Friends of Festge Park

Friends of Festge Park Friends of Festge is a volunteer group committed to restoring, maintaining, and enhancing the ecological diversity of Festge County Park and Selmo Pond.
Our mailing address: Friends of Festge Park P.O. Box 44 Cross Plains, WI 53528 Festge County Park is located at 4894 Scherbel Road, 1 mile west of Cross Plains on Hwy. 14 with Salmo Pond County Park at 4809 Scherbel Road. Go To Dane County Parks website for more information on both Parks.
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A fun winter post to enjoy.  Jeanette Hoard
02/17/2020

A fun winter post to enjoy. Jeanette Hoard

Why walk when you could slide? River otters save energy in the winter months by sliding across snowy slopes on their bellies - sometimes you can even see the tracks they leave behind!

Photo: A river otter begins sliding across the snow, captured on a trail cam at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.

02/03/2020

It was a beautiful day to get out for a walk at Festge Park. While I was there yesterday, I was asked if the Overlook was open, as the service road isn't plowed to the Overlook this year; only the service road to Shelter 1, and that parking lot, is being plowed. Budgets, staff and time...we were disappointed, too.

Yes, the newly updated and expanded Overlook is open and you will need to walk from the Shelter 1 parking lot to the Overlook.

We've been seeing quite a few snowshoers at Festge Park and they are enjoying the trails and beauty of the Park. So think about doing that at Festge Park if you like that sport.
Jeanette

Yesterday the Cross Plains Boy Scout Troop 87 held their annual pancake breakfast.  We had an Eagle Scout project at Fes...
02/03/2020

Yesterday the Cross Plains Boy Scout Troop 87 held their annual pancake breakfast. We had an Eagle Scout project at Festge Park ending in 2019 of putting in walking paths, plantings, butterfly stations, ID signs, etc. in the old Ball Diamond. Here is a photo of Forest and his documentation of the project. We were very pleased and grateful for all the work they did, and Forest will continue his leadership abilities into college soon.

Also, the troop has more young men ready to do more projects at Festge soon. We love hearing that along with leaders who are very involved, and wanting outdoor, meaningful projects. Jeanette

Thanks to Terry Devitt for writing this article that captures what we do (restoration), who we are (oddballs) and a typi...
01/10/2020
Oddballs and swampers

Thanks to Terry Devitt for writing this article that captures what we do (restoration), who we are (oddballs) and a typical day at the "office". Thanks also to Michael Kienitz for the drone photo. Enjoy!!

Festge Park is an example of how volunteer labor from “oddballs” can restore an area to its natural state.

Gary Nelson will be doing a presentation at the Fox Valley Wild Ones 24th Annual Conference "Toward Harmony with Nature"...
12/15/2019
Info

Gary Nelson will be doing a presentation at the Fox Valley Wild Ones 24th Annual Conference "Toward Harmony with Nature" being held January 25, 2020 at the Oshkosh Convention Center, 2 N. Main St., Oshkosh, WI. The keynote speaker is Steven Packard, who was featured in the book "Miracle Under the Oaks." Gary's presentation "How A Small Volunteer Effort Became The Largest Driftless Area Habitat Restoration In The History Of Dane County Parks" will start at 1:15 pm. Gary will explore lessons learned and techniques used to remove invasives, restore native plants, and more. I'll also be there to assist.

Ron Endres will be there for his 2nd year as a vendor selling his Native Seed Necklaces.

For more information or to register, go to https://www.towardharmonywithnature.org/info.html
Jeanette

Chances are most people have never thought of their gardens or their yards as habitats that represent the last chance we have for sustaining plants, insects and animals that were once common...

11/17/2019

Greetings All,

The holidays are coming up, but for us, that means more chain saw time in the woods as Jim Parry has more time to share! In case folks aren’t aware, we sometimes work holidays, weekends and even…..Super Bowl Sunday! Not to say you have to, but if the Packer’s aren’t playing, you can burn off some calories instead. 😊

Jim’s next all-day work party is Saturday, December 7th, starting at 8:00 am. Location will be in Phase II (northern area) and most likely be accessed in the old Shelter 3 area. Driving there may be weather dependent so if the site changes, we will let you know accordingly. We will need chain sawyers and brush haulers.

As usual, Friends of Festge will provide food and beverages for break and lunch. Let us know if you can make it or not, and for about how long. Any amount of time is greatly appreciated.

Future dates for all-day work parties are: Tuesday, December 31st and Wednesday, January 1st, 2020. We celebrate clearing the way for future woodland prairies on these days. We’ll certainly do something even more special for food and a short after work party. Also, it’s our tradition to burn well-worn work clothing on these days, esp. the 1st. We joke about the year Jim threw his old chain saw jacket into the flames which caught fire almost before it hit the flames! I’ll be sending another email for these dates in a couple of weeks.

We are always looking for more volunteers, individuals or groups, during the week or weekends. If you know of someone who might be interested, let me know. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks,
Jeanette Gary Nelson
608-279-3755 608-279-7401

Here is a map of trails at Festge County Park.  Note the closed trail goes around a hayfield and is in the northern area...
11/08/2019

Here is a map of trails at Festge County Park. Note the closed trail goes around a hayfield and is in the northern area of the Park.

Ever have one of those days when attaching a pdf file to a page is a struggle? My work around is a photo so if it appears a little off, my technical knowledge is the reason. 😏

11/08/2019

Due to hazards along the .9 of a mile outer loop trail, it has been temporarily closed until further notice. Dane County Parks staff will be addressing the hazards and once that is done, it will be reopened. It's a great trail so once reopened, park visitors will be able to enjoy it again.

On October 6th, Jane Sturgess Varda facilitated a Plein Air class on pastel painting at our scenic Overlook.  The view o...
10/11/2019

On October 6th, Jane Sturgess Varda facilitated a Plein Air class on pastel painting at our scenic Overlook. The view of the Black Earth Creek valley is outstanding and served as the perfect backdrop for the artists. The weather cooperated, too.

Thanks Jane Sturgess Varda for the wonderful photos. 🙂

09/15/2019

In June, we applied for a grant through the Friends of Dane County Parks Endowment Fund's non-profit organization, the Foundation for Dane County Parks. We are excited to announce that we received our grant request of $1,994.88! We will purchase further needed equipment of a STIHL trimmer (with attachments), blower (with power sweep and bristle brush) and two backpack sprayers. The robust blower will be able to do several functions with the added attachments. All are needed items to help us perform restoration and maintenance in ever increasing acreage with further minimal mechanization.

When I said excited, I mean more like downright thrilled! 🥳This was the first round of grants offered by The Foundation for Dane County Parks and we are very appreciative to have received these funds. It makes a great deal of difference to us, along with the other Friends groups, to have a further opportunity for grants. As a non-profit organization, we have to purchase most of our supplies and equipment with providing personal equipment (such as chain saws) in order to do the restoration work.

A big thanks to Andy Lewis, Allocations Committee Chair and other the committee members who reviewed our grant and, especially, Bill Lunney, President of the Foundation for Dane County Parks for his efforts over many years to bring about a program to benefit the Friends groups of Dane County.

From our Board: Gary Nelson, President; Bill Carlson, Vice Pres.; Jeanette Hoard, Sect./Treas.; and Directors Bruce Javenkowski, James Parry, Dennis Connor and Justin Nelson.

09/01/2019

We are doing the brat stand at The Shoe Box on Sunday, Sept. 1st starting at 10 am to 4 or 5 pm--or when we run out of food. As usual, our Friends of Festge special Grill Master, Dan Johnson, will have grilled the brats over his homemade charcoal. At serving time, they will be simmering in a special juice with onions. 😋 They are yummy and you can definitely smell the aroma! We have a few other things too.

Stop by and grab some for a quick lunch or we can put together an order to go for later. We really have a lot of fun doing this. 😀 Jeanette, Dan, Mickey, Gary and Carol.

The Red-headed Woodpecker photos are good considering they like to be higher up on the trees.  And it was sitting still!...
08/27/2019

The Red-headed Woodpecker photos are good considering they like to be higher up on the trees. And it was sitting still! Mira is on the left with Mom, Brenna on the right.

08/27/2019

We had a special volunteer, Mira, working at Festge Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, accompanied by her parents, all the way from northeast Indiana. Mira attends the Chicago Lab School in Chicago. This school kicks off their service to others each year by sending their Sophomore class to work in this area, while staying at a camp in Lake Delton. They have sent a bus to Festge Park since Sept. 2011, missing one year due to flooding of the roads. Last September, several of the students asked to return on their own and work with us to perform their 40 hours of community service.

Mira heard about their experiences (she went to a different site when she came with her class) and decided she wanted to do her service work with us too.

This was her second visit and this time, we met her Mom. Photo is from the Overlook after a long day of tackling Canadian Goldenrod.

On Sunday, Mira and her Dad caught a photo of one of our Red-headed Woodpeckers. When these birds are present, it's an indicator of a healthy woodland savanna and prairie. Jeanette

Untitled Album
08/27/2019

Untitled Album

Yay!  So nice to gain further attention for the Driftless area.
08/27/2019
"Decoding the Driftless" wins top awards in Hollywood

Yay! So nice to gain further attention for the Driftless area.

Decoding the Driftless received Best Picture and Best Cinematography in the Documentary Feature category Saturday at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards (LAIFFA).

Here are a couple of photos taken during an evening prescribed burn  a couple of weeks ago.  One is Gary Nelson in the f...
04/30/2019

Here are a couple of photos taken during an evening prescribed burn a couple of weeks ago. One is Gary Nelson in the foreground and Jim Parry behind him; second is Jim Parry.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, the Cross Plains Lion's Club and the Cross Plains Boy Scout Troop 87 performed their Earth Day...
04/30/2019

On Earth Day, April 22nd, the Cross Plains Lion's Club and the Cross Plains Boy Scout Troop 87 performed their Earth Day service project at Festge Park. For a couple of years, they have been working on a site directly off Scherbel Road, in the northwest part of Festge Park. Lion's Club members, Doc Esser, Bob & Joe Virnig and a couple of others pre-cut brush for hauling. Once the project time was done, the Lion's served hot dogs, brats, chips and salad for all the kids and workers.

We greatly appreciate the continued support by the CP Lion's Club of projects throughout the year, and especially, with the help of Doc Esser. The Scouts have been doing a variety of projects for us for many years, too. Here are some photos of some of the Scouts along with a parent, Bartlett Durand and daughter Gretta who helped, too.
Jeanette

Last September, at the annual kick off service day (at Festge Park) for part of the Sophomore class from the Chicago Lab...
04/30/2019

Last September, at the annual kick off service day (at Festge Park) for part of the Sophomore class from the Chicago Lab School, a few students wondered if they could return on their own to perform their 30-40 hours of community service at Festge Park. We worked out details with the school administrators and had our first weekend of work April 6th and 7th. They drove up Friday night accompanied by a parent and stayed in a hotel two nights. They were all amazing; they worked hard (in the rain on Sunday), were very curious about our work and are coming back again for another weekend of work in May. It was a great experience for all of us; with the parent saying what a beautiful area this is and ready to return again.

On Sunday, Gary put some brats on the grill for their lunch to give them a little more of the Wisconsin experience.

Photos below are of Michelle, John Michael, Nick and Gab. They hauled brush, mixed and sowed seeds, had an educational tour of the Park and were able to watch the Cross Plains fire dept. do a prescribed burn next to us.
Jeanette

Here are some photos from the Operation Fresh Start (OFS) Earth Day, service day, at Festge County Park on Tuesday, Apri...
04/30/2019

Here are some photos from the Operation Fresh Start (OFS) Earth Day, service day, at Festge County Park on Tuesday, April 23rd. There was a short program thanking and supporting the work the crews have done at Festge along with other Dane County Parks. Our County Executive, Joe Parisi, was a tutor for the OFS kids for 10 years.

Note my photos aren't the best but you get the idea of the day. Gary Nelson was holding the PA speaker as well as speaking; next is Lars Higdon; Darren Marsh from Dane County Parks and Joe Parisi.

Jeanette

We are getting two new brush cutters!  The guys are quite happy as we are using them more all the time as an efficient w...
04/30/2019
County Awards 2019 Dane County Environmental Cou... - Dane County Press Releases

We are getting two new brush cutters! The guys are quite happy as we are using them more all the time as an efficient way to get rid of the invasives. Jeanette

Here is a link to the official press release with details of all awards. Other Friends groups also received grants. https://www.countyofdane.com/PressDetail/9725

A Dane County Press Release on 'County Awards 2019 Dane County Environmental Council Grants'. First released on 4/8/2019.

