Fall 2020 Parks Update

October 30, 2020

Our Dane County Parks are still very busy. Patrons continue to utilize trails in high numbers enjoying fall days and the vibrant colors. Paddlers and boaters are trying to get in their last days on the area lakes and waterways.

We are in the final stretch of doing a complete overhaul of our ecommerce site. Our goal in November is to be able to take shelter and campsite reservations, sell permits, and schedule events for 2021 using the new program. We’ve been evaluating what our current protocols are going to be next year given that the pandemic health precautions will most likely still be in place. We are trying to help forecast issues and alert our users to help them plan their activities. There is also a new donate feature on the new reservation and permit system, with one of the options being to donate directly to the Foundation.

The Parks Division is in the process of filling two important management positions this Fall. The new Deputy Parks Director position will oversee the daily operations of our growing parks system, including visitor services with direct services to park customers, managing special events and activities, and coordinating facilities maintenance and development projects. We are also hiring to fill our Parks Operations Manager Position, formally filled by long-term employee Dick Black who retired at the end of 2019. The Operations Manager is responsible for maintenance and development projects. The two positions will work together to provide a balance of supervision and engagement for the parks. 

Parks staff have been working closely with volunteers to support the parks through these challenging times. I couldn’t be more proud of our park staff and our amazing volunteers keeping our programs and development project moving forward. 

Seed collection is on pace to again reach record levels of seed for restoration works around the county. The challenges with the pandemic have hampered larger volunteer events supported by our schools and businesses, but many small volunteer group efforts are making up the difference. Staff are now shifting priorities to winterizing facilities and planning for winter recreation on our trails and lakes.

Festge County Park. Photo by Tracy Kapela.

Parks and Trails

  • Indian Lake County Park (Town of Berry): We’ve just finished a wonderful memorial donation project to redo the deteriorating fencing around the historic chapel. Thanks to the Endres families who donated the money in memory of the late Larry Endres of Waunakee, Wisconsin and Urban J. Endres of Muenster, Texas, great-grandsons of Johann (John) Endres who built the chapel in 1857. Dean Allen Studios of Lodi designed and constructed the new fence. Staff have also been working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Friends group to complete the trapping of young carp in Indian Lake. They have been setting spring nets and baiting the site to bring carp into the target site. So far they have removed about 4,000 young carp. This effort should help springboard the game and pan fish population.
Indian Lake County Park chapel fence
Chapel fence sign
  • Pheasant Branch Conservancy (Town of Springfield): We have completed the major deconstruction work on the former 160-acre property (former Acker Farm) that will soon become a part of the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Recent work included crushing all the piles of concrete that were recycled to create a future parking lot. Fall work will incorporate stormwater management practices, wetland scrapes, trail development, and planting of upland prairies. The prairie planting will be phased in over a four year period.
  • Schumacher Farm County Park (Village of Waunakee): We are in the final stages working with the Friends group to complete the landscaping for the Center for Rural History. 
  • W.G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park (City of Madison): The campground and the Lussier Family Heritage Center are going solar. Final work is moving forward to install solar panels on the facility roofs, including two new shelters specifically designed as solar energy collectors. Interpretive information and vehicle charging stations will also be added as part of this county initiative. 
  • McCarthy Youth and Conservation County Park (Village of Cottage Grove): We are working with the Friends group on the plans and specification design of a new post and beam shelter, playground, and use area at the park entrance.
  • Anderson Farm County Park (Town of Oregon): Significant progress is being made on the new 40-acre dog park (set to open in 2021), including parking lots, stormwater structures, rain gardens planted by the Friends group and other volunteers, and a new bike/pedestrian trail connecting the dog park to the Village of Oregon. 
  • Token Creek County Park (Village of DeForest): The 30-year-old Sedge Meadow boardwalk trail located along Token Creek will be replaced this winter. The trail is ADA accessible and about 1,550 feet in length.  
  • Capital City State Trail (City of Fitchburg): Phase 3 of the Capital City State Trail Restoration Project was completed in October. The project area was from Seminole Highway through Fitchburg’s Dawley Park and improved drainage issues and installed new asphalt.
  • Lower Yahara River Trail (Town of Pleasant Springs): We are working on the final plans and virtual public input process for the extension from Fish Camp County Park to Lake Kegonsa State Park. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi included $6.5 million for the construction of the second phase of the trail in the 2021 budget.

Accessible Piers

  • Salmo Pond County Park (Town of Berry): The accessible fishing pier was installed in September 2020. An accessible vault toilet, paths, and picnic tables are scheduled to be installed in Spring 2021. The Dane County Parks Commission and County Board are working through the process to formally recognize this pier as the Dan Wisniewski Accessible Pier. Look for a complete write up of the dedication, photos of the upgrades to the site, and Dan's many accomplishments in 2021. 
Salmo Pond Pier. Photo by Samantha Haas.
  • Fish Camp County Park (Town of Dunn): The concept plans for an accessible kayak landing, kayak access ramp, fishing piers, and mooring dock were completed. We anticipate completion of the survey and bid documents for the accessible kayak landing to be completed by early 2021 with a spring installation. Remaining accessible improvements are anticipated to be coordinated with the Phase 2 Lower Yahara River Trail construction in 2022.
  • Babcock County Park (Village of McFarland): The boat launch improvements include a concept plan and construction drawings anticipated to be finalized by Spring 2021. Construction is contingent upon the timing of the planned Phase 2 of the Yahara dredging project.
  • Tenney Breakwall (City of Madison): Accessibility improvements were completed to breakwall walkways in Summer 2020. Planning will soon be underway for additional improvements in 2021.
Published on
October 30, 2020

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