by Desteny Alvarez, age 16
Regular readers of Simpson Street Free Press know we are big fans of Indian Lake County Park. This is one of the largest and most popular parks in the Dane County system. And now you can support this wonderful place, visit the park during beautiful fall weather, and have fun all at the same time.
The Friends of Indian Lake will host their annual “Trail Run at Indian Lake” event on Saturday, October 2. While last fall’s run was held virtually, this year’s event marks a return to in-person running. Organizers are being careful to follow all public health guidelines as they plan for the event.
Funds raised from this year’s event will go to support the Friends of Indian Lake and will be used for habitat restoration, trail maintenance, and infrastructure improvements. Those who want to participate can choose to run or walk a 7K course, or a longer 12K course. Depending on public health updates, a free kids run is also planned.
by Jules Da Costa, age 13
Have you ever heard of Prairie Moraine County Park? This park is a great place to enjoy beautiful scenery or simply take a walk. Prairie Moraine County Park is also known for having one of the best local dog parks and for its easy access to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Prairie Moraine County Park is a 160-acre park. This park offers the chance to encounter Wisconsin's glacial history. Various ecosystems and habitats are evident in the park. Prairies and oak savannahs are easy for visitors to see. Because of interesting signage along the trails, visitors can also learn about the history of these ecosystems and see examples of restored ecosystems.
by Desteny Alvarez, age 16
The historic Matz Farmhouse is located in the Halfway Prairie Wildlife Area, across the road from Indian Lake County Park in the Town of Berry in Dane County. A visit to Indian Lake County Park isn’t complete without stopping to view this landmark. History comes alive here and it’s easy to imagine what life was like for the pioneer homesteaders who settled in the area during the 1850s and 1860s.
Friedrich Matz, an immigrant from Germany, established the family farm at this site in 1852. Near the ruins of the farmhouse is a stone barn, which is in much better shape than the house itself. This structure looked to us like it would last a long time. The barn, like the house, was built by hand using local stone.
Dane County’s Indian Lake County Park and the Matz Farmhouse ruins are located on Wisconsin Highway 19, about two miles west of Highway 12. When visiting, we suggest taking time to read the historical marker located here. Across the road from these fascinating stone remnants are the main areas of Indian Lake County Park, which offer facilities and amenities for visitors.
by Alan Cruz, age 17
On a recent summer evening, Simpson Street Free Press student reporters headed just south of Madison toward Oregon and Anderson Farm County Park. Pollinator gardens and the unveiling of public art attracted our attention to the park because we’ve been writing about those subjects this summer.
Established in 2014, Anderson Farm County Park is the newest park in the Dane County Parks system. At 310 acres, this is also one of our bigger parks. Anderson Farm Park is a mix of woodlands, agricultural fields, and a small prairie that was started in 2016. While the park is still being developed, new projects and new features are shaping up throughout this park.
We got to the park in time to see the unveiling of a new sculpture, which is located near the Union Road picnic area parking lot alongside the bike path. The sculpture honors the legacy of Gary Kalscheur, a long-time youth baseball coach and strong supporter of Anderson Farm County Park during its early days.
by Alan Cruz, age 17
The purchase of a 465-megawatt solar and storage plant for Dane County is being considered by three Wisconsin utilities. Recently, Invenergy, a Chicago-based power company, submitted an application for a permit to build a 2,400-acre project in the villages of Christiana and Deerfield, Wisconsin. The companies hope to start power generation by the end of 2024, if the application is successful. Construction on the project, known as Koshkonong Solar, would start next year.
In late April of this year, three Wisconsin utilities -- Madison Gas and Electric, We Energies, and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. -- confirmed their interest in purchasing the solar-storage plant. However, the three companies are waiting to make a final decision about the purchase because Invenergy did not include a final price of the project in their application. The utilities must demonstrate that the service is necessary, and that its value would meet or exceed its cost.
Koshkonong Solar is a similar effort to others around the world that seek to limit the harmful effects of climate change by reducing the reliance on fossil fuels. WEC Energy Group would own approximately 90 percent of the project, splitting its ownership with We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Corp., while MGE would own the remaining 10 percent. This was agreed upon when they filed a joint application to buy the Paris Solar Battery Pack in early February of 2021. These same companies have aimed to purchase a 310-megawatt solar and storage project in Kenosha County as part of their aspirations to replace coal-fired electricity in the county. WEC has its goals set on reducing its carbon dioxide emissions 70 percent by the year 2030, as outlined in its 2020 proposal to invest over $2 billion in renewable energy and battery projects over the next decade. With these plans in mind, WEC is looking to eliminate 1,800 megawatts of their fossil fuel capacity.
by Josepha Da Costa, age 16
Looking for fun activities to do this summer? The Lussier Family Heritage Center may have just what you are looking for!
Located just 10 minutes south of downtown Madison in William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park, the center provides outdoor and environmental learning experiences for children and adults alike. It contains a native prairie, freshwater marsh, and oak savanna habitats. These scenic settings provide the backdrop for programs for the public such as Outdoor Storytelling, Kids Fishing, and Yoga in the Park. They also do special events like weddings.
Upcoming events include Monday Morning Summer Walk on 6/28, Kids Bike Adventure on 6/30, and Movies in the Park - Disney Nature Earth on 7/1. The center is easily accessible from the Lower Yahara River and the Capital City State trails. To read more about the Lussier Family Heritage Center and its events, visit the center’s website: LussierHeritageCenter.com.
by Darius Smith, age 14
Are you interested in helping the local environment and learning more about native plant species in Wisconsin? If so, the Dane County Land and Resources Department has a fun and educational opportunity for you.
Every year the Land and Water Resources Department provides free native plants to schools and community groups in Dane County. This program has distributed more than 17,000 plants to almost 100 different organizations since the program was launched in 2016. The plants are available each year in the summer and fall.
Native plants provide important habitat and food sources for pollinators and other wildlife. The primary pollinators in Wisconsin are insects such as bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, and beetles. Hummingbirds are also considered effective pollinators. Bees are the most important pollinators for many plant species in our state, and they feed almost exclusively on pollen and nectar.
by Gabriella Shell, age 14
Recent tests have revealed extremely high levels of dangerous contaminants called PFAS in the groundwater near former firefighting training grounds at the Dane County Regional Airport.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends no more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS in drinking water, an environmental contractor hired by the Dane County Airport found an excess of 68,000 ppt in groundwater at a site along Darwin Road. Another site, near Pearson Street, had PFAS levels over 20,000 ppt.
These two sites were used as firefighter training grounds in the 1950s through the 1980s, and are known as “burn pits.” The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources attributed the contamination at these sites to Dane County, the City of Madison, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
by Alan Cruz, age 16
During the next few weeks, Dane County Parks staff will watch park facilities closely. Winter-spring transitions can lead to damage in county parks. Warm temperatures and rain pull frost from the earth during the spring thaw. This causes trails, dog-parks, and grassy areas to get muddy and soft.
A recent press release warns park guests that some county parks or sections of parks might be temporarily shut down over the next few weeks.
Due to the closure of these parks and facilities, County staff requests that park visitors to remain on hard paths and roads. Understanding the value of outdoor recreational spaces for the community, staff wants people to know that “the spring thaw period combined with high use can have long-term impacts, especially on hiking trails.”
by Josepha Da Costa, age 15
Recently, Dane County Board adopted a resolution that expands Indian Lake County Park. The resolution authorizes the purchase of 295 acres of land, which will be added to the park. This expansion makes Indian Lake County Park one of the biggest parks in Dane County.
“Indian Lake County Park is one of Dane County’s most popular parks, and it has seen even more visitors this year as a result of more people heading outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive, Joe Parisi, who signed the resolution. “This purchase will allow Dane County to enhance the park’s year-round outdoor offerings and make it the largest recreational park in our system.”
