About us

Friends of Starkweather Creek (FSC) was started in February 2002 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to promote the rejuvenation of Starkweather Creek. Over the years, FSC has organized creek clean-ups and celebrations to raise awareness and pride in the creek. We also actively advocate for responsible development in the watershed and for commitments from city government to improve the creek.

Board of Directors

Aaron Cutler
Sean Gere
Lance Green (Co-Chair)
Doug Johnson (Treasurer)
John Newman
Paul Noeldner
David Pulkowski
Mike Rupiper (Co-Chair)
Ralph Smith
Jeff Steele
James Winkelman (Secretary)
Kacy Zander

Lance Green

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Lance enjoying a paddle on the creek.

Lance has been lovin life here on Madison’s East side, walking, biking and paddling along the creek for over 30 years. He’s taught math and science in high schools and college, ran a pilot recycling pick-up program for Madison, given 150 talks on recycling to all ages as “Mr Green Genes,” worked two years at a nuclear weapons plant to eventually shut it down and for 20 years administered a Wisconsin DNR program to reduce releases of ozone-depleting gases. A lifelong peace and environmental organizer and activist, Lance 
now serves on the Sustainable Madison Committee and Friends of Starkweather Creek Board.

Paul Noeldner

Paul has been passionately involved with the Friends group for about the last four years, contributing his uniquely diverse skills in inspiring and enthusiastic ways. He is master naturalist, expert birder and the powerhouse behind a hugely successful collaboration of Madison Parks, Madison Audubon, Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) and various community centers and friends groups throughout the city… including 3rd Saturday outings with FSC.

David Pulkowski

Dave's out on the mountains

Dave helps out with a little bit of everything. He is always searching out people who are passionate who enjoy sharing their skill with other people, especially kids; since he is one of the instigators for the Watershed Wanderers that has occurred for the last two years. If he is not, out running all over the eastside of Madison, or bike commuting through the streets, you can catch him outside rockclimbing out at Devils Lake or somewhere in the mountains.

James Winkelman

James was first exposed to Friends of Starkweather Creek through the Goodman Community Center. During the summers of 2018 and 2019 he led the watershed wonders and wanderers group with a group of his students.  After Graduating from UW-Madison’s Water Resource Management master’s program, James’ started working for the DNR as a wastewater specialist. My goal with Starkweather Creek is to build connections with community through shared experiences on the watershed, exploring all it has to offer. If he’s not exploring the outdoors you will probably find him playing board games, the guitar and cheering for the Buffalo Bills.

Jeff Steele

Jeff is a water quality specialist with UW-Madison who is passionate about native plants and connecting people to nature. He enjoys leading walks with Madison’s Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) and is interested in restoring the Starkweather watershed to its former glory. Jeff hopes that by sharing his knowledge of ecology with the community that it will bring awareness to the beauty and importance of the natural world.

Mike Rupiper

Mike has been a watershed resident since 2007. He is an environmental engineer and planner by profession, and a canoeist and native plant enthusiast by passion. In addition to volunteering with Friends of Starkweather Creek, Mike conducts water quality monitoring on the creek with the Rock River Coalition and is on the Clean Lakes Alliance Community Board.

Kacy Zander

Kacy (in the back) enjoying the creek.

An Ohio Native and single mom fell in love with Wisconsin’s  Rolling hills ,waterways and creative vibe. She moved here with her son in 2001 and enrolled in classes and obtained a diploma in advertising broadcasting . She started work at a local news channel as well as  teaching snowboarding so her son could go for free. After several different jobs, raising her son and a bit of empty nest she found herself unhappy and needing a change. After releasing nearly all her possessions and through great metamorphosis she had a vision for a non-profit called ReCreate using artistic expression, holistic modalities and journeys into the wilderness leading one to their own greatness and in awe of Mama. Through this now grassroots of 5 years ReCreate and perfect timing , she  lives within Occupy Madison who houses what used to be housless folks creating a resilient and sustainable community. Her desire to give back to Mama while using this most special creeks modalities to lead others into awe, well it was a win-win.  She is most excited about collaboration between grassroots expanding on ways to keep her waterways clean while learning how to be better stewards together.

In Memoriam: Carl Landsness

Carl on the creek during a tour
Carl on a creek tour

In Memory of Carl Landsness – A noble soul who enjoyed the creek as a youth and cared for it with us in his later years.

Carl was a Madtown and Starkweather native son, prodigal son, placemaker, peacemaker, troublemaker, recovering analytic, reformed rescuer and reborn steward (making amends for massive mischief all over the watershed in his 50’s/60’s youth).
After 30 years away (seduced by the glitter, glamour and gold of west coast hi-tech yuppiedom), he returned in 02, celebrating half and grieving half the changes he saw (outside and inside).
Paddling up the creek (with a paddle) for the first time in 04 (with FSC founders Doug Johnson and John Steines) did more to help Carl heal from deep dark depression (his reason for returning to Madison) than any pill or professional ever did.
He saw nature (especially Starkweather) as a key vehicle for helping heal people and place in win/win ways… especially down and dirty clean-ups and childlike play: i.e. weaving the patience, wisdom and humility of the wounded elder with the wonder, awe and glee of the innocent child… the perfect antidote for Nature Deficit Disorder.
Landsness Legacy Park has been established in his honor.

Water Advocacy