- Explore Parks
Stricker's Pond lies off Gammon Road on Madison's west side. Thanks to a number of volunteer work days, visitors can see six new species of native emergent wetland plants (pickerel plant, white water lily, hardstem bulrush, bur reed, duck potato, river bulrush). The tuber-planting will restore plants that vanished due to persistent high water levels. Emergent plants, like these tubers, thrive when water levels are 1 to 3 feet deep. High water flooded out these plants; we want to try to bring them back.
Let's go back in time to the formation of the pond. Ten thousand years ago a glacier buried a "chunk" of ice in the earth. When the ice later melted, a "kettle" formed in the void created and filled with water. Historically water levels in the pond would vary from year to year, depending on surface runoff from rainfall or spring snowmelt. Emergent plant cover would increase when water levels were low and decrease when water levels increased. Old air photos show that with low water levels the pond looked more like a marsh, covered with emergent plants and allowing only a small amount of open water in the center.
This dynamic natural cycle provided food and shelter for a diverse wildlife community. In the spring and fall, it is still heavily used by migrating waterfowl.
The pond system started to change with agricultural cultivation of the surrounding uplands in the 1870's. Runoff increased, adding sedimentation from cultivated crop fields. More dramatic changes occurred even more recently when the landscape was converted to residential development. That brought a huge increase in impervious surfaces (areas which don't allow water to infiltrate, such as sidewalks, streets, driveways, house roofs), and so increased the amount of storm water reaching the pond. Finally, a series of high annual precipitation totals in the 1990's increased water levels dramatically.
Because Stricker's Pond and nearby Tiedeman's Pond (in the City of Middleton) do not have natural outlets, the water only had one place to go ... up. Water depth at Stricker's Pond was 6-8 feet and the pond looked like pea soup because of excessive algae growth. Emergent plants vanished and 200-year-old oak trees succumbed to high water levels. The loss of these plants and trees meant we lost the food and cover needed by resident wildlife.
City Of Madison and City of Middleton staff worked together, creating a plan of action to deal with these issues. Staff encouraged input from the public. The plan created includes construction of a drainage outlet. This will allow staff to control water levels in both ponds. Stricker's Pond is 10 feet higher than Tiedeman's Pond, so an outlet pipe was installed between the ponds allowing control of the water flow out of Stricker's Pond. At Tiedeman's Pond a large pump was installed. This pump lifts the water into a force main which conveys it under Gammon Rd. and Park St. and from there into a gravity-drained storm water system. The water then drains into Lake Mendota.
Now we have some measure of control over the water levels. Both municipalities are working to restore native plant and animal communities in and around the ponds. We may not be able to restore these natural systems to pristine conditions, but through active stewardship we can improve them immensely, to the benefit of both people and wildlife.
Features 0.8 miles of trails.