All posts by Jeffery Steele

IMAGE GALLERY: Native Plants Returning to Restored Areas along Starkweather Creek

The Friends of Starkweather Creek has recently decided to take a more active role in rejuvenating and restoring the historical ecosystems in our watershed through restoration work parties. Work parties have been a great way to practice ecological restoration, learn about plant communities, and make friends. 

Throughout winter, spring, and summer–volunteers have cut, pulled, pushed, carried, and stacked dozens of bags of garlic mustard and dame’s rocket and stacked hundreds of buckthorn trees into brush piles for wildlife. 

Recently, our volunteer’s hard work has become evident–especially along the Starkweather Woods area. Numerous uncommon native plants previously choked out and suppressed by a wall of invasive species have, for the first time in many years, begun to flower! 

Including on this list is the State Special Concern plant–Glade Mallow which is only grows in high-quality remnant habitats. See the gallery below for pictures, including seven different native plant species documented in this area as restorations have progressed.

Volunteer restoration work parties take place throughout the year so please sign up for our mailing list by sending your email address to You can also stay up-to-date with our latest events by joining our Friends of Starkweather Creek Facebook page. RSVPing for events is helpful for planning purposes.

Friends of Starkwather Creek hopes to see you at our next work day!

New Volunteer Growers Network to Help Restore Watershed

The Friends of Starkweather Creek (FSC) is encouraging those that are interested to sign-up for their new Volunteer Growers Network. If you love growing plants from seed or want to learn how, now is your chance. No previous experience is necessary and all materials are provided! 

FSC volunteers are currently collecting seeds from remnant wetlands and sedge meadows in the Madison area. Once seed collection is completed this fall, FSC will mail you seed packets of species desired for restorations along Starkweather Creek along with instructions on how to best care for them until the young plants are large enough the following year to be transferred to their new home. Space requirements are also minimal. A little shelf space in an unheated garage or an empty corner in your garden or cold frame and can provide some protection from rodents is all that is necessary. 

Interested? Email the FSC Volunteer Growers Network Coordinator at with your name and mailing address to sign-up.  

This is a great opportunity to study valuable seed growing techniques, learn a new hobby, and give back to our watershed. 

Continuing to steward Starkweather

To our Starkweather volunteer stewards,

In accordance with Madison Parks’ recommended volunteering activities, the Friends of Starkweather Creek Board would like to encourage you to continue to help our watershed. There is still lots of work to be done! 

The following volunteer efforts may be done solo or with members of your immediate household only. Volunteers will need to provide their own supplies, as the Friends of Starkweather Creek Board is not able to disinfect all tools properly in a timely manner or provide guidance on their proper use and safety. 

  1. Garlic Mustard Removal:
    Please see UW-Extension guidance for identification and removal (hand pulling only). The Starkweather Woods will soon be full of this flowering invasive. You can find the Starkweather Woods by walking directly west of the Carpenter-Ridgeway Park (1220 Carpenter Street). Please bag this invasive plant and dispose of the bag in the park trash receptacle. If you do not bag a flowering garlic mustard plant, it will seed out (even if pulled) and continue to spread.
  2. Starkweather Trash Pick-Up:
    The west branch of Starkweather Creek near East Washington Avenue has a particularly heavy litter problem. The Eken Park Neighborhood Association typically has a clean-up here, but this has been cancelled due to mass gathering restrictions. Any help would be greatly appreciated! The area in question starts at 2959 Commercial Avenue and continues south to 2998 Darbo Drive. Per Madison Parks guidance, do not come into direct contact with any trash (wear gloves). Use hand sanitizer when finished if possible and wash your hands when you return home. 

If you have any questions about these activities, please feel free to contact the Friends of Starkweather Creek.

Any help with these activities will be greatly appreciated! Please send us photos of your completed work and we will include them in our newsletter.

Stay well,
Jeff Steele
Friends of Starkweather Creek board member

Starkweather Woods Work day Feb. 15, 10 to 12:30

Please join us for our second work party of the year being held (again) in the beautiful Starkweather Woods adjacent to the Carpenter-Ridgeway Park. We will be picking up where we left off with clearing downed trees from trails as well as cutting and treating invasive buckthorn.

Photos from previous work party here

What to Wear/Bring: Please bring lopers, pruners, or handsaws if you own them. We have a limited supply of these and whatever you can bring will be helpful.

Wear appropriate clothing for the weather (dress in layers). Wear sturdy footwear and work gloves. Bring drinking water. Head, ear and eye protection are recommended. And, most importantly, bring a good attitude—there are few things as cathartic as embracing what can be accomplished in a good work party!

Work Party Leaders:
Jeff Steele & David Pulkowski

*RSVPing is helpful for planning purposes*

Directions to Site: Starkweather Woods is located across the Starkweather Bicycle Trail next to the Carpenter-Ridgeway Park on Madison’s north side. The address of the park is 1120 Carpenter Street and street parking is available along Carpenter Street with access to the park via a sidewalk on the southwest portion of the street.

We will be meeting at the park’s information kiosk. Call 920-382-9773 if you’re lost.