Waubesa Wetlands

Assessing Land Use Effects and Promoting Community Engagement in the Waubesa Wetlands Watershed

2017 – 2018 Water Resources Management Practicum

Waubesa Wetlands are a 150-hectare state natural area located on the southwestern toe of Lake Waubesa in Dane County, Wisconsin. These high-quality wetlands have unique hydrogeology, are extremely diverse, support many rare plants and animals, and provide important ecosystem services. The upstream land that drains to the wetlands, through Swan and Murphy’s creeks, has current and future land development that could affect the ecological integrity of the wetlands. Therefore, the 2017-18 Water Resources Management cohort worked to understand the current conditions of the Waubesa Wetlands watershed. Our methods included monitoring the water quality of the streams feeding the wetlands, and assessing ecosystem services like flood abatement, sediment retention, wildlife habitat, and nutrient reduction. We then modeled future development, land use change, and climate to understand how the watershed could be impacted under different scenarios. Additionally, we worked to engage community members and watershed residents through an informational website, outreach events, and the creation of a Friends of Waubesa Wetlands group. Ultimately, we provided recommendations for how watershed land use can be planned and managed to protect the wetlands.