With the new purchase the park now spans 800 acres of land. During the pandemic, there has been an increase in visitors to the well-known park. The Indian Lake County park offers areas for activities like fishing and picnicking, also including a dog park.
by Gabriella Shell, age 14
Madison was ranked 64th least sustainable out of 100 big cities by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Two companies with bases in Madison, Xcel Energy and Alliant Energy, are seeking to change that ranking by investing in solar farms.
Xcel Energy is spending $100 million to develop a 1,100 acre solar plant in Pierce County, which will be the largest solar plant in the state once complete. Similarly, Alliant Energy plans on buying two solar farms which together will have 115 megawatts of capacity.
by Desteny Alvarez, age 15
Donald Park is a beautiful park that has many features. But perhaps the most stunning and eye-catching is the big rock across the road from the park. It is named Donald Rock, also known as Preacher’s Cap, and has been there for 450 million years.
We went to see this so-called “Rock” and found out it looks more like a small mountain than just a rock.
Donald County Park is a 775-acre park located in the Town of Springdale, southeast of Mt. Horeb. The park contains many oak woods and is known for its equestrian and hiking trails. The park is also known for three pristine trout streams: Deer Creek, Mt. Vernon Creek, and Frye Feeder.
by Mariama Bah, age 13
Cherokee Marsh is home to a variety of flora and fauna that thrive in this unique and significant ecosystem. The marsh is also a very important part of Dane County’s natural environment.
Trees are especially scarce in marshes. Instead, these wetlands boast an abundance of herbaceous plants. Common plants at Cherokee Marsh include cattails, sago pondweed, and hard stem bulrush. This site also supports several rare plant species such as glade mallow, white ladyslipper, and tufted bulrush. Many mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians live in the marsh.
The animals and plants that thrive in Cherokee Marsh are a part of a precise and very special ecosystem. There are some invasive species, however, that threaten the native species at the Cherokee Marsh site. The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department (LWRD) has taken efforts to remove carp, which cause destruction by uprooting the aquatic plants and sediment.
by Moises A. Hernandez, age 15
On August 31, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) finalized new rules that restrict the use of firefighting foam containing substances known to cause cancer. Under these rules, such firefighting foam may only be used in an emergency. Notably, the new rules prohibit use for training, which has been a significant source of environmental contamination at sites like the Dane County Airport.
The chemicals in question, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals.” This is due to the fact that these substances hardly break down in the environment. Beyond their longevity, PFAS exposure can increase the risk of bodily disorders and chronic diseases like cancer. PFAS are found in firefighting foam and tools we use every day, including food packaging and non-stick cookware. Due to their danger, Wisconsin has now started to limit the effect of these chemicals in our environment by restricting their use, and monitoring their spread.
"What the rulemaking is intended to do is clarify record-keeping requirements if a facility does possess that foam," said Kate Strom Hiorns, the DNR’s solid waste sections chief. "It will include requirements to notify DNR when PFAS-containing foam is discharged to the environment so proper cleanup measures can be implemented, and it will include appropriate containment treatment and disposal guidelines intended to keep PFAS compounds out of the environment." This means that the fire departments will have to work with the government to monitor any release of PFAS in the future.
by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 15
Donald Park in the southern part of Dane County is one of the most beloved natural areas in Wisconsin. But this beautiful place wouldn't be possible without the help of two visionary women, who not only donated the land but worked tirelessly to make it available to the public.
The women established the 800-acre park in 1993. It is not just a fun place to enjoy outdoor activities, but it also holds a lot of history and memories. Some ancient artifacts dated back 13,000 years ago, have been located at Donald Park.
Delma Donald Woodburn contributed the most land that eventually became Donald County Park. Born in 1899, she spent most of her childhood living with her grandparents on their farm. Her family said she was a tomboy, who enjoyed activities like playing outside and spending time in nature. Delma’s household was politically active. Her father played many roles in government in his lifetime, and her mother participated in progressive causes. In 1920, she voted in the first election that permitted women to participate.
by Makya Rodriguez, age 15
Many of us enjoy the local lakes here in Madison. But what people might not know is that our lakes are being invaded.
Zebra mussels are D-shaped mussels that can grow up to two inches in length. They usually have yellow and brown shells with stripes. This invasive species was first discovered in the Madison lakes in 2015 by a class of University of Wisconsin students, although evidence suggests the mussels were present in Lake Mendota as early as 2012. Since that time, zebra mussels have spread to other area lakes including Monona, Wingra, and Waubesa.
These invasive freshwater animals now live in about 250 of Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers, according to the Department of Natural Resources. They arrived in North America as microscopic larvae traveling from Europe or Asia in the ballast water of ships and have since spread through the Great Lakes and various connected water systems.
by Jules DaCosta, age 12
Do want to learn more about how seeds travel and at the same time help restore natural areas in our beautiful Dane County Parks?
Well, you can have that opportunity this fall at Festge Park, which is located just a few miles west of Middleton on highway 14. Fall is great time of year to be outdoors in Wisconsin with all the fall colors. It’s also when seeds start to ripen and prairie landscapes repopulate themselves. Volunteers and Dane County Parks staff will help this process along during two seed collection days at Festge Park in September.
The event dates are September 4 and September 23 from 9am until 12 noon. Volunteers will meet at the park and collect seeds that will be used at various parks throughout Dane County. No prior experience is necessary. But park staff suggest volunteers wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and bring some drinking water. Close-toed shoes and work gloves are also recommended. Because it’s in a park, it will be easy to social distance, but it is a good idea to bring a mask.
by Christy Zheng, age 17
Four years. Five phases. Six sites. That’s the scope of the $10-15 million Yahara River Sediment Removal Project, part of Dane County’s ongoing flood mitigation effort. It is an ambitious project that aims to cut in half the amount of time it takes for water to travel through the Yahara watershed.
Inefficient movement of water through the Yahara River and its watershed heightened the flooding in 2018— resulting in one casualty and approximately $209 million in damages.
One major reason for the slow flow of water was, and is, sediment buildup. Large sediment deposits hinder the movement of water by creating friction between the water and sediment, and can also raise riverbeds, decreasing flood water storage capacity. Though sediment accumulation is a natural consequence of erosion, this natural process has been exacerbated by urbanization in Madison and Dane County.
by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 15
There is a fascinating and ongoing story happening in Madison’s northside. It is a story rich with mystery and local history, and it’s a story you can explore for yourself. Legend has it that Lake View Hill County Park is haunted by spirits. The forest and graveyard behind the Lakeview Lutheran Church next to the park are the site of the most suspicious activity, even though the park was the location of an old hospital. Some say the site is haunted because before the building was built the land was sacred to Native Americans.
As local legend has it, people who visit the area often connect with the dead as they walk through these ancient grounds. People who visit the woods come out with stories of what seems like paranormal activity. These strange occurrences include cold spots, awkward mist in some places, and sometimes they report a feeling of something grabbing them. Despite the rumors swirling around about the haunted forest, Lake View Hill County Park is also known for another thing. A sanatorium was built on the site in 1930. This sanatorium was made to accommodate tuberculosis patients since there was no cure for tuberculosis at the time.
Tuberculosis is a lung disease that affects breathing. In the 19th century Tuberculosis was located everywhere around the world and was considered a pandemic. Much like our current pandemic, everyone was concerned about contracting the disease. There was no vaccine to combat tuberculosis until 1921. The sanatorium at Lake View Hill County Park was home to up to 100 patients.
by Jules Da Costa, age 12
Dane County Parks staff and dedicated volunteers have been working hard to restore the natural landscape at Indian Lake County Park. This effort has improved and enhanced what is certainly one of the most beautiful spots in southern Wisconsin.
Dane County’s gorgeous Indian Lake County Park has benefitted over the years from scores of committed volunteers. They have removed less desirable plant and tree species to provide more room for native species to grow and thrive. And, of course, more room for members of the public to enjoy this wonderful place. Just a short drive from Madison, visitors will notice some of the results of this conservation work as soon as they enter the main parking area.
