Friends of Starkweather Creek

Trickle Newsletter Winter: 2017

Welcome to the Winter 2017 edition of our Friends of Starkweather Creek Newsletter.  We had a great fall on the creek with canoe tours, a bike tour, and our Annual Meeting on October 27th at the Goodman Center. At the meeting we elected new board members -- Paul Noeldner, Deborah Crabtree, and Theresa Vander Woude.  Welcome to our new board members! We also re-elected Sean Gere, Carl Landsness, Dea Larsen Converse, Lance Green, Dave Pulkowski, and Dane Wudel.  We are excited to come together and make good things happen for the creek!

 Don't forget to post pictures of your creek adventures on our facebook page!  Hope to see you out there.

Goodman Center Camp

by Deborah Crabtree

Students from the Goodman Community Center's 2016 summer camp program spent an adventurous summer exploring Starkweather Creek Watershed as part of the Watershed Wanders and Wonders collaboration with Friends of Starkweather Creek. From climbing trees with a certified arborist to canoeing the creek, students discovered the beauty of this special urban treasure and encountered the perfect classroom. Youth experienced the wonder of nature and realized the responsibility we have to care for our Earth and precious natural resources.

To commemorate our summer together, students painted a "Healing Power of Nature" mural along the Capital City Bike trail at the intersection of Corry Street and Saint Paul Avenue. 


Expanding upon our successes over the years, FSC and Goodman partnered to introduce a school year component this year. In early October, student gardeners and volunteers planted nearly 600 native plants on Goodman property donated to us from the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. Most students were first-time gardeners and excited to get their hands (and faces!) dirty.

The sheer joy on their faces as they discovered pill bugs and worms while planting was a sight to see. This project will continue throughout the school year as students care for the plants and monitor their growth. Students from Goodman presented about their adventures with FSC at the annual meeting on October 27. 


Testing the Waters of the Creek

by Laura Rozumalski

FreshWater Engineering received a grant from City of Madison Engineering and to sample and analyze the current water quality conditions in Starkweather Creek.  The results of the study compare to the results of a 2005 study performed by the UW-Madison Water Resources Management Practicum.  The 2005 samples had found toxicity levels of concern near the airport and the golf course. Semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) were used for the sampling efforts. The monitoring devices were placed at 8 locations throughout the watershed from May 16 to June 14, 2016.  These testing devices mimic fish tissue by accumulating hydrophobic organic compounds from the water column, which is a more specific sampling method than what is typically done for water quality tests.  

Typical water quality monitoring includes parameters such as temperature, pH, specific conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, and E. coli.  This information is very useful, but does not provide data about harmful chemical toxins that may be affecting the biota in the waterbody.  For this study, FreshWater Engineering investigated which chemicals are present that bioaccumulate in the food chain and affect the ecosystem.  Specifically, the organic contaminants in question are those that accumulate in an organism’s tissue and result in chronic problems such as reproductive disorders, muscular and neurological abnormalities, immune deficiencies, and genetic defects. A draft final report is available on the Friends of Starkweather Creek website.  For more information, you can contact Friends of Starkweather Creek at or Laura Rozumalski, P.E., President, FreshWater Engineering

Friends of Starkweather Creek Annual Meeting

by Dea Larsen Converse

On October 27th, the Friends of Starkweather Creek held our annual meeting at the Goodman Center.  We presented a slideshow of our tours and activities. Here's a list of achievements from the year:
  • Two spring creek cleanups
  • A spring tree walk 
  • Helped with the summer solstice
  • Education table at Atwood Fest
  • Arranged tours for the Earth Partnership for Schools - Carpenter-Ridgeway Park, canoe tour, east detention pond, Lowell Elementary, Olbrich Gardens
  • Led outings for the Goodman Summer Camp - including creek monitoring, painting a mural, bike tour, fall planting with plants from Dane County
  • A bird and nature walk with Madison FUN 
  • Fall canoe tours
  • Connected the Carpenter Ridgeway Neighborhood Association with a restoration project in their neighborhood
  • Water Quality modeling by FreshWater Engineering
  • Volunteer monitoring on the creek

We also heard from Claire Olekslak, Community Services Manager, City of Madison Parks Division and Paul Noeldner, Madison Friends of Urban Nature (FUN).

