All posts by Carl Landsness

Restoration Sun. 6/21 9 to 11am

Hello land stewards!

As we continue to be faced with the heavy burden of mounting societal frustration, many of us are feeling a strong desire to give back to our community. While the future will continue to be uncertain, there is much we can accomplish from an ecological perspective.

Aldo Leopold says it best with this quote about ecological certainty: A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

This should be a call to action for many of us as we look out across our community’s large, underutilized public lawns. Friends of Starkweather Creek has been given a rare opportunity to reclaim some of our natural heritage and help it recover.

I would like to invite all of you to take part in this restoration and investment in our ecological future.

Here are the details:

Sunday, 6/21 from 9:00-11:00am: Native Planting at Starkweather Legacy Park: 

gloves, face covering, a small trowel if you have one, and other necessities (water, sunscreen, repellent, etc)

Directions: You can find the new Starkweather Legacy Park located on the corner of McCormick and Commercial Avenue (2998 Commercial Ave). 

This is an extremely exciting project with many moving parts including collaboration from Friends of Starkweather Creek, Eken Park Neighborhood Association, City of Madison Engineering, Bird City Wisconsin, and–hopefully, you!

We have acquired approximately 300 native plants to create a new wildlife (and human!) sanctuary along Starkweather Creek. City Engineering has already performed the site preparation and the plants are ready for the new home in our watershed. This is the first stage of many future stages for this area (100 state-endangered Wild Hyacinth bulbs arrive next month and we have received a grant for purchasing native seed that will need to be broadcast).

Our groups continue to remain small and we will be adhering to social distancing requirements. Hand sanitizer will be available for volunteer use.

Hope to see you all on this minor ecological historic event!
Jeff Steele-FSC Board Member

Pollinator garden MAINTENANCE: Sat 6/6

Challenging, uncertain times call call for hope and ways to give back to the world around us. Our activities may seem small in the grand scheme of problems facing society–but I assure you, they fall directly in line with environmental justice. The spot you pull an invasive plant  today may be the spot a prairie seedling grows tomorrow and when that seedling turns into a mature plant it will provide for literally hundreds of species. I’m reminded of a quote from John Muir:
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
Hopefully John Muir’s inspiring words have motivated you to help with some cathartic weed pulling! Here are the details for this Saturday morning’s activity:
Saturday, 6/6 from 9:30-10:30am: Pollinator Garden Maintenance at Washington Manor Park: Well, the mosquitoes are back in full force so I thought I would use this opportunity to tackle some of FSC’s more manicured areas (well away from bloodsucking nuisances). Various non-native grasses have invaded an otherwise beautiful new-ish pollinator garden at Washington Manor Park. The more hands we have pulling, the faster this activity will go. Bring: gloves, face covering, your favorite weed pulling tool (if you have one), and other necessities (water, sunscreen, repellent, etc)
Directions: You can find the pollinator garden by walking east through Washington Manor Park (801 N Oak Street). Can’t miss it.
Our groups continue to remain small and we will be adhering to social distancing requirements. Hand sanitizer will be available for volunteer use. Hope to see you all on a (relatively) crisp Saturday morning! 
Jeff-FSC Board Member

Virtual tours & teasers

For those itching to explore the watershed…
but not ready to get too close to humans…
I offer a few “virtual” outings of the past six months…
to savor what was…
or long for what can be:
Fall color paddle
White winter wonderland (two days later)
12:12 full moonrise paddle
2:15 Starkweather Woods Sanctuary restoration
2:22:2020 tromp scouting
2:22:2020 tromp across bridges and into Bridges

More restorations (for people and place) are planned.
Tromps and paddles are occurring spontaneously for small spaced groups.
Larger planned outings (and cleanups) soon.

Sat. 3/7 tromp through the wetlands north of Amazon & voit proposals: 10 to noon

For a full-feeling exposure to the diverse wetlands (and uplands) north of the Amazon & Voit proposals & properties…
meet in the parking lot just N of the east metro transfer station (in front of former Swiss Colony) at 10am Sat. 3/7…
prepared to tromp through challenging terrain, brush, brambles, burrs, snow, water and trash.

This is not for everyone.

We will deeply tune in to the land…
asking it (and Mother Earth) what is needed to serve the heart & soul of both people & place (as I wrote city leaders below, embedding a FSC letter to Amazon).

We will also tune in to this vision for the area…
asking people & place for higher perspective & possibilities.

And we will expect magic & miracles to manifest…
like those of our 2/22/2020 tromp.

Sent: Friday, February 28, 2020, 3:01:02 PM CST
Subject: Friends of Starkweather letter to Amazon CEO re win-win ways with their Milwaukee St proposal and appeal

Dear Madison leaders and stakeholders in Amazon’s proposal for Milwaukee St distribution center,

Friends of Starkweather Creek (FSC) just sent the below letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos…seeking to appeal to hearts of humans in Amazon (vs. corporate facade and attorneys)…towards a win-win way with both people & place.