According to the Dane County Parks Department, there was a time when Oak Savanna was one of the most common vegetation types in the upper Midwest. But it is now one of the rarest natural communities on Planet Earth. Today’s visitors will notice about four acres of natural Oak Savanna landscape from the parking lot just beyond the park shelter.
by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 15
Prairie Moraine County Park is a park in Verona known for its popular off-leash dog park and its mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The dog park offers an opportunity for dogs to let out their natural instincts and run around freely with nothing restraining them. “Prairie Moraine Friends” is an organization currently made of 65 members with the end goal of making more areas within the park accessible for dogs to exercise freely and have fun in. For the dog parks, a dog permit is required.
Prairie Moraine County Park also attracts hikers. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail on the park grounds spans a mile. It takes its shape following a ridge of debris, the Johnstown Moraine, left on the ground after a glacier retreated during the end of the Ice Age. The moraine is known as one of the highest elevation points in Dane County, which prompted the building of a 9-1-1 communications tower in the 1990s.
Rumour has it that between 1897 and 1902 there was a leper colony on the grounds of the park as well. As a group of friends were walking through the park one day, they stumbled upon a pile of rocks that distinctly resembled a housing platform. The archeologists studying the area said that people who were diagnosed with leprosy were kept in Dane County “hospitals” located in the area. The hospitals, though, served as insane asylums for these patients and provided isolation and poor farming. The remaining housing platforms can be easily spotted along the trail. While the ruins are interesting to inspect, the park community requests that visitors refrain from touching or disturbing the site.
by Desteny Alvarez, age 15
The Tenney Park Lock and Dam is located on the eastern shore of Lake Mendota along Sherman Avenue. It is between the City of Madison’s Filene Park and Tenney Beach. It is the largest of three boat locks on the Yahara River.
The first dam near this location was built in 1847 as a mill and brewery. It was subsequently destroyed in 1866 by a severe thunderstorm. The city bought the current site in 1896 and also made the first lock. They remodeled the lock to allow shallow drafting boats to move between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona through a channel of the Yahara River.
Years later, in 1958, the locks and the dam were rebuilt to provide safety improvements and better navigational access between Madison’s two largest lakes. These improvements helped control the water levels of both lakes.
by Desteny Alvarez, age 15
Dane County is testing a new technology designed to clean out algae blooms local lakes. Strange as it might sound, this new technology actually uses a vacuum to remove hazardous blue-green algae blooms located near Dane County’s beaches.
Blue-green algae blooms are harmful to people. Exposure to this kind of algae can cause health concerns for both humans and pets. This new effort intends to make our local beaches clean and safe to swim in during warm temperatures.
This vacuum device cleans our local waters by connecting a pipe to a vacuum nozzle, which pulls out the algae scum from the water and puts it in filter bags. It then separates the clean water from the algae scum and releases the clean water back into the lake. Meanwhile, the algae scum and debris stay inside the filter bags.
by Alan Cruz, age 15
Dane County officials recently announced an important new land purchase in the Town of Verona. This will be the county’s largest conservation land purchase of 2020. The 160-acre acquisition adds to several other wildlife areas and natural resource areas near the Sugar River in southern Dane County.
This new purchase includes the confluence of Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River, which is located at the southern part of the property. The area where these two streams come together (a confluence) is considered important to the ongoing conservation efforts in this part of Dane County. The property, and the various adjoining areas, includes fragile wetlands and other natural habitat for fish and wildlife species.
by Christy Zheng, age 17
In August of 2018, the chain of lakes connected by the Yahara River had remained above target summer maximum levels—the appropriate lake levels set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—for four months, despite efforts to eliminate blockages in the system. Heavy rainfall on August 21 threatened to push the lakes over the edge. The city of Madison closed major thoroughfares as the water rushed in, damaging homes, businesses, and public infrastructure. First responders worked all night, evacuating residents from flooded homes and rescuing stranded motorists. In the aftermath of the flooding, there was one casualty and an estimated $209 million in damages— the majority of which was not covered by insurance. While the cause of the flooding is an environmental quagmire, it boils down to this: inefficient movement of water through the Yahara Watershed and torrential rainfalls were the impetus for the catastrophe.
The Yahara Watershed does not naturally lend itself to a fast flow. The river drops a mere 1.5 feet over four miles; it’s flat, so the water moves slowly. However, several other factors exacerbate the slow movement of water, including aquatic plants, sediment, and debris. A task force on flood mitigation was created after the 2018 flooding to pose solutions for these flow restrictors, with input from the public. Flood mitigation efforts were ongoing before the flooding, and the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department (LWRD) has amped up its efforts since, at the recommendation of the task force.
by Kadjata Bah, age 15
There is no denying the importance of the arts in our city, with murals lining streets and buildings, art fairs, museums, and the artists that make it all possible. Two of those artists, Sachi and Laura Komai, can be found at their paper and craft shop, Anthology.
Founded in 2008, Anthology is a space created to facilitate creativity and invite people to explore what creativity means to them. Both Laura and Sachi are artists themselves.
The Komai sisters drew from their love of paper and writing to put together their shop. Anthology also features the work of over 100 local artists. Along with artwork, cards, stickers, and other paper goods, the sisters sell arts and crafts supplies. Customers are encouraged to use Anthology’s second floor creative space to express themselves. Laura points out, “So much of our lives are digital now and we’re just looking at screens all the time. I think a part of us really craves putting a pencil on paper and making a mark.”
by Devika Pal, age 14
There is much to see in Dane County. Excellent museums, beautiful scenery, the state Capitol building, and the UW-Madison campus. In addition to its beautiful natural landscape, Madison has a rich and fascinating cultural landscape. We even have storm drains decorated with art.
While walking around downtown Madison or riding on a local bike path, you may have stopped to look at one of the many storm drain murals painted across the county. These interesting works of art are the result of a partnership between Dane County Land and Water Resources Department, the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater partnership and Dane Arts Mural Arts.
This local artwork is more than just pretty, it has a purpose.
by Leila Fletcher, age 17
Most of us consume plenty of good food on Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, Dane County has the perfect balance for all the calories. At the annual Berbee Derby, we can all get some good exercise Thanksgiving morning, and then enjoy the rest of the day with family and friends.
The 16th annual Thanksgiving Day Berbee Derby features a 5K Run/Walk and a 10K run. Our community benefits because 100% of Derby proceeds go to the Technology Education Foundation (TEF). These funds, over $1,600,000 since the Derby's inception, have supported dozens of innovative projects, and are used to help schools and non-profit organizations close the technology gap so prevalent in under-served populations of all ages.
After 16 successful years, the Berbee Derby is a cherished local tradition. It is a well-organized race with a certified 5K and 10K course. And this year’s event promises some special surprises along the way!
by Virginia Quach
With climate changing causing major shifts in weather behavior and ecosystem conditions, a focus in urban cities concerns the development of “green infrastructure” to tackle urban flooding and runoff into streams and lakes.
The city of Madison is offering to fund a rainwater collection features as part of a $290,000 study aiming to evaluate infrastructure used to gather and redirect rainwater. In a West Side neighborhood near Westmorland Park, Madison is offering up to $1,000 to homeowners if they install features such as rain gardens and porous pavement that prevent water from entering storm sewers.
In areas with greater natural coverage such as trees and grass, around 50% of rainfall reenters the earth, 10% goes as runoff, and the remainder evaporates. In contrast, in compact urban spaces, over 50% of rainfall goes as runoff. This runoff puts stress on environmental networks to absorb and appropriately drain the water, and recent years have shown the consequences as streets frequently flood.
by Michelle Chi, age 16
Tensions are rising as lawmakers, environmentalists, local residents and sponsoring companies continue to debate plans for the new Cardinal-Hickory-Creek transmission line. Although project advocates boast the proposed project will provide low-cost and renewable energy, the line poses potential health risks for residents of southern Wisconsin and threatens the surrounding environment.
Grassroots opposition to the project is strong. Many local groups including the Mount Horeb Area School District opposes the plan.
The 345-kilovolt line, which is funded by the American Transmission Co. (ATC), ITC Midwest, and Dairyland Power Cooperative, is expected to run approximately 125 miles between Madison and Iowa and cost an estimated $500 million. Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line is an extension of the 245-kilovolt Badger Coulee transmission line. Proponents and builders hope that the line will be in service by 2023.
Recent Where in Dane County Articles
En una tarde de verano reciente, los estudiantes de periodismo de Simpson Street Free Press se dirigieron al sur de Madison hacia Oregon y Anderson Farm County Park. Los jardines polinizadores y la inauguración del arte público atrajeron nuestra atención hacia el parque porque hemos estado escribiendo sobre esos temas este verano. [read more...]
Have you ever heard of Prairie Moraine County Park? This park is a great place to enjoy beautiful scenery or simply take a walk. Prairie Moraine County Park is also known for having one of the best local dog parks and for its easy access to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. [read more...]
Regular readers of Simpson Street Free Press
know we are big fans of Indian Lake County Park. This is one of the largest and most popular parks in the Dane County system. And now you can support this wonderful place, visit the park during beautiful fall weather, and have fun all at the same time. [read more...]
My sisters and I attended a recent event at the Lussier Family Heritage Center. On a nice breezy day, sitting under a tree, our presenter, Lizzie Condon, a Whooping Crane Outreach Coordinator at the International Crane Foundation, taught us all about the Whooping Cranes. [read more...]
On a recent summer evening, Simpson Street Free Press student reporters headed just south of Madison toward Oregon and Anderson Farm County Park. Pollinator gardens and the unveiling of public art attracted our attention to the park because we’ve been writing about those subjects this summer. [read more...]
There are many good reasons to visit Indian Lake County Park. Located north of Madison just off Highway 19, it’s well worth the short drive. This park offers hiking trails, fishing, a play area for children, and a picnic area. During our recent visit, we also noticed that Indian Lake includes a very nice off-leash dog park. All and all, it is a perfect destination for a family outing. [read more...]
A $100,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NRF) Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Conservation Fund is set to restore 1,837 acres of pollinator habitat across 12 state natural areas in southwestern Wisconsin. The land contains over a dozen at-risk pollinator species, including the regal fritillary butterfly, rusty patched bumblebees, and Karner Blue butterflies, which are all on the brink of extinction. [read more...]
The purchase of a 465-megawatt solar and storage plant for Dane County is being considered by three Wisconsin utilities. Two months ago, Invenergy, a Chicago-based power company, submitted an application for a permit to build a 2,400-acre project in the villages of Christiana and Deerfield, Wisconsin. The companies hope to start power generation by the end of 2024, if the application is successful. Construction on the project, known as Koshkonong Solar, would start next year. [read more...]
Recent tests have revealed extremely high levels of dangerous contaminants called PFAS in the groundwater near former firefighting training grounds at the Dane County Regional Airport. [read more...]
Looking for fun activities to do this summer? The Lussier Family Heritage Center may have just what you are looking for! [read more...]
Are you interested in helping the local environment and learning more about native plant species in Wisconsin? If so, the Dane County Land and Resources Department has a fun and educational opportunity for you. [read more...]
Many of us enjoy the local lakes here in Madison. But what people might not know is that our lakes are being invaded.
Zebra mussels are D-shaped mussels that can grow up to two inches in length. They usually have yellow and brown shells with stripes. This invasive species was first discovered in the Madison lakes in 2015 by a class of University of Wisconsin students, although evidence suggests the mussels were present in Lake Mendota as early as 2012. Since that time, zebra mussels have spread to other area lakes including Monona, Wingra, and Waubesa. [read more...]
During the next few weeks, Dane County Parks staff will watch park facilities closely. Winter-spring transitions can lead to damage in county parks. Warm temperatures and rain pull frost from the earth during the spring thaw. This causes trails, dog-parks, and grassy areas to get muddy and soft. [read more...]
Recently, Dane County Board adopted a resolution that expands Indian Lake County Park. The resolution authorizes the purchase of 295 acres of land, which will be added to the park. This expansion makes Indian Lake County Park one of the biggest parks in Dane County. [read more...]
Over one hundred years ago, the Acker family converted 160 acres of wetlands and prairies into a dairy farm. In 2019, Dane County purchased the property for an unprecedented $10 million—the largest land purchase for conservation purposes in the county’s history. Restoration of the farmland to its original ecosystems is currently underway, an effort that will advance flood mitigation efforts and improve water quality, among other benefits. [read more...]
Almost everyone has heard of the Flint water crisis that rocked the nation back in 2016 and has continued to make national headlines since then. However, few know that Wisconsin has its own problems with water quality that it has been grappling with for decades. [read more...]
Thanksgiving morning in 2019 was very cold. But for me, it ended up being heartwarming.
Along with several of my Simpson Street Free Press colleagues, I made the trek to Fitchburg. We were not there for turkey--that was still in the oven. Rather we were there to volunteer for the Berbee Derby, a 10-kilometer race that winds its way through Fitchburg every Thanksgiving morning. Even though I spent much of the time wrapped in a warm blanket, I still got to participate and help out. And I still got to have fun. [read more...]
Alliant Energy plans on reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, making it the largest solar energy generator in Wisconsin to make such a pledge. This has become a growing trend among other utility groups, with the goal to eliminate all coal-powered generators in the near future. [read more...]
Chemicals that can be found in firefighting foam--and tools we use every day--heighten the risk for diseases like cancer. Due to this, Wisconsin has now started to limit the effect of these chemicals in our environment by restricting their use. New rules are being drafted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to control their use and are expected to be put in place in September. [read more...]
Donald Park in the southern part of Dane County is one of the most beloved natural areas in Wisconsin. But this beautiful place wouldn't be possible without the help of two visionary women, who not only donated the land but worked tirelessly to make it available to the public.
The women established the 800-acre park in 1993. It is not just a fun place to enjoy outdoor activities, but it also holds a lot of history and memories. Some ancient artifacts dated back 13,000 years ago, have been located at Donald Park. [read more...]
Donald Park is a beautiful park that has many features. But perhaps the most stunning and eye-catching is the big rock across the road from the park. It is named Donald Rock, also known as Preacher’s Cap, and has been there for 450 million years. [read more...]
Cherokee Marsh is home to a variety of flora and fauna that thrive in this unique and significant ecosystem. The marsh is also a very important part of Dane County’s natural environment.
Trees are especially scarce in marshes. Instead, these wetlands boast an abundance of herbaceous plants. Common plants at Cherokee Marsh include cattails, sago pondweed, and hard stem bulrush. This site also supports several rare plant species such as glade mallow, white ladyslipper, and tufted bulrush. Many mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians live in the marsh. [read more...]
The StoryWalk™ Project was initiated by Anne Ferguson, a chronic disease prevention specialist from Monterpelier, Vermont, in 2007. She wanted to find a way to encourage both kids and adults to be more active, which is very important to chronic illness prevention. She then launched StoryWalk, which is “an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time.” Since 2007, StoryWalk has been installed in 50 states and 12 countries. The latest local installment is here at the Lussier Family Heritage Center in William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park. [read more...]
Four years. Five phases. Six sites. That’s the scope of the $10-15 million Yahara River Sediment Removal Project, part of Dane County’s ongoing flood mitigation effort. It is an ambitious project that aims to cut in half the amount of time it takes for water to travel through the Yahara watershed. [read more...]
The Tenney Park Lock and Dam is located on the eastern shore of Lake Mendota along Sherman Avenue. It is between the City of Madison’s Filene Park and Tenney Beach. It is the largest of three boat locks on the Yahara River. [read more...]
Do want to learn more about how seeds travel and at the same time help restore natural areas in our beautiful Dane County Parks? [read more...]
Prairie Moraine County Park is a park in Verona known for its popular off-leash dog park and its mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The dog park offers an opportunity for dogs to let out their natural instincts and run around freely with nothing restraining them. “Prairie Moraine Friends” is an organization currently made of 65 members with the end goal of making more areas within the park accessible for dogs to exercise freely and have fun in. For the dog parks, a dog permit is required. [read more...]
