Proposed project will remove phosphorus from stream beds


(image courtesy of Dane County)

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. Read more

Conservation Park news and updates

caretakers_houseWe 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. Read more

Welcome to new County Parks Botanist/Naturalist

Here is an announcement and welcome from County Parks Director Darren Marsh to Lars Higdon, the new Dane County Parks Botanist/Naturalist (pictured above).

I am excited to announce the hiring of Lars Higdon as the new Dane County Parks Botanist/Naturalist.  As many of you are aware long time Park Naturalist Wayne Pauly will be retiring at the end of September 2016.  Wayne has worked for more than 42- plus years as our County Naturalist and Restoration Ecologist. Lars will have the unique opportunity to work with Wayne for a couple of months as part of a transition plan.  Lars will begin work on July 27, 2016. Read more

Welcome to new Parks staff

At our July meeting, we welcomed Madison Parks staff members Lisa Laschinger, who recently was promoted to Operations Manager and Paul Quinlan, the new Conservation Resource Supervisor.
From left, Lisa Laschinger, Friends President Jan Axelson, and Paul Quinlan.

Trail system and parking proposed for Yahara Heights

At a public meeting in Westport on July 20, Dane County Parks staff presented plans for a trail system and parking at Yahara Heights Park and the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area adjacent to the park.

The plan does not add any new trails but documents the existing trail system that has been maintained by volunteers. Signage will mark easements across private land.

Also proposed are an improved trailhead and parking lot just north of the dog exercise area on Catfish Ct and a new 5-car parking lot on River Rd just south of Gilkeson Rd.

The long-term plan is to move the parking from Catfish Ct. to River Rd, but this will wait until the intersection of HWY 113 and HWY M is reconfigured at an as-yet undetermined time in the future.

Dine at Benvenuto’s and help bring kids to Cherokee Marsh

kids at Cherokee

Anita Weier

You will have a chance on Tuesday, Aug. 9, to support children’s environmental education while enjoying a Benvenuto’s meal.

Anyone who has lunch or dinner at the Northside Benvenuto’s—or orders delivery or take-out or buys a gift card—will be making a contribution to the Friends of Cherokee Marsh that will help bring groups of schoolchildren to Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park for guided, hands-on learning. However, you must tell the restaurant staff specifically that you want your payment to benefit the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, a nonprofit organization.

Benvenuto’s, located at 1849 Northport Drive in the Northside TownCenter, then will donate a generous 20 percent of the tab to the Friends. The restaurant also offers one-half off bottles of wine on Tuesday nights.

Read more

Updates provided on park projects

We’ve checked with City staff for updates on the new North Unit entrance and trails, the North Unit’s closed restrooms, and the improved paddlecraft launch.

New parking lot and trails (North Unit)

Last year, we reported on plans to move the North Unit’s entrance gate about a half mile to the south, near the current park boundary on N. Sherman Ave. Just inside the gate will be a new parking area with access to new trails that connect to the current trail system. These plans are in the works for completion this year.

Read more

Trail maps and more available at North Unit

Parks has added a literature box to the signboard at Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park’s North Unit (6098 N. Sherman Ave). Check inside for trail maps, upcoming event notices, bird checklists, Nature Passports for kids, and more.

You can also view and download maps and bird checklists directly from our website at

The Nature Passport is a nature-focused scavenger hunt for kids and parents. The Passport guides you in visits to Cherokee Marsh and fifteen other natural areas around Dane County and beyond. Get yours at:

Sign up to become a Master Naturalist this summer!

master naturalistThe Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program is a statewide effort to promote awareness, understanding, and stewardship of our natural resources. Master Naturalists are trained volunteers who provide service in education & interpretation, stewardship, and citizen science.

Master Naturalist training is being offered on Madison’s North Side this summer (and also at the UW arboretum). Class size is limited so sign up soon if interested.

Find out more here: