points of interest. 
Cherokee Marsh - North Unit, located at the north end of North Sherman Avenue, has 3.6 miles of trails. The new Woodpecker Trail passes through restored prairie and open oak woods on 46 acres acquired by the City of Madison in 2008 and 2009. 

Cherokee Marsh - South Unit, with a main entrance at the corner of Wheeler Road and School Road, also has 3.6 miles of trails. The addition of 73 acres on the east end of the park in 2010 allowed for expanding an existing trail loop and adding a new loop to the east.
You can view the maps at the Friends of Cherokee Marsh’s website at The Friends also provide printed maps at the North Unit’s kiosk. By the time you read this, an updated large map may be posted on the kiosk.

Cherokee Marsh - North Unit map

Cherokee Marsh - South Unit map

A version of this story appeared in the Northside News. 

Have you renewed your membership?

Thanks to thank all who have renewed their memberships for 2020 or recently joined. If you haven't renewed or would like to become a member, please visit to renew or join online or download a form to mail.

2019 Treasurer's report

Lesleigh Luttrell
On the income side, thanks to generous members and donors the Friends received more than $5600 in regular contributions in 2019. Additional donations for environmental education and the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund brought in more than $3000. We again received a retirement fund distribution from a long-time supporter.

We are grateful to family and friends who sent in more than $1600 in donations in 2019 in memory of loved ones. A couple of fundraisers (thanks to hosts Ale Asylum and Benvenuto’s) added to the total. 
We sent $1200 to the Madison Metropolitan School District for support of hands-on environmental education. Our expenses included supplies and other support for events, including our first Sunday walks at the marsh, first evening Moth Walk, our annual meeting, and having a table at the Wisconsin Wetlands Conference. We renewed our memberships in the Clean Lakes Alliance, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, and Groundswell Conservancy.

We added donations to the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund. Monies received for the fund late in the year, more than $2000, have now been sent to the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin to add to the fund. We are waiting for the official end of year amount in the fund, but a recent report put the balance at over $38,000. Every year distributions from the fund support restoration efforts in the Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area.

In memoriam 

Thank you to the friends and family of long-time Friends member and former director Dick Walker for donating a total of $2420 to the Friends in Dick's memory. Dick joined our board in its early days and helped shepherd it through a period of growth and expansion.

Our thanks also for the following donations:
from Phyllis Davis in memory of Kathy Trudell, $50
from David Lewke in memory of Clara Lewke, $15
From Karen Ludwig in memory of Dorothy Ludwig, $35

Natural Resources Foundation field trips are coming up

As many Friends members know, each year the Natural Resources Foundation (NRF) of Wisconsin sponsors hundreds of field trips that highlight the best of Wisconsin’s natural resources. The trips are unique opportunities for all ages to explore Wisconsin’s lands, waters and wildlife by foot, bike, boat and even train.

For 2020, six of the trips will take place in Cherokee Marsh and its watershed:
  • Kayaking Cherokee Marsh  (fundraiser for Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund)
  • Red-headed Woodpeckers in Cherokee Marsh (fundraiser for Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund)
  • Twilight Paddle on the Upper Yahara River (fundraiser for Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund)
  • Birding without Binoculars
  • Restoring a Lost Landscape: Westport Prairie Partnership
  • Fall Sparrows at Cherokee Marsh
Registration for the field trips begins in Marsh. NRF members receive a catalog and registration code in advance.

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin is a nonprofit formed in 1986 as declining budgets severely compromised critical programs of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources. With the support of donors and members, the NRF has boosted private sector investment and involvement for Wisconsin’s lands, waters and wildlife. 

Learn more and join
Photo by Sue Scott

Upcoming events

See full calendar

Bird and nature outings

Sun, Feb 2, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, join naturalist Jeff Steele for a winter walk through three ecosystems to identify dried seed pods, mammal tracks and scat, winter birds, and much more. This is World Wetlands Day so we will also learn how aquatic animals survive winter in the marsh. 
Sun, March 1, 1:30 pm – 3 pm, Sugar Moon hunger with Master Naturalist guide Kathlean Wolf. 
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

Brush cutting at Cherokee Marsh - Mendota Unit

Tues, Feb 4, 1 - 3 pm

Help cut invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn to open the understory in the woods.
Dress appropriately for the weather and working on uneven ground. Wear closed-toe shoes or boots and gloves. We'll have loppers to use.
Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - Mendota Unit. Meet near the west end of Knutson Dr.
Directions: From the intersection of N. Sherman Ave and Northport Dr, take Northport Dr north for about 1.6 miles and turn left onto Knutson Dr. Continue for about 0.5 mile. Park on the street. The approximate address for navigating is 32 Knutson Dr
If you are planning to attend, it's helpful to let us know by contacting This helps in our planning, and we can let you know of any changes or cancellations. 
Questions? Contact or 608 215 0426 

Tree and brush removal at Yahara Heights

Fri, Feb 7, 9 am – 12 noon
Volunteer work day with Dane County Parks

Please arrive by 8:50 am as we would like to be ready to start 9 am sharp.

Chainsaw Safety Training Certification is required if using a chainsaw during this project. Volunteers are also needed to gather and stack brush.

Dress for the weather. Bring drinking water.

Please be sure to sign up in advance as it helps in planning for the project: cancellations due to weather or other details we need to share.

Sign up

Any questions please feel free to contact:

Rhea: (608)-224-3601
Lars: (608)- 286-9497

Yahara Heights County Park: Caton Lane entrance.  From central Madison, 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 the park. The address for navigating is Caton Ln, Waunakee, WI 53597. map

F-35s, PFAS, Truax and you: a forum

Sun, Feb 9, 2 – 4 pm
The US Air Force is considering basing F-35 fighter jets in Madison. Why should you care? What can you do? Sponsored by Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin.
Madison East High School Auditorium, 2222 E Washington Ave, enter on 4th Street

Board meetings

Wed,  Feb 19, 5:30 pm – 7 pm
Wed, March 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)
Save the date! NEW frog walk, April 25, 7 pm, details to come.

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