Dane County Parks staff and dedicated volunteers have been working hard to restore the natural landscape at Indian Lake County Park. This effort has improved and enhanced what is certainly one of the most beautiful spots in southern Wisconsin. [read more...]
Dane County officials recently announced an important new land purchase in the Town of Verona. This will be the county’s largest conservation land purchase of 2020. The 160-acre acquisition adds to several other wildlife areas and natural resource areas near the Sugar River in southern Dane County. [read more...]
Dane County is testing a new technology designed to clean out algae blooms local lakes. Strange as it might sound, this new technology actually uses a vacuum to remove hazardous blue-green algae blooms located near Dane County’s beaches. [read more...]
Discussions about renewable energy are always critical topics here in Dane County. These issues are especially relevant in today as climate change and other global issues have sparked the need for more sustainable practices and alternative ways to produce energy. [read more...]
In August of 2018, the chain of lakes connected by the Yahara River had remained above target summer maximum levels—the appropriate lake levels set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—for four months, despite efforts to eliminate blockages in the system. Heavy rainfall on August 21 threatened to push the lakes over the edge. The city of Madison closed major thoroughfares as the water rushed in, damaging homes, businesses, and public infrastructure. First responders worked all night, evacuating residents from flooded homes and rescuing stranded motorists. [read more...]
There is a fascinating and ongoing story happening in Madison’s northside. It is a story rich with mystery and local history, and it’s a story you can explore for yourself. Legend has it that Lake View Hill County Park is haunted by spirits. The forest and graveyard behind the Lakeview Lutheran Church next to the park are the site of the most suspicious activity, even though the park was the location of an old hospital. Some say the site is haunted because before the building was built the land was sacred to Native Americans. [read more...]
With climate changing causing major shifts in weather behavior and ecosystem conditions, a focus in urban cities concerns the development of “green infrastructure” to tackle urban flooding and runoff into streams and lakes. [read more...]
After the disappointment of last season’s interruption at UW-Madison, due to Covid-19, the Badgers Women’s basketball team has announced exciting news for the Madison community. Two new players have committed to the recruiting class of 2021: Krystyna Ellew and Sacia Vanderpool. [read more...]
People may not know much about red pandas, but something many can agree on is that these animals are cute! [read more...]
There is no denying the importance of the arts in our city, with murals lining streets and buildings, art fairs, museums, and the artists that make it all possible. Two of those artists, Sachi and Laura Komai, can be found at their paper and craft shop, Anthology. [read more...]
Most of us consume plenty of good food on Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, Dane County has the perfect balance for all the calories. At the annual Berbee Derby, we can all get some good exercise Thanksgiving morning, and then enjoy the rest of the day with family and friends. [read more...]
Recreational fishing brings at least two-billion dollars to the Wisconsin economy each year. Much of this economic activity is due to the popularity of the walleye. This fish has a long history with Wisconsin and its people. [read more...]
A Dane County land conservation group, Groundswell Conservancy, recently purchased 69 acres of wetlands in the Town of Dunn, south of McFarland. [read more...]
The city of Stoughton is thinking about removing their dam on the Yahara River for a redesign project of the riverfront. The goal is to make it cleaner, safer, more attractive, and may also include a whitewater paddling feature. [read more...]
One man’s trash will be converted into another man’s fuel in a recently completed $29 million landfill biogas facility at the Dane County Landfill. The County works with a local contractor, BioFerm Energy Systems. [read more...]
There is much to see in Dane County. Excellent museums, beautiful scenery, the state Capitol building, and the UW-Madison campus. In addition to its beautiful natural landscape, Madison has a rich and fascinating cultural landscape. We even have storm drains decorated with art. [read more...]
Access to renewable energy and fuel is a growing necessity in today’s world as concerns about global climate change rise. In an attempt to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, Dane County plans to use a new process to convert gas from decaying/decomposing trash into fuel for vehicles. [read more...]
Canadian pipeline company Enbridge will move forward with operating an oil pumping station in Waterloo, Wisconsin—without special insurance—after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company in a 4-1 decision, with two justices abstaining. [read more...]
The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department has done many projects that have helped reduce the number of invasive species. Staff work to prevent the invasive species from reproducing and keep their populations manageable. Their main goal is to keep invasive species in check, “in order to keep the integrity of the prairie intact”.
When non-native plants/animals are brought to a new area, they can quickly take over and change the ecosystem. When this happens they are considered invasive species. [read more...]
The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department has run a grant program since 2005 that helps municipalities clean up their waterways. They have helped fund over 60 projects: stormwater ponds, where water acts as a trap for sediment flowing into larger bodies of water, dry depression ponds that hold water while raining, underground chambers that trap trash and large chunks of sediment, and other creative ideas to prevent sediment and urban runoff from getting into lakes and rivers. [read more...]
The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department works hard to preserve and reinforce Dane County's historic, natural, and cultural resources. The Parks division manages over 12,000 acres of park lands in Dane County as well as hosts events such as yoga, Lil’ Explorers, and festivals. If you are interested in getting more involved with Dane County Parks there are volunteer opportunities that range from helping to maintain the parks to monitoring the animals that live within them. [read more...]
Simpson Street Free Press always has its eyes open for interesting museum exhibitions, and now the Overture Center is about to open a showcase, “Phoenix from the Ashes,” in the Playhouse Gallery running from September sixth through October 27th. [read more...]
Come one, come all to the 15th annual Harvest Moon Festival! It’s being held at the gorgeous Lussier Family Heritage Center on October 4th from 6-9pm, and features many interesting events this year. From the torch-lit prairie trail to the silent auction held inside, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy. [read more...]
A two-year-old polar bear, named Nuniq, moved to the zoo in September 2018. He is the son of Nanuq, a polar bear that lived at the Vilas Zoo for two decades. [read more...]
Flooding isn’t one of Dane County’s biggest concerns, but there is certainly a risk. [read more...]
On March 4, the “world’s largest and most prestigious honor society for two-year college students”, the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, announced that it will present Madison College President Jack Daniels with the preeminent award for community college presidents. [read more...]
The Dane County UW-Extension (UWEX) Master Gardener Volunteer program educates people in Dane County on how to grow and take care of plants and other natural resources. People who volunteer in the program use the information they learn to enable them to answer residents’ questions about gardening through face-to-face contacts, phone calls or emails. Experts within the Master Gardener Volunteer program who can answer more specific questions are also available. [read more...]
Throughout recent years, cougar sightings in Wisconsin have occurred in over 17 different locations, suggesting that the feline is returning to Wisconsin’s landscape after more than a century gone. [read more...]
Native bee populations are declining. They are being threatened by urbanization and new farming techniques which can both poison the bees and harm their food source. Yet, there are ways that communities and individuals can help the bees. [read more...]
Son conocidos como “crazy worms” o “gusanos locos”, están invadiendo nuestros suelos forestales y tenemos que hacer algo al respecto. [read more...]
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism recently announced it has joined the Trust Project. [read more...]
As summer comes to an end and days of water fun are over, it’s easy to forget about our lakes. A leaf management study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that fall is a crucial time of the year to take action. [read more...]
The UW Extension FoodWIse nutrition and education program focuses on helping the community, specifically limited-income families, choose healthier food options. It is federally funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). [read more...]
Fruits, berries, nuts, and mushrooms abound in Dane County parks. Fragrant apples flourish in public orchards, luscious blackberries grow alongside hiking trails, delectable morel mushrooms thrive at the base of tucked-away trees, and so much more. The best part is, these tasty treasures are free and available to the public. [read more...]
When rainwater runs off the land and enters a storm drain, it often empties into a nearby body of water and remains untreated. This poses a problem because increased urbanization in Dane County is creating more runoff. Many surfaces in urban areas are either impervious or absorb very little water, like roads and traditional lawns. Before heavy development, natural land absorbed 80-100% of rainwater. [read more...]
