An exploration down "Old Middleton Creek" in far west Madison

On August 24, Tim Heath and I took a ramble down a drainage way from near his house on Old Middleton Rd.  Tim is a retired biochemist who worked in the Pharmacy Dept. at the UW, Madison.

I'll call the waterway "Old Middleton Creek," because of the prairie and three settling ponds on City property on the west side of Old Middleton Rd.

The ponds recently came to my attention, because 200 trees were cut for construction of two of the ponds--and then, after heavy rain, one of the ponds nearly overflowed before it was finished.  If it had overflowed, a large sediment spill into Lake Mendota would have resulted.  I wanted to see where the sediment would have gone.

We descended from Stonefield Rd along a lovely grassy swale, past a restored prairie on a hillside.

Then we plunged into some woods, where there are trails. 

Soon, we came out near the first sediment pond.  Constructed some years ago, it is now surrounded by lovely prairie flowers.  There's a trail all the way around.

Below the first pond, we passed between two ponds under construction, where 200 trees were cut. 

Below Old Middleton Rd, the way is mostly straight.

After the heavy rains, there was a good flow of fairly clear water. But patterns of vegetation indicate that during dry periods, the creek probably dries up entirely, or a best has only a trickle.Years ago, the channel was dredged in a straight line, with field stones piled on either side.  Now, it is heavily wooded, all the way to Lake Mendota.  In a few places, we had to climb over or under downed trees.

View down creek close to the Lake.  It's mostly quite shallow until after you cross Camelot Dr.

The whole area below Old Middleton Rd seems pretty wild and forgotten, but it was quite disturbed, years ago.  So I wouldn't call it pristine by any measure.  Due to the fact that it dries up during dry weather, it doesn't make very good wildlife habitat, except for raccoons.

The water was fairly clear, without any odor of sewage, and there wasn't much litter.  But there was a lot of sediment washing in from surrounding roads.

A slide show of more photos here.
Photos of construction of settling pond.

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