Some (not all) of the FSC board were concerned that the property owner appeal has a strong legal case…and that fighting the property owners and Amazon through a judicial process could lead to a major lose-lose scenario…for both people & place.

The below letter went through many revisions…seeking to honor many diverse inputs from board members and other select stakeholders…a hard, humbling but invaluable process.It reached a super-majority consent…but not complete consensus. 
We are working on a similar process re the controversial PFAS issues.

I/we welcome your inputs…to listen with giraffe ears on.

Carl Landsness
Starkweather native, invasive and FSC Co-Chair

Subject: A win-win potential for Amazon’s proposed distribution center in Madison WI
Date:  Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:12:16 -0600
From:  Friends of Starkweather Creek <>

Feburary 28th 2020:

Dear Amazon leaders and liaisons for the Milwaukee St. proposal in Madison WI,

Friends of Starkweather Creek ( is a volunteer stewardship, education and advocacy organization for the 24 square mile watershed surrounding your proposal on Milwaukee St. in Madison, including a 40 acre wetland directly adjacent to your proposal. We (FSC) work with nearby community centers, schools, non-profits, for-profits and diverse neighborhoods (plus city, county, state and university resources) to serve & honor both people & place.

Your recent proposal for a parking lot at 3630 Milwaukee St. caught most stakeholders by surprise, including FSC.  It triggered anger and mistrust by many, because it appeared to sidestep public scrutiny and desires.
FSC wishes to better understand what you seek and explore win-win ways to work together.Your very noble Community Giving (, Sustainability ( and Bezos Earth Fund ( initiatives strongly appeal to us.

The adjacent wetlands are very abused and sensitive eco-systems, with major opportunities to model and inspire new and creative collaborations to restore or renew such urban eco-systems (in alignment with your noble initiatives).
We welcome a discussion with you well before the March 17 public hearing.

Carl Landsness
David Pulkowski
Friends of Starkweather Creek Co-Chairs
Post Office Box 8442
Madison, WI 53708-8442

To serve & honor both people & place

A tantalizing tale of the 2/22/2020 tromp

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A distant distorted relative of Mark Twain (disguised as co-chair Dave) had this to tell (or two tall tale) about today’s white winter wonder:

Somewhere between 4 to 5 and 75 of us got together, if you count all the ducks and muskrats & woodpeckers. The launch at Olbrich this afternoon was a snowy downhill traverse onto the frozen tundra. I can’t tell you how far those two co-chairs went… but they went out of sight cackling on about nothing for at least an hour. They met up with the walking crew up the road… or backside to the south wind. Watching the ducks nimble and pick away at what they were eating showed us a better launch for next time. This section, which the ducks use as a walkway to get in and out of the creek, it’s just up and over the small hill by McCormick & Commercial Avenue. Look for the ducks hanging out. They don’t give three quacks about the signs posted up over there.

We walked up the bike path over the noisy Aberg bridge into the Starkweather Woods, where it becomes quieter, and the landscape opens up. Stories got told, wet foot prints got left behind, the day melting away. Meandering, snowballs, walks on the golf course & even hopping the fence to the airport and air national guard sure drew some attention!

We all learned, it’s hard to run in snow!

The walk back was quiet & reflective. The sun soaked day, among perfect

Strangers, who became friends by the time the sun fell behind the clouds. Hugging a big silver maple, back where we started. The trickster squirrel had the final words for standing too close to its nest.

 favorite mentor of Carl (disguised as co-chair Carl) had this perspective:

Mr. Dave was not intimidated by the frozen creek at the Olbrich launch… making gallant (or goofy) attempts to emulate over the frozen tundra (here and here)… finally luring poor innocent Carl into a canoe for moral (or immoral) support.

Only because Carl had a wimpy juicy cold excuse… and had nature walkers waiting up the creek for a 2:22 start… did our calm collected co-chairs abandon this adventure (for a day).

After a sweetly serene connection with the ducks at McCormick Park (and our future launch site)… five mortals (and endless immortals) ventured north of Aberg to the sites Carl previewed on 2/19 (herehere and here)… and then up the Starkweather Woods trail along the creek where we cleared fallen trees and invasive buckthorn the last two months.

We then crossed over into the rolling expanse of Bridges Golf Course (not available during golf season)… awed by the white winter wonder (here and here

And then the “PFAS channel

And further out on the Bridges tundra

Before ‘returning to where we started…only to know it for the first time
while listening to (and loving) a grand old tree (and a squirrel overhead)…in a special rebirth sanctuary (that Jeff Steele midwifes and nurtures): The Starkweather Legacy Sanctuary.