The Mellowhood Foundation’s Summer Initiative is a paid summer program in the southwest Madison Meadowood neighborhood that teaches a large age-range of children about independence and real-world responsibilities. The initiative draws on the knowledge students already have from school, while also teaching them skills such as independence and self-determination. Mellowhood student Amaria has learned valuable lessons through the program, such as “working hard, getting good grades, and failing from time to time.” [read more...]
Native plants are an important part of our ecosystem due to their many benefits, but their numbers are quickly dwindling. A new program by the Land and Water Resources Department aims to encourage more native gardens around Dane County. The program, called Plant Dane, is growing and offering free native plants to schools and community centers. Native plant gardens can be quite costly due to the high price of native plants. By offering free plants from the county, schools and communities that previously didn't have the money to create a garden now can. [read more...]
European settlers such as Frank Hudson gave the Yahara Lakes beautiful Native American names. Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, Lake Kegonsa among other lakes are well-known to Madison residents; but many do not know why the settlers chose such a specific style of names. [read more...]
Dane County recently acquired interest in 130 acres of land along the Yahara River near the Cherokee Marsh, north of Madison, for $1.5 million. Improving lake water quality and offering new recreational opportunities, this expansion of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Area Resource could benefit the Madison community. [read more...]
Barks for Parks is an annual fundraiser for Dane County’s dog parks. Dane County is one of the first places in the United States to have designated off-leash areas for dogs and has been used as a model for other systems across the country. Barks for Parks raises money for upgrades, expansion, and special projects in Dane County’s dog parks. The event is a day-long celebration filled with music, food, and fun. [read more...]
Set to begin summer of 2018, Madison Area Technical College will be adding a new feature to their campus. The largest rooftop solar system in Wisconsin will be implemented on top of the main Truax Campus building. Through a cooperation between Madison Gas and Electric, the program will bring alternative energy sources and new education opportunities to the Madison community. [read more...]
The McCarthy Youth & Conservation County Park is a spacious park in Cottage Grove that offers many activities for families and friends to enjoy. The park’s 285 acres of land features equestrian trails, hiking trails, camping sites, sledding hills, snowshoe trails, cross-country ski trails, picnic areas, and archery areas. [read more...]
The Capital Times, founded by William T. Evjue, turns 100 years old this year. Current editor emeritus, Dave Zweifel, is proud of the newspaper’s long and rich history. In fact, Mr. Zweifel refers to The Capital Times as Madison's proudly radical newspaper. [read more...]
Tensions are rising as lawmakers, environmentalists, local residents and sponsoring companies continue to debate plans for the new Cardinal-Hickory-Creek transmission line. Although project advocates boast the proposed project will provide low-cost and renewable energy, the line poses potential health risks for residents of southern Wisconsin and threatens the surrounding environment. [read more...]
El sendero del río Yahara, Yahara River Trail que es parte del sistema de parques del condado de Dane, continúa avanzando y expandiéndose. El sendero conecta el parque McDaniel en McFarland con el sendero Capital City Trail en Madison, y con la red de senderos recreativos en la parte sureste del condado de Dane. [read more...]
The Yahara River Trail, part of the Dane County park system, continues to move forward and expand. The trail connects McDaniel Park in McFarland with the Capital City Trail in Madison. It also connects local recreational trail systems with the southeastern part of Dane County. [read more...]
On a chilly and cloudy morning, we took a trip to Lake Farm County Park, a section of the Capital Springs Recreation Area, to take a tour of the property and the new Lower Yahara River Trail. The Lower River Trail includes a new boardwalk bridge that stretches over Lake Waubesa, connecting Madison to McFarland. The total distance of the trail is 2.5 miles, and the bridge itself is an impressive mile long. The boardwalk bridge is fully accessible and features fishing piers and scenic outlooks. At the end of the bridge, the tranquility of McDaniel Park awaited us. [read more...]
The Rosemary Garfoot Public Library is a central gathering place and a source of information for the Cross Plains community. [read more...]
A plan to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes is in hot water. Recent plans to protect the lakes is meeting opposition from both the Trump administration and some Great Lakes states, despite the support of environmentalists. [read more...]
A lot of people enjoy a drive through Wisconsin in autumn. Do you ever wonder why the leaves change colors or why they only change during the fall? [read more...]
The “I Have A Dream” Ball is a Madison Tradition. And it’s much more. The annual event organized by Women In Focus is an important part of our community history. [read more...]
Mary Kolar, District 1 Supervisor and member of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, and I recently sat down with James Mills discuss local water issues. He spoke articulately and passionately about his work, the environment, and his perspective on water. [read more...]
Dr. Jack Daniels recently announced in a press conference that Madison Area Technical College will open a new campus on the south side of Madison in 2019. The college also announced a new partnership with the Madison School district. The plan is to open an expanded campus able to serve as many as 5500 students. [read more...]
Most buildings nowadays are made of metal. However, the new Festival Foods located on East Washington Avenue took advantage of another organic material: ash and red pine trees. [read more...]
Michelle Richardson llegó a nuestra oficina con una sonrisa y un mapa en sus manos. Ella es la analista GIS (siglas en inglés para Geographic Information System) en el Departamento de Recursos de Tierra y Agua del condado de Dane. Pasamos la mañana discutiendo con ella sobre su carrera, vida personal, y experiencias trabajando en el departamento. Ella fue muy dulce y conversacional, preguntándonos sobre nuestra escuela y nuestras vidas. [read more...]
At exactly 10:30 am on a Thursday morning we welcomed Steve Ottelien into our office at the Dane County Land and Water Resource Department for an interview. This friendly, approachable man had agreed to talk to us about his job as a soil and water conservationist. [read more...]
Last Thursday, I paid a visit to the Jenni and Kyle Preserve, a Dane County Park with a positive mission. Specially designed for people with disabilities, the park is fully accessible to ensure a fun outdoor experience for all. [read more...]
After 30 years of planning, the Lower Yahara River Trail will soon be open to the public. The highly anticipated trail will connect McDaniel Park in McFarland with Capital City Trail in Madison. It does more than just bridge two places; however, it will also tie two communities together. [read more...]
Recently, a sandbox was installed at the Henry Vilas Zoo. But it’s not just any sandbox. It is an Augmented Reality (AR) sandbox that simulates topographic features and water systems to teach people about watersheds. The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department and the Henry Vilas Zoo partnered to construct this educational model for all ages to view.
is a piece of land that drains precipitation into a body of water. The exhibit at Vilas will help citizens of Madison understand how watersheds work. The model also aims to make viewers more aware of where water goes when it runs off their yards and driveways into storm drains, lakes, and streams. [read more...]
Simpson Street, the road on which Simpson Street Free Press was established, was once a corn field and the Royal Airport. The area around Antler’s Tavern—a beloved institution—has been through many challenges, but it’s always had a strong sense of community. [read more...]
Over the past year, Wisconsin has revised dozens of permits for high-capacity wells, allowing for an additional billion gallons of groundwater to be extracted. Recently, Wisconsin legislature passed a bill essentially removing the Department of Natural Resources' permit checks when wells are repaired, rebuilt, or transferred. [read more...]
For many Wisconsinites, summer means enjoying the thousands of lakes sprinkled across the state. However, the spread of invasive species can heavily damage these waterways, and even endanger visitors. [read more...]
After years of planning, a major redevelopment project is taking shape in Monona. The recently approved project is getting positive feedback from residents and will start construction later this year. The $36 million improvement plan, developed by Galway Companies, will take place. [read more...]
Rulers of Japan for almost 700 years, the Samurai warriors established an impressive legacy, one that continues to astound many to this day. Recently, SSFP staff and students had the opportunity to delve into the fascinating history of Samurai warriors at the Chazen Museum of Art’s stunning “Samurai: The Way of the Warrior” exhibit. [read more...]
The Simpson Street Free Press interns for the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department recently had the chance to attend a teaching workshop at the UW- Madison Arboretum. It was hosted by the Latino Earth Partnership, an organization that works to promote collaboration between educators and Latino communities. [read more...]
