All posts by Theresa Vanderwoude

Continuing to steward Starkweather – Jeff Steele

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

Life beneath the Snow – Paul Noedler

About 15 people joined Master Naturalist Paul Noeldner in February to learn about “life beneath the snow” as part of a FUN Bird & Nature Outing. 

The crisp winter walk from Goodman Community Center along the bike path to Starkweather Creek revealed a variety of winter birds, squirrels, tracks and tunnels in the snow where critters take shelter and find their animal ‘grocery stores’ of plant seeds, tree buds, bark, buried nuts and other food caches to survive the winter. 

Taking a route through Olbrich Gardens provided an opportunity to enjoy a campfire and look for willow buds and other winter phenology in the trees and bushes. The group very much appreciated the indoor space provided by outing co-sponsor Goodman Community Center to meet, look at the insulating properties of fur and feathers, and warm up before and after the outing.

Current health crisis advisories are keeping us indoors a lot. One thing that health officials are advising for improving both mental and physical health is spending time outdoors in nature!

By keeping a recommended 6 foot safe social distance you can enjoy some nature and sunshine and enjoy contacts with friends on a walk. The birds are singing and soon the frogs will be calling and leaves will be budding on trees. A walk in nature is great for physical health. Seeing nature do its thing is great for lifting spirits and a sense of well being!

This health crisis is helping us understand just how important little things like time in nature are for all of us. Especially in urban areas we need nearby nature to enjoy! The birds and animals and pollinators all need these natural areas too.

– Paul Noedler, Friends of Starkweather Creek board member

Stewardship update – Lance Green

As spring unfolds amidst our own health concerns, we’re excited to tell you about some efforts to help our creek’s health.

Across the state, the threat of increasing chloride concentrations in surface and ground waters is growing. Under a DNR grant, the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission is conducting a Chloride Management Plan for the creek’s watershed. This pilot study will quantify chloride entering and leaving the watershed and develop practices to reduce chloride loads in addition to current WI Salt Wise Partnership efforts. Partners in the study include Madison City Engineering, Public Health and Sewage District, area businesses and our Friends group. Contact Board member Lance Green for more information.

Board member Jeff Steele is working with City Engineering to restore native plants in an area near Commercial Avenue. The City will help prepare the area and supply hundreds of plant plugs for volunteers to plant and maintain. Watch for our announcement for when you can come and help!

As you’ve heard, Starkweather’s West Branch is seriously contaminated with PFAS chemicals that are continually leaching from Truax field. These hazardous chemicals were sprayed on grounds near the Creek during many years of testing fire-fighting foams containing PFAS. The DNR is working with the airport, City, County and Air National Guard to characterize the locations and amounts of contamination and develop plans to reduce and hopefully eliminate this contamination. We are closely monitoring these efforts and hope to report on progress soon.

Although we aren’t holding our annual Earth Day spring clean-up, we encourage you to bring a trash bag as you paddle and explore areas along the creek. We can all take pride in our watershed as we clean up in celebration of the 50th Earth Day!

– Lance Green, Friends of Starkweather Creek board member and stewardship committee member

April message

Dear Friends,

Pictured above is the first Starkweather Creek work day of 2020. Brave volunteers cleared pathways and remove invasive brush in the beautiful woods along Starkweather’s west branch by the Carpenter-Ridgeway neighborhood in January and February.

Since those days, we’ve had to adjust the ways we operate as a group to allow for social distancing. Our board meetings are occurring over the phone, and we are relying on email and social media to communicate about the creek. ome groups you could follow: Friends of Starkweather CreekFriends of Hartmeyer Natural AreaSave Voit FarmFriends of Acewood Conservation Park.

We think that time outdoors is more important than ever. While we will have to reschedule our outdoors events in the coming weeks, we invite you to take a self-guided walk along the Starkweather Creek bike path.

Even better, since our usual spring clean up is postponed, consider picking up a bag of trash near Starkweather Creek on your own or as a family in honor of the upcoming 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.