It was a fantastic day, with much accomplished by everyone, during perfect weather. Thanks also to the Dane County Parks...
04/30/2019

It was a fantastic day, with much accomplished by everyone, during perfect weather. Thanks also to the Dane County Parks staff who worked and organized the day: Rhea Stangel-Maier, Lars Higdon, Shane Otto and Micah Kloppenberg.

Jeanette

Thank you to the 60 + volunteers from Operation Fresh Start and the Friends of Festge for a great Earth Day celebration at Festge County Park. It was a beautiful day to be out in the park.

04/24/2019

Today we will be having a prescribed/controlled burn at Festge County Park. Dane County Parks Naturalist Lars Higdon along with Shane Otto will be leading the burn. We are excited to finalize our annual burn that is necessary for prairie restoration and get rid of many invasives.

We have our signs out along the highway and we will be monitoring the burns as usual. Jeanette

03/31/2019

Friends of Festge Park applied for a grant through the Dane County Environmental Council in February, and we have received the full request. YAY! Our grant request is for two brush cutters. We are using them more than ever for clearing and maintenance, especially on the steep and rocky slopes. It is more efficient to go through first with a brush cutter, to cut the smaller stuff and then come back through with a chainsaw to take down the bigger trees. By doing that, the chain sawing is a lot easier in areas of dense thickets...and steep slopes like we have.

Note a chain sawyers nightmare is getting into a thicket and knowing they have to cut their way out...and run out of gas.😱 Add in a steep slope on a cold and wintry day.🤬

For maintenance, we use it on buckthorn and other woody regrowth, emerging garlic mustard, multi-flora rose and raspberries, along with many other invasives plants.

We are very grateful and proud to have this support from the Dane County Environmental Council, a partner to the Dane County Friends groups.

Jeanette

03/31/2019

Spring is here--finally--and it's time to get in our annual Controlled/Prescribed Burn at Festge County Park. Our plan is to burn starting tomorrow, April 1st. Conditions such as wind direction, speed, humidity, etc. have to be right for us to begin. We will have signs out on Hwy. 14 stating we are doing a Controlled Burn. We try to get as much done in one day as possible, which can run into the evening hours. It may start about mid-day.

These burns are necessary for our prairies, maintenance, wildlife and future of Festge Park. Many seeds need fire to sprout; old plants need to be burned off as the roots can go down 15-30 ft. and regrowth may not happen without the old burned. It's how nature works in prairies and savannas. The Oak trees withstand the fire, which is how they survive for hundreds of years. But, they cannot survive with invasive buckthorn taking away it's light and nutrition, nor can a prairie exist with invasives including buckthorn.

If you drive by and notice the signs are out, but see fire, know that it is "controlled", that we have fire breaks around fire units, that we have trained staff conducting the burn, permits are done, etc. As I said, it can go into the evening. Do not call the fire departments or 911 to say someone is burning along Hwy. 14, they know we are burning.

Thank you for understanding and pass this along to anyone you might want to inform about our burn. We cannot plan too far ahead as its strictly weather related.

The main area will be smoky and we ask that visitors do not go into fire units; only trained personnel are allowed.

Jeanette

Winter work at Festge Park included clearing THE steepest slope in the Park.  It's a great feeling to have the thickets ...
03/06/2019

Winter work at Festge Park included clearing THE steepest slope in the Park. It's a great feeling to have the thickets of buckthorn cut, brush piles ready to be burned and a brand new view. From Hwy. 14, it may not look like a big deal, but it truly is steep, and long. This work finishes Phase I, which was started by Gary Nelson in October, 2010. Jeanette

Great to see a study that proves we are effecting more change in the environment than expected.
11/19/2018
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

Great to see a study that proves we are effecting more change in the environment than expected.

New research from the Nelson Institute’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy discovers how grassland conservation and restoration is one of the most impactful and cost effective solutions to mitigate climate change. Dr. Tyler Lark and graduate student Seth Spawn led the analysis of grassland conservation as a natural climate solution. https://bit.ly/2PUtdi1

Address

Cross Plains, WI
53528-0044

General information

President Gary Nelson 608.279.7401 [email protected] Secretary/Treasurer Jeanette Hoard 608.279.3755 [email protected]

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Comments

DO you folks know about this work day? Monroe is helping spearhead the project (creating boot wash stations for Black Earth Creek) and we need bodies to help put these together and place them along the creek. Sign up soon -- and you are eligible for free beer at an after-party! - Bartlett