February Nature Walk

What happens when you get a sunny 50 degree day in February, with half
of the FSC board and 14 people total and a few dogs??? A tree
crawl…no beer needed. Don’t let Sean Gere fool you with his Clark Kent
glasses…he is a super hero for the trees!….he has over 26 years
experience, teaching, learning and sharing his knowledge with people
from all Around the world. Sean Gere explaing about the trees he loves

Sean helped us identify about 25 to 30 different species of trees;
he shared in showing us the different characteristics of the buds, how to
identify them…and just some good ol’ tree rules of thumb! Carl, Dave &
Deborah rounded out the remaining board members…the usual suspects as
of late. Who wants to eat some seeds!

Since Dave is easily distracted on a warm day…he decided to join the
kids in throwing sticks as far as they could in Worth Park’s open
field, next to the bike path. The kids and Deborah worked on daring each other into eating
some of the tree seeds that they found on the ground, from the previous two
seasons. When it became time to move, the kids felt like helping mother
nature melt the snow by, making sure the ice made its way down the storm
drain….jamming as much ice as they could in there!…this left mother
nature to share the gift of calming winds & bright warm rays on our faces.

The walk ended before we hit Milwaukee street! As everyone else went
back to Goodman, Carl, Deborah and the kids started a new adventure;
they went seeking out one tree…this one tree is visited every time
Carl takes you on a tour…it’s a very special tree in the watershed This tree has many stories, which these kids can tell you about!

January nature walk

Monthly nature outings at Starkweather Creek are a great way to explore this local, urban gem! Outings each month vary, but thus far have included canoeing, biking, sledding, and hiking. A handful of us stepped out into the Starkweather Watershed last Saturday for what seemed like a spring-like walk…it was nearing 50 degrees and melting snow created puddles that were knee-deep…the kids who joined us had a blast splashing in them.

We meandered through the little trails near the Milwaukee Street area; this particular area is great because it is the perfect blend of an urban environment and nature — housing in the visible distance leads to tree lined trails and the creek. On one of the trails, we came across had vine-like branches that hang down, 50 feet tall & strong enough for adults to swing on! Continuing on, the trails takes us near Fair Oaks, which made for an adventurous crossing as we slid our way haphazardly in rubber boots and shoes across a natural ice skating rink that Mother Nature had created for us. Join us on a future outing, which occurs the third Saturday of every month from 10-11:30 AM, meeting at the Goodman Community Center. Check out our events calendar for upcoming events!

Canoe Racks

Hi all, check this out fundraiser out we are working on Canoe Racks

We are raising funds for a publicly accessible canoe rack near the Olbrich Playfields at the outlet of the creek! The racks will be built and maintained by City of Madison Parks Department. Some of the twelve racks will be dedicated to canoe storage for Friends canoe tours and clean up events. The rest will be available for rental from the public. Please help us meet our goal of $800.

The Friends of Starkweather Creek lead events on the creek each year, including free public tours, creek cleanups, and a kids camp in partnership with Goodman Community Center. We currently rely on the generosity of boat rental companies and volunteered labor to haul canoes to the public boat launch.

Canoe outing

The City of Madison Parks Department has arranged to build and install a rack at the boat launch near the Olbrich Playfield, in exchange for a reduced donation. This means that we won’t have to limit tours based on the availability of canoe trailers or rented equipment. Racks will greatly reduce the labor involved in hosting tours, allowing us to host events more regularly. Thanks to the partnership with Goodman, having a canoe rack would help us get kids out onto the creek. It’s a win-win!

$500 will go towards the boat rack (reduced from $1,000). $300 will go towards Friends of Starkweather Creek rental costs (also 50% discounted) for the first year.

If we raise more than our goal, funds could go towards life jackets, paddles, equipment storage, as well as towards making this program sustainable for future years.

FreshWater Engineering Report on Starkweather Creek

Friends of Starkweather Creek is proud to have worked with the City of Madison Engineering and FreshWater Engineering to produce an updated report on sampling for toxicities on the creek.

Here is a link to the draft report. Draft Final Semipermeable Membrane
Device (SPMD) Water Quality Sampling Study of Starkweather Creek

The original sampling for the Water Resources Management report, Starkweather Creek Watershed: Current Conditions and Improvement Strategies in an Urban Context, showed the worst water quality in a golf course ditch and a site immediately downstream of the airport. The third most toxic location after the ditch and airport was a site near Milwaukee Street.

The updated sampling compared the 2005 study to the current 2016 study and found that

“water quality has improved in all sampling site locations except for the “East Towne Mall” location. Considering toxicity, the primary area of concern is the “Golf Course Ditch” location. This is by far the area where the water quality is the worst. This water within the creek throughout this reach is standing water during base conditions with little to no flow. The airport is also a concern for pollution as the results show that between the above and below airport testing sites, there is a 55% light reduction over approximately 3.5 miles of creek length. The land adjacent to this length of creek is owned and operated by the Dane County Regional Airport and though it’s still in poor condition compared to the rest of the creek, this reach has shown improvement since the 2005 study.

Interest in the Kipp Corporation’s effluent discharging into Starkweather Creek was brought up as a
potential source of contamination to the creek…. However, from the background research that was reviewed and the results of the SPMD analysis, there is no noticeable increase in (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) PAHs downstream of the Kipp Corporation. Sample analysis indicates, the Kipp Corporation effluent does not decrease the water quality in Starkweather Creek or contribute additional PAHs to the waterbody.”

We will post the final report when it is ready.

2016 Calendar of Events

Friends of Starkweather Creek
2016 Calendar of Events

CONTACT US at info@starkweatherfriends.org if you want to volunteer to help at our listed events or if you’d like to lead a bike/hike/canoe tour. 


11th:    Tree Walk led by Sean Gere. 10:00 am. Walking Tour of Starkweather Creek led by certified arborist Sean Gere of Gere Tree Care. Meet at Olbrich Park near the beach.

15th:  Goodman Summer Camp begins (featuring tours of the creek for the campers)

19th: Solstice Bonfire.  5:00 – 10:00 pm.  Friends of Starkweather Creek and the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association are going back to basics with the 14th annual Starkweather Summer Solstice Celebration on Sunday, June 19th from 5 – 10 pm. This free event, held below the sledding hill at Olbrich Park on Lake Monona, features free canoe rides starting at 5 pm, music, drumming, singing, and dancing all finishing with a bonfire lighting before dusk. Bring thoughts to forget and lose in the fire ash and wishes to ascend with the smoke as we celebrate the beginning of Summer. For information: madsolstice dot org or 608-251-1893.

21st:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center

28th:  Earth Partnership for Schools tour of Starkweather Creek

FSC Board Activities:  Creek Monitoring, Watershed Wanderers Camp in partnership with Goodman Center


19th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center

30-31:  Table at Atwood Fest.  Learn more about Starkweather Creek at our table.  VOLUNTEERS TO BE AT THE TABLE ARE NEEDED.  To volunteer, send us a message at info@starkweatherfriends.org

FSC Board Activities:  Creek Monitoring, Watershed Wanderers Camp in partnership with Goodman Center


16th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center

TBD:  Bike Tour

FSC Board Activities:  Creek Monitoring



20th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center

TBD: Canoe Tour

FSC Board Activities:  Creek Monitoring



Annual Meeting:  TBD


18th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center

FSC Board Activities:  Creek Monitoring



Dec 21st:  Winter Solstice Celebration at Olbrich Gardens.  Meet at the baseball diamond near the lake for a parade and BONFIRE.

Water Advocacy