Por primera vez, la división de parques del condado de Dane ha desarrollado una encuesta como un esfuerzo añadido para obtener aportes de los ciudadanos en su Plan para Parques y Espacios abiertos. Cada cinco años la división de parques actualiza su plan, pero este año realizará una encuesta para los habitantes del condado de Dane tanto en inglés como en español. Los resultados obtenidos de la encuesta serán considerados para diseñar el plan para el periodo de 2018-2023. [read more...]
For the first time, the Dane County Parks Division has developed a survey as an added outreach effort to get citizen input on their Parks and Open Space Plan. Every five years, the Parks Division updates the plan, but this year they will administer a survey of Dane County residents in English and Spanish. The feedback from the survey will be considered to design the 2018-2023 plan. [read more...]
Simpson Street editor Taylor Kilgore was driving home from our South Towne office the other day when she noticed something beautiful. Before her eyes, a group of artists, including teenagers, were working on a colorful mural on the side of the Well No. 3 Building on 6500 Raywood Road in Monona. [read more...]
We met at our South Towne newsroom early one Wednesday morning—most of us with droopy eyes and tired faces. It was early, but we were excited for the day’s adventure: we were headed westward toward Mount Horeb to visit the village’s new Driftless Historium & Mount Horeb Area Historical Society. [read more...]
In the 21st century, the world is at our fingertips. Smartphones provide the answers to any question imaginable in just a few seconds. These pocket-sized devices also allow users to connect with others almost anytime, anywhere. Yet while we may take them for granted, smartphones didn’t always exist: inventors worked through decades of design to bring us the modern phone we have today. [read more...]
UW-Madison recently created a new website, the STEM Diversity Network, that promotes connecting diverse people on campus in various STEM fields. The website compiles resources on science, technology, engineering, and math. [read more...]
From wetlands to prairies, a diverse range of biomes contributes to the preservation of natural resources and wildlife in Wisconsin. Climate change, prairie loss, and deforestation have reduced some of the state’s richest sources of species diversity over the last couple of decades. [read more...]
A tiny creature is making a big splash in Dane County. The New Zealand mud snail was detected for the second time in the area, and officials are becoming concerned about the invasive mollusk. First discovered three years ago in Black Earth Creek, the snail was recently sighted in Badger Mill Creek in Verona. [read more...]
Wisconsin will face $7 billion in wastewater infrastructure and drinking water needs over the next 20 years, according to a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. [read more...]
The DNR states that the mission of Wisconsin state parks is “to protect and enhance our natural resources...to ensure the right of all people to use and enjoy these resources in their work and leisure… and in this partnership consider the future and generations to follow.” Unfortunately, these goals may become less attainable with Governor Walker’s recent proposal to eliminate tax support for the state park system. [read more...]
One effective way to conserve is to spread awareness about environmental issues. We at Simpson Street Free Press know this well and emphasize energy and environment topics in our curriculum. Members of the Wisconsin chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recently visited our South Towne newsroom to present a panel around the theme “Conservation and the Environment.” [read more...]
Alyssa Anderson, a 7th grade student at James C. Wright Middle School, was recently chosen from thousands of applicants as the Wisconsin winner of the ‘Doodle 4 Google’ contest. [read more...]
In an effort to reach underserved young people and diversify their pool of applicants, Edgewood College recently created a program that would encourage diversity among its college students. To learn more about this program—the “Edgewood College Math Precollege Program”—Simpson Street Free Press reporters interviewed Steven Post, professor of Mathematics at Edgewood. [read more...]
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently that $2 million is available in the Urban Water Quality Grant Program for 2017. This is welcome news to county residents seeking to halt the flow of local water pollutants. [read more...]
A new exhibit recently opened to the public at Henry Vilas Zoo. The exhibit celebrates Wisconsin history and the creatures who are the face behind it all—badgers. [read more...]
Imagine a wall. On it is painted a destructive sea with a mountainous tree in the middle. Grimy pollution litters the tree’s roots. Also featured are small white human and animal silhouettes. Elegant flowers gild treetops. Behind these designs are two worlds—human and natural—that depict antagonistic relationships. This wall, these images are more than just fantasy; in fact, this is a real mural that Japanese artist Ikeda Manabu has worked on for the past three years at the Chazen Museum of Art. [read more...]
A recent discovery from a Dane County study found that targeting residual sludge might be the key to mitigating phosphorus pollution in the waterways of southern Wisconsin. This has spurred immediate action by the county, and a new plan by Dane County Executive, Joe Parisi may make waves in Wisconsin environmental efforts. [read more...]
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently that local benefactor Stephen Morton donated 114 acres of forestland to Dane County Parks. Located in the Black Earth/Mazomanie area, the newly-unveiled Morton Forest illuminates many scenic views including the Blue Mound, which is the biggest hill in southern Wisconsin. [read more...]
Marianne Morton, Executive Director at Common Wealth Development, announced her retirement after 35 years working for the company. Morton began working at Common Wealth as a VISTA volunteer with the AmeriCorps program and was hired as permanent staff in 1983. From there, she rose through the ranks. [read more...]
According to a 2003 study, more than 70,000 Dane County residents grapple with low literacy. Founded in 1974, Madison’s Literacy Network directly combats low literacy and provides free services for those hoping to improve their English language skills. [read more...]
Katrin Brendemuehl, age 13 and Callan Bird Bear, age 12
The gorgeous artwork crafted by Native American tribes known as beadwork can be as intricate as the wings of a dragonfly. The allure of colorful glass beads against a dark, rich fabric is enough to catch nearly anyone’s eye. This fall, the James Watrous Gallery, a gallery at the Overture Center with a focus on contemporary Wisconsin artists, features these culturally significant, powerful works. [read more...]
Recently, friend of the Free Press and valued volunteer, Jane Coleman, surprised a group of Free Press reporters with a field trip to the Japanese wood block exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art. The group of us—including Diamond, Dija, James, Christy, Felicia, Ruthanne, and our editors Taylor and Aarushi—met at the South Towne newsroom where Jane gave us a briefing. Jane explained that Dr. Gene Phillips, professor of Japanese Art, had generously agreed to take us into the “floating world.” He would be acting as a docent, or a volunteer guide, for us. Excited, we grabbed our freshly sharpened pencils, notepads, and camera. We piled into two cars and crossed the isthmus. [read more...]
For many lower income students, going to college might seem like an unreachable dream. Thankfully, a $50,000 donation from UW Health and Unity Health Insurance to Madison College will provide scholarships to under-represented youth to help them get on the right path toward a health care career. [read more...]
Completing college is a milestone that improves quality of life and future earning potential. But for many graduating high school seniors, high tuition fees are a barrier to attending college. To help bridge the gap for lower-income students, Madison College (MATC) has launched the Scholars of Promise program. [read more...]
The ‘Maker Faire’ movement is sweeping the nation. And earlier this month, it took Madison by storm. [read more...]
Fans of Shakespeare, buckle up! The first folio, a printed collection of William Shakespeare’s work dating back to 1623, is coming to Madison. [read more...]
In Flint, Michigan, people have unwittingly ingested lead-infused water due to a change of water sources. But how do they find out where people are getting poisoned and who has lead in their blood? [read more...]
Out of the 600 Somali Wild Asses in the world, two of them were sent to our own Henry Vilas Zoo, earlier this summer. [read more...]
When I first walked into Simpson Street Free Press about six months ago, I couldn't believe it. There were young people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds working in a newsroom. And working really hard. This group of kids produces five publications, including the bilingual newspaper La Prensa. SSFP students also organize book clubs, do geography quizzes, and hold vocab contests. At first I was a little intimidated, but now I actually think it’s fun.
My point is this: none of this would be possible without United Way of Dane County. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered what the inside of a technology company looks like and what goes on there? Recently, Simpson Street Free Press
student reporters had the opportunity to visit Hardin Design and Development (HDD), a Madison software and application firm founded in 2008. Vice President and Co-founder of HDD Scott Resnick and HDD employee Anouson Bounket led us on a tour of the start-up company. We also had the chance to sit down with them and ask questions about what it’s like to work in the tech industry. [read more...]
