Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed

The Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed is a local organization, and chapter of Rock River Coalition, working towards improving the environmental, economic, cultural and recreational resources within their local community.

In 2006, Caroline Werner of Oregon, WI, learned that Badfish Creek was in need of protection and quickly got the word out to area residents. Those intrigued by the idea—paddlers, landowners, environmentally concerned citizens—started meeting to discuss what could be done to protect the creek. And because they decided to address the health of the land through which the creek flows as well as its water quality, they chose the name Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed (FBCW) for this fledgling group.

Learning about the creek—from the history of its unusual name, to changes wrought by the 1959 addition of treated effluent from Madison, to the creek’s popularity as a paddling route—was the group’s first task. They hosted public education programs led by stream experts like Biologist Jeffrey Steven of Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Pete Jopke of Dane County Parks and Lands, Wisconsin Hydrogeologist Ken Bradbury, UW-Madison Limnology student Matthew Diebel, and UW-Madison professor Cal DeWitt.

Getting to know a creek better also means getting wet. Between Cooksville and the Yahara, the Badfish is a delightful canoe route, and upstream of Cooksville, the creek runs through a wildlife area. To get folks out on the water, Plan Committee member and paddler Lynne Diebel and Oregon Observer Editor Bill Livick (who paddles the Badfish several times a week in season) helped Caroline organize canoe tours in 2007 and 2008. The canoe tour is now a cherished FBCW tradition.

To establish a data base of information about the Badfish, Lynne has been monitoring the creek monthly since spring of 2007. At a site by the Riley Road bridge crossing, she measures the water temperature, clarity and dissolved oxygen. In spring and fall, she collects macroinvertebrates (bugs!) from the stream bed as another measure of stream health.

Watershed protection works best when groups work together. In 2007, Caroline’s efforts led to FBCW becoming the first chapter of the Rock River Coalition. (The Badfish feeds the Yahara River which in turn feeds the Rock River.) FBCW is currently working with the River Alliance’s Laura McFarland on a project to identify and eradicate invasive riverbank plants. And the group collaborates with Ecologically Concerned Oregon Students (ECOS), led by Oregon High School science teacher Chris Cowan.

FBCW Plan Committee member Sharon Beall organized the group’s first annual stream cleanup, held in September 2008. Funds for the cleanup came from a grant from the Community Partners Program of the Dane County Environmental Council and from local businesses. About 45 stream lovers—scout troops, ECOS and 4-H members, and others—converged on Butter Factory Creek, a small, clear tributary of the Badfish which runs through Thomson Park in Oregon. FBCW Plan Committee member Jim Danky spoke about the creek’s history. Scott Taylor, FBCW’s Treasurer, prepped the kids on cleanup safety. In just over an hour, the enthusiastic crew gathered four huge plastic bags of trash, a big pile of scrap iron, and a long silt fence from the stream bed. All the youth volunteers received official cleanup t-shirts, funded by Stoughton Hospital. Refreshments donated by the 4-H group and several local businesses helped make the event a celebration.

Future events will include more public education programs, a spring cleanup event on another reach of the Badfish, the invasive plants eradication project, the stream monitoring project, and of course the annual canoe tour.

All events are open to the public. To get involved, contact Lynne Diebel at

The Badfish Creek Watershed is located primarily in south central Dane County, extending into Northern Rock County. It contains both federal and state protected lands.

Maps of the Watershed

Badfish Creek Watershed Topo Map (PDF)

Badfish Creek Map of Land Cover (PDF)

Links to More Information

2012-2017 Dane County Parks & Open Space Plan

The portion of Badfish Creek Watershed in Dane County is now in the Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Watershed Information – contains a wealth of information about the watershed

Badfish Creek Wildlife Area (PDF) – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Aquatic Plant Management-Badfish Creek (PDF) – from the Aquatic Plant Management Society

Local Landfill Near Badfish Creek – Public Health Assessment, City Disposal Corporation Landfill (A/K/A City Disposal Sanitary Landfill), Dunn Township, Dane County, Wisconsin

The creek gets pretty wild and curvy around Cooksville. This can make for a pretty exciting paddle!