Wow. Magic & miracles were flowing & flying on today’s 2/22.

Starkweather woods walk (and POSSIBLE paddle) 2/22/2020 at 2:22pm (1:11 for paddle)

To explore the magical trails along the creek in Starkweather Woods (between Aberg and Anderson) in winter white wonder…
AND the Bridges Golf Course snow-covered beauty…
meet at the Commercial Av. bridge over Starkweather Creek (by Oak St) at 2:22pm Sat. 2/22/2020.

for an ice-breaker paddle adventure…
meet at Olbrich boat launch N of Atwood E of creek at 1:11pm…
to see if water and ice are paddle-able and break-able…
with canoes launch-able…
and paddlers adventure-able…
to paddle to the Commercial St. bridge by 2:22.

We will walk N across Aberg to the Bridges Golf Course (here)…
and then to the trails on the E side of the creek (here and here)…
and then up towards MATC (here and here)…
before circling back through the golf course.

For paddlers…
the creek at the Ivy St. bridge above the fork looked like this on 2/19.

Forecast is 40 deg sun.

Contact Carl Landsness for questions:

1/21 board mtg 7-9pm at GCC

I invite all interested in the Starkweather Creek watershed to our monthly board meeting Tues. 1/21 at 7pm at Goodman CC on Waubesa (Street of the Swan). Recent controversies re PFAS pollution and F-35’s have put Starkweather in statewide spotlights. 

I welcome your presence & essence to help heal & honor people & place… synergizing head & heart, inner & outer, self & other, ego & soul, physical & metaphysical.

Carl Landsness
Starkweather native, invasive, prodigal son and Friends of Starkweather Co-Chair

PS I will be available for an hour before and after to answer questions…
or dream new possibilities and paradigms

Draft agenda

ORGANIZATIONAL (Business/Administration)

  • Centering and connecting: Carl – 2 min
  • Past minutes approval/ plans for future minutes: all – 3 to 5 min
  • Treasurer’s report: Doug – 3 min
  • Strategic planning report: Dave – 5 to 10 min
  • Website/FB/Google Docs/Communication status and plans: Dave/all –  5 to 10 min
  • Future meeting format: Dave/Carl/all – 5 to 10 min



  • Starkweather Woods 1/25 workday plans: Dave – 2 to 3 min 
  • Native plantings, invasive removal, grants: Jeff – 3 to 5 min
  • City Engineering $5K budget: Lance – 3 min
  • Voit plans: Dea/Matt Diebel? – 10 to 15 min
  • Chloride study status: Carl – 1 min
  • PFAS reports, petitions, film, forums and plans: Lance – 10 to 15 min 

As we heal the watershed, the watershed heals us
As we heal ourselves, we heal the watershed

12/21 Solstice walk (and possible paddle)… re hidden gifts and grace

Carl Landsness (Starkweather native, invasive and Friends of Starkweather Creek co-chair) will facilitate a “shortest day” solstice walk (Sat. 10am at Goodman CC) to explore the pregnantly potent possibilities for new birth that this day represents…including from the dark articles in the WSJ and  Cap Times recently re PFAS in Starkweather:

DNR: High levels of PFAS found in Starkweather Creek, Wisconsin RiverChris Hubbuch | Wisconsin State JournalLevels of two compounds — PFOA and PFOS — were measured at concentrations more than 30 times the safe level se…

Unknown fear: Madison residents are increasingly alarmed by PFAS levels …Steven Elbow | The Capital TimesLance Green has been collecting water samples from Starkweather Creek for years. As a volunteer for the state De…

Carl will invite sharing of reactions to these articles (or related rumors and feelings)…
and explore rebirth possibilities or perspectives…
to co-create something better than had this not occurred…
i.e. hidden gifts and grace disguised as pain and problems

This will emerge while walking to stunningly uplifting places (from Goodman CC) on and near the creek (e.g. Olbrich Gardens and FSC canoe launch
120A04D7 B2E2 473E A550 22DBFE267D69Olbrich magic 1

October winter wonderland 1Two days after warm weather canoe launch
to revere the beauty…
and dream of new birth, beauty and FUN…including a possible paddle Saturday afternoon (if weather, water and whims call)…

12:12 launch 1 of 4 At Starkweather mouth for 4:14 full moonrise

12:12 launch 2 of 4

12:12 launch 3 of 412:12 launch 4 of 4

Carl finds such incredible beauty and magic an intriguing contrast to fear-focused images of Starkweather that many read in the media articles. 
STARK weather? Or stimulating beauty?
Focus on fear? Or faith and FUN (i.e. Friends of Urban Nature fun)?

Meet: Goodman Community Center 10 a.m.

More infoMadison Parks Bird & Nature Outings