Dane County Water Recreation Study


Water Recreation in Dane County
Photo courtesy of Michael Rothschild

The Dane County Water Recreation Study (2010-2013) (PDF) summarizes the results of three surveys conducted by the UW-River Falls Survey Research Center for the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department between 2