2006 Dane County Waters Assessment (PDF)

Dane County Wetland Resources Management Guide

Outfall Around Madison Lakes – an article about the Badfish from 1959! (pdf)

Japanese Knotweed at Riley Road Project-2014

The Japanese Knotweed project at Riley Road comes to a close this October (2014) with planting of native grass plugs from Agrecol. Thanks to our wonderful volunteer crew, the Friends planted 1200 native grass plugs from Agrecol today! And Agrecol donated one-third of those. Six different native grasses: Virginia wild rye, little bluestem, sideoats grama, switch grass and cord grass.

FBCW Presented with Protector Award from the Rock River Coalition

Lynne Diebel and Caroline Werner were presented the prestigious Protector Award for their many years of great efforts to protect the environment in the Badfish Creek Watershed.

Japanese Knotweed at Riley Road Project-2012

The knotweed is well on its way to being gone thanks to the vigilance of the Friend’s continued efforts in injecting and spraying. Now the challenge becomes controlling other invasive plants such as garlic mustard which are opportunistically moving in.

Japanese Knotweed at Riley Road Project- 2011

Great weather for the workday in October! The best news was that work done in previous years paid dividends in the scarcity of plants to treat. The successful two-prong approach was continued this fall: Spray the younger plants and inject those with stems large enough to get the needle into.

Japanese Knotweed at Riley Road Project-2010

We cut in June 2010 at Riley Road, foliar sprayed with glyphosate in July, foliar sprayed in September with Milestone, injected in October with Milestone. Scott recommends Milestone foliar spray when leafed out in spring (May or June). Lynne will monitor the stuff and update the group by email.


Japanese Knotweed at Riley Road Project-2009

Thanks to a $3,257 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) grant from the Wisconsin DNR, the Friends are partnering with the River Alliance of Wisconsin and the Rock River Coalition to eradicate the invasive Japanese knotweed at the Riley Road crossing of the Badfish.

Click here for WI DNR information on Japanese knotweed

April Knotweed Removal Party a Success-2009

On April 18, 2009, twenty-two volunteers–from Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin, River Alliance, Dane County Conservation League, Mad City Paddlers, Stoughton Boy Scout Troop 167, and other volunteers–worked with FBCW to cut and drag dead knotweed stalks to the landowner’s farm field where he burned them. A big THANK YOU goes out to our wonderful volunteers.

FBCW’s 2ND Annual Stream Cleanup-2009

On May 9, 2009, three girl scouts, two moms and a boy scout with his little brother and mom joined three members of the FBCW Plan Committee to clean the entire culvert and creek in Oregon’s Jaycee Park. The kids enjoyed the event, the cookies, the brownies and the juice, and the highlight for the girl scouts was finding a large leech that they named Fred; with adult encouragement, Fred was returned to the culvert before they left. Sharon Beall also collected six bags of debris from along the railroad and the creek from the railroad overpass to Kwik Trip.

MMSD Public Information Meeting hosted by FBCW-2009

May 21, 2009, Cooksville Community Center

David Taylor of the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) presented a brief overview of MMSD’s 50-Year Plan, focusing on potential effects on Badfish Creek, and then opened the meeting to questions.

FBCW’s 3rd Annual Canoe Tour-2009

On August 15, 2009, 20 canoeists and kayakers from Stoughton, Oregon, Evansville, Horicon and Madison enjoyed a sunny day paddling down the Badfish, from the County Road 138 bridge north of Cooksville to Casey Road. Thanks to all who attended. And my sincere apologies to those who couldn’t attend because I failed to post the details on this Web site. Lynne Diebel

Where to find us!

The Badfish Creek Watershed is located primarily in south central Dane County, extending into Northern Rock County. It contains both federal and state protected lands.

Facebook: Friends of Badfish Creek
Rock River Coalition website: 
Email: Lynne Diebel, 

Check out our informational brochure below!

Current Projects:

Water Quality Testing: E.Coli on the Badfish

  • Two-year study (2020-2021) of E.coli levels in the Badfish, with Microbial Source Tracking at Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene to determine the E.coli source: human or animal. Data will be used to encourage policy changes.

Stream Monitoring: Rock River Coalition Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program

Stream Clearing: Debris and brush for navigable waters

Highway Clean Up: Roadside efforts to support healthy waterways

Learn more. Please email us your inquiries