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Water Trail

A collection of balls form Spring Creek Laurie Kautz receiving on the job chainsaw training in the creek from Fred Hofmann Fred Hofmann with a boat load of trash from Spring Creek

 

Spring Creek

 

2010 Spring – Summer
Spring Creek Clean Up

 

It is indeed spring once again. And once again, Spring Creek needs some cleaning.

If you haven’t attempted to paddle Spring Creek from Goeres Park to Lake Wisconsin, please do take this pleasant float. At last count, September ’09, there were five obstructions on the creek that would require and exit from your canoe and the need to carry around or over those obstructions. This spring and summer, the intent is to remove those final obstructions to increase the pleasure of a Spring Creek float trip. In order to turn that intent into a reality, volunteers will be required. So please do spend some of your valuable time investing in a fine recreational resource right here in the Lodi Valley. In the past voluteer days have usually occurred on Saturday mornings. This year we will attempt to reward our volunteers with some Sunday afternoon cleanups followed by brats and liquid refreshments. Also do remember, the friends of the Scenic Lodi Valley do now have a fully operational chain saw winch capable of pulling up to 4000 pounds. What this means to volunteers is no more heavy lifting. So come on out for a more leisurely creek cleanup. Spring Creek cleanup dates follow:

For all dates meet at the fisherman’s parking lot by the Second Bridge on 113 north of Lodi. All Sunday Cleanups will be followed by drinks and brats and food at Fred Hofmann’s home. W11355 High Point Road, Okee 592-4202 cell 370-4202.

Sun May 23 12:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Sun. June 27 12:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Sat. July 24 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM
Sun. Aug. 22 12:00 PM- 4:30 PM
Sat. Sept.23 9:00 AM – 1:30PM

Please bring water and perhaps a snack. Also a loppers may be helpful. Be prepared to be wet and muddy and careful.

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The water that flows through the parks of Lodi enters from the marsh to the south. From the slow meandering of the creek through this spring fed marsh flow cool clean waters suitable for brown trout to live, spawn and survive generation after generation. This cool, clean swift stream has been flowing through the Lodi Valley since the last Ice Age. It has quenched the thirst and served the needs of inhabitants of our small intimate valley ever since. Bison and wolves and perhaps wooly mammoths may have all stood on the banks of Spring Creek to drink. The creek remains. It still flows outward to the great Wisconsin River. Flowing through Goeres Park, babbling over rubble and gravel shallows, the creek makes an uncommon straight run past the city wastewater treatment facility. Here it begins to meander once again under a canopy of oak, box elder and cottonwood. Through this section collect the many plastic soda bottles and containers from a wide assortment of other sweet and salty treats discarded by junk food consumers who visit the park areas. Here too collect the softballs from many summers of play. Nature too begins to contribute to the clutter of the creek just down stream from the treatment plant. Deadfall lies bank to bank in the bends of the creek as it leaves the City of Lodi and snakes its way under County Highway J and through broad pasture land and swings straight and fast past Webster Bluff just north of town. This slope rises rapidly with its cover of oaks. Here, below Webster Bluff, is a favorite stretch of trout water for anglers.

The creek swings west under the first of two bridges north of town on Highway 113. A few dozen paddle strokes downstream from the bridge begins a twisted fortress of logs, sticks and debris. This, the result of years of eviction notices imposed on trees by stream bank erosion and creek beds attempting to cope with flood force waters. Here a paddle and canoe cease being useful transport and become baggage to be transported across the oxbow shape of the land. The frequency and length of these deadfall zones test the patience of almost any paddler. Abandonment of the quest to reach the Wisconsin and seek the convenience of a portage to the road and a hike back to town is the preference of almost all. However if determination can over rule frustration a lengthy portage through muck and weeds can yield a short stretch of open water as the creek swings back to the east under the second of the two Highway 113 bridges. From here the route to the river is far less obstructed.

Once under the bridge, a canoe partner can lift smaller limbs that shimmy on the water’s surface, allowing the canoe to pass. Some obstructions just past the bridge require a dip into the creek and a giant step and a lift of the canoe to navigate through. A few more such blocks downstream can be similarly defeated. Just downstream from the 113 bridge, the creek is framed by giant cut limestone blocks on the vertical and a black iron railroad bridge on the horizontal well above the creek. A mostly open stretch of water lies ahead until the creek picks up speed and turns slightly right and then left. At this point, another logjam has set up a toll and charges extra effort and inconvenience to pass. Canoes must be pulled up out of the creek through a bit of muck and around trees and through nettles and back into the creek. Another relatively free ride is available past this point. When it ends, a cottonwood of impressive girth halts progress as it lies prostrate bank to bank. Up against this barrier has gathered reinforcements of lesser ranking logs along with sticks, assorted manufactured goods from buckets to ice chests to bedsprings. Again navigation must be deserted and a land route sought.

Once again, canoes are afloat and drifting downstream. A farm bridge that crosses the stream tells paddlers to stay left to catch the chute through a short rubble ridge in the creek. From here, one last logjam remains to the river. A free floating section of stream takes the paddler past banks that slowly and continually increase in height. This last significant obstruction lies about half way through this high bank area. It requires the final portage. The high banks, lined with cottonwoods and oaks, provide deep cool shade, and begin to taper off as a sliver of Okee Bay comes into view. The last clearly visible channel of Spring Creek passes by a cattailed bank as it empties into the bay and open water.

In the spring of 2002, The Friends of the Scenic Lodi Valley began a project to enable canoeists to float down Spring Creek from Haberman Park to Okee Bay. The project required that enough deadfall and debris be removed to slip a canoe past each and every existing obstruction. Debris was not removed from bank to bank because of its value to trout habitat.

An organization in Dane County, Capital Water Trails, that has conducted many such projects, advised and assisted in the first few workdays. The Aldo Leopold Chapter of Trout Unlimited also assisted in the effort. Some local residents, not associated with ‘ the Friends ‘, aided in the project. The description of Spring Creek given in the introduction of this article is no longer accurate. The experience a paddler would have now is far better and almost free of the frustration of encountering obstruction in the route to the Wisconsin. There remain but a few barriers to a smooth and pleasant canoe trip from Haberman Park clear through to Okee Bay. Over the course of the summer and perhaps the fall of 2005 this project will be completed.

The length of the trip by river is approximately six to seven miles. After a crossing of Okee Bay to the boat landing in Okee will likely make the trip a two and a half to three hour tour through a beautiful cross section of the landscape of the scenic Lodi Valley.

We in the ‘Friends’ hope that the results of this project will be, for many residents, a first hand opportunity to experience the value of and to grow a deep sense of appreciation for one of the communities greatest assets. We in turn hope that this experience creates man y voices for the protection of the creek as it continues to be impacted by the runoff from past and continuing development and from the results of agricultural practices.

Fred Hofmann (fjhofokeebay@charter.net)
Team Leader – Spring Creek Water Trail Team
Friends of the Scenic Lodi Valley