Simpson Street Free Press student reporters recently had the opportunity to meet and interview potters from the rural Mexican village of Mata Ortiz at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). Each artist has a unique story—some began the trade at age 17, while others started at only four years old. All of the artists, young and old, share a deep passion for the ceramic arts and their village. [read more...]
A small, once dirt-poor Mexican village now hosts one of the largest concentrations of modern artists in the world. In fact, for the 1,200 residents of Mata Ortiz, high-quality ceramics have become more than an expression of culture—they have become a way of life. [read more...]
The Barrymore Theatre played host to special guests this past Mother’s Day: Ann Imig and the cast of “Listen to Your Mother.” [read more...]
Even before the renovation, when the Goodman Library was just another block in the strip mall, my family and I have gone there to do everything from participating in movie nights, to finding a quiet corner and reading. [read more...]
The E.D. Locke Public Library of McFarland has been my favorite library since it was built in 2005. This library houses numerous books, audio books, movies, and magazines. It also has many different features that make it a great place to read, study, and relax. [read more...]
Those who frequent Vilas Park have likely noticed the Old-Woman-in-a-Shoe slide. For decades it has entertained young children, yet its history has mystfied the public. [read more...]
It was a misty afternoon when we decided to venture out to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. As we pulled up the long and winding road towards the Center, we were greeted by a couple of sandhill cranes. We could tell this was going to be a trip to remember! [read more...]
Margaret Jenks, music teacher at Van Hise Elementary school, accepted the first Award for Excellence in Music Education from the Madison Symphony Orchestra earlier this Spring. Created in partnership with Ward-Brodt Music, this award recognizes a passionate, dedicated, and innovative educator who positively effects the lives of students. [read more...]
During a recent tour of the newly expanded Aldo Leopold Nature Center, executive director Camille Zanoni shared some alarming data with Free Press student writers. Zanoni said that children spend only one percent of their time outside. This directly correlates with a rise in childhood obesity, depression, ADD/ADHD, and cardiovascular problems. [read more...]
We recently made a trip to downtown Madison. Simpson Street Free Press writers, Lucy Ji, Alex Lee, and Helen Zhang, visited the City-Council Building looking for another piece of local history. What we found was a little-known treasure that is both history and art. [read more...]
Summer time is great for a lot of reasons. It’s warmer, there’s no school, there’s no rules, and there’s so much free time. With almost three months of summer vacation, it is important to add in some reading to your free time. [read more...]
Co-founder and owner of Isthmus Publishing Company is selling to the owners of Red Card Media, an off-campus meal-card program for students. In a post on the Isthmus website Thursday, Vince O’ Hern announced the sale to a group including Craig Bartlett, Jeff Haupt, and former Green Bay Packer, Mark Tauscher. [read more...]
En la opinión de la abogada Amber Raffeet, la educación es muy importante. Ella piensa que con una educación, todo es posible. Su trabajo con la comunidad latina y el sistema de inmigración es ejemplar. [read more...]
When Jacob Gillizter went to the Department of Natural Resources to get approval to fish in a local creek for a school project, he was told it would be a waste of time. [read more...]
When I was five my mother took me to an introductory rehearsal of The Tempest at the Young Shakespeare Players theater. My mom talked to the directors and read pamphlets; she was scoping out the program to see if it was something I’d like to do in a few years. But when she decided it was time for us to leave, she found me, of all places, on stage introducing myself and saying I wanted to be in the play. Richard DiPrima, the founder and director of Young Shakespeare Players (YSP), told my mother, “The readiness is all,” a quote from Hamlet. Even though the age minimum to perform was seven, he encouraged me to join. I recently completed my 11th production, Will & Sid Ride Again, and am about to start on my 12th. [read more...]
When Free Press reporters decided to check out the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, I was thrilled. As a consistent museum goer, I am impressed by the Chazen’s vast art collection and recent building expansion. [read more...]
Bullies usually don’t pay for what they do, and often parents have no idea what’s happening. But now, the city of Monona has decided to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions. [read more...]
Mount Zion Baptist church is a vital institution in south Madison. It has contributed in many important ways to the south side community. Any of us who have grown up in south Madison know Mt. Zion. It seems like the church has always been here. But, that is not the case. [read more...]
On a clear and crisp evening reporters from Simpson Street Free Press set out for the UW-Madison campus. There, we got a chance to visit the Washburn Observatory and catch a glimpse of some well-known planets in the night skies. [read more...]
Recently, a group of Simpson Street Free Press reporters and I took a trip to the UW Madison’s L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum located in Chamberlin Hall. The museum featured hands-on physics demonstrations that appeal to young and old audiences alike. The exhibits were fascinating, and really grabbed our attention. We knew right away that this was a story we wanted to cover. The experiments that take place here explain physics in a way that even a younger child can understand. It is a place of exploration and discovery. [read more...]
Recently, fellow reporters Rosalinda, Patricia, Alexis, Aarushi, Claire and I visited a museum rich in ancient fossils and animal artifacts. Unlike other museums, this one was located cozily between the kitchen and living room of David Wandel’s house. [read more...]
Recently, fellow Free Press reporters, Alex Lee, Pallav Regmi, and I went on a trip to the “oldest classroom in the Wisconsin”. The Cave of the Mounds is a national landmark located in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. There really is a lot to learn about this million-year old cave! [read more...]
One hundred fifty years ago master architects Samuel Donnel and August Kotzbock built a number of beautiful buildings right here in Madison. Five of these buildings still stand today in a downtown district called Mansion Hill. [read more...]
On a recent cold evening, a group of Simpson Street Free Press reporters gathered at the Goodman South Madison Library. We were in pursuit of a very hot story. [read more...]
It was a bright and beautiful Wednesday afternoon when fellow staff writers, Antoneah Armour, Pallav Regmi, Victor Lien and I, went to visit Mahon Antique Restorations. Located less than five minutes from our south side newsroom, our editor told us this would be a good story. We weren’t sure why. We were anticipating a lecture about furniture, but instead we found something much more fascinating. [read more...]
Simpson Street Free Press reporters love road trips. They’re fun, educational, and we often come back with great stories for our newspaper. One of our recent road trips brought us to another remarkable place. When we got there, we found ourselves up-close and personal with a slice of Wisconsin’s past. [read more...]
When we think of schools today, we generally think of large buildings filled with hundreds of students. On a recent visit to a one-room school house, we were reminded there was a time when schools were not so populous. We spent the day learning what it was like to attend the Old Halfway Prairie School House, a school that was founded in 1848. Now it’s a museum. Our gracious hosts were Darlene Grover, a former student and her teacher, Cleo Brockman. [read more...]
If you travel north of Madison on Highway 12 for about 25 minutes you will cross the Wisconsin River at Sauk City. Soon after crossing the Wisconsin River Bridge, Highway 12 begins its climb through an ancient mountain chain. This is Wisconsin’s famous Baraboo Range. [read more...]
On a recent sunny Saturday, Free Press reporters took a short trip from Madison to Cross Plains. This is a cute little town just west of Middleton on Highway 14. Cross Plains also happens to be where Wisconsin’s first ever “green library” is located. The Rosemary Garfoot Public Library is built to the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). [read more...]
Just south of Verona, where county highway PB meets state highway 69, lies the adorable little town of Paoli. Over the years Free Press reporters have visited Paoli several times to get ice cream, snack on delicious cheese, and study local history. [read more...]
One hot summer afternoon, we were on a quest to find a snack to cool us down, when we encountered some trolls. This may seem odd considering we live in Wisconsin, but they greeted us in the town of Mount Horeb, also known as the Troll Capital or Trollway. [read more...]
About 2.5 million years ago massive glaciers the size of continents began to move across the surface of the earth. About 10,000 years ago the last of these magnificent ice structures in North America receded from what is now the Midwest and Great Lakes region. In Wisconsin they left behind a path we now call the Ice Age Trail. [read more...]