Festge Park: Dane County Historical Society Natural History Series


“You are looking across a deep preglacial valley. Once glacial meltwaters drained west to the Wisconsin River, depositing sand and gravel brought south to Middleton by the giant ice sheets. Today, winding through this unglaciated outwash plain is Black Earth Creek — Dane County’s most productive trout stream. Although aided by fish stocking and habitat improvement, the creek’s greatest asset is the abundant flow of cold spring water filtering through the gravel. This rapid flow turns high water fertility, from farmland and sewage, into fish food. The creek’s flow keeps oxygen high and temperatures low while also scouring away mud and silt from the gravel bottom — necessities for trout reproduction. The evergreen plantings along the creek mark the birthplace of Madison Schools’ Outdoor “Work-Learn” Conservation Program. Bordering the valley, the dolomite limestone bluffs support oak woods which date from the first days of fire protection in settlement times. Where conditions are too dry for oaks, lime-loving red cedars of interesting sizes and shapes have come in as grazing reduced the grass cover, as on the slope below. Restoring the drouth-resistant prairie on this dry, sunny slope could link the park to the strip of unplowed presettlement prairie which still exists along the railroad below. This is desirable now that prairie plants are rare, and there is much interest in replanting them. (Dane County Historical Society)

4894 Scherbel Rd, Cross Plains, WI 53528
43.122190 -89.684549
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