You can view the presentation on our webpage

Friends of
Starkweather Creek

2017 Calendar of Events



Sat 18th, 10-11:30am - Bird and Nature Outing at Starkweather Creek - 149 Waubesa Street, Madison, meet at the Goodman Community Center.  Naturalist Alex Singer will lead a family friendly walk to hidden natural areas along Starkweather Creek in the heart of Madison's east side.   Along the way you will learn about the water cycle and some of the ways water quality is tested.


18th, 7-8 pm, Board Meeting, Goodman Center
29th, 9 am to noon. Creek cleanup.


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


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


15th:   Goodman kids help with our monthly monitoring on the West Branch
18th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center

30-31:  Atwood Fest tabling 


15th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center


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


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


14th: Canoe Tour.  Meet at the Olbrich Boat launch nearest the Thai Pavillion at 9 am.
17th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center 
19th:  Annual Meeting, 7-8:30 pm, Goodman Center, Teen Center


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


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

Be Salt Wise!

Author: Wisconsin Salt Wise Partnership 

The WI Salt Wise Partnership is urging homeowners, municipalities, and private contractors to make a commitment to reduce salt use this winter. Using excess salt doesn't make your sidewalks safer — it harms plants and animals, pollutes our water, damages buildings and corrodes vehicles, roads and bridges. Once you put salt down, it doesn’t go away. Instead, it travels into our lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, putting our aquatic life at risk and endangering our freshwater resources. Salt also alters the composition of soil, slows plant growth and weakens the concrete, brick and stone that make up our homes, garages, bridges, and roads. 

According to a recent report from Public Health Madison Dane County, nearly 30,000 tons of salt were spread on Madison and Dane Co. roads during the winter of 2014-15, and that doesn't include what was spread on parking lots, sidewalks and driveways. That is enough to pollute over 23 billion gallons of water. There is a way to cut down on salt use and keep our roads, parking lots and driveways safe: Use only what you need — and that’s less than you might think! 

Believe it or not, just a coffee mug of salt is enough to treat an entire 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares. The scatter pattern should look like the image on the (below). 

Other things you can do to reduce salt and protect water include: 

Shovel: Clear walkways and other areas before the snow turns to ice. The more snow you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it will be. 

Switch: When pavement temps drop below 15, salt won’t work. Switch to sand for traction or a different ice melter that works in lower temperatures. 

Hire a salt wise applicator: If you hire a contractor to remove snow and ice, let them know you are WI Salt Wise! Some local applicators have been trained in winter maintenance practices that reduce environmental impacts. Ask potential contractors if they’ve been trained and use practices that reduce salt use such as pretreating with brine or pre-wetting salt. 

Look for proper salt use at the stores & businesses you visit. If they’re using the right amount of salt, thank them! If not, let them know about WI Salt Wise. 

Love the lines: The stripes on the roadway before a storm are anti-icing, they show that your professional maintenance crew is concerned about your safety and is saving money, time and protecting our environment! 

Be Salt Wise all year! The salt you put in your water softener ends up in local freshwater streams. New, efficient softeners use less than one bag per month. If you’re using more – have a professional tune yours up – or, replace it with a high-efficiency model. 


Friends of Starkweather Creek is a WI Salt Wise partner organization! We are educating watershed residents about salt impacts on water resources and teach them salt reduction techniques. We are also asking local area businesses to post the Shovel, Scatter, Switch message in their stores.

Do your part to help out our community and local water resources. Be Wisconsin Salt Wise! Find out more at 


Thank you for your support

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting our work to revitalize Starkweather Creek by participating in our canoe tours and creek cleanups, by lending your expertise, and, especially, with your membership.  If you have not yet had a chance, please take a moment now at to renew your membership and consider making a donation to help us continue our work. 
Please make checks out to Friends of Starkweather Creek and mail to Friends of Starkweather Creek, Post Office Box 8442, Madison, WI 53708-8442 or contribute via our webpage at
Copyright © 2017 Friends of Starkweather Creek, All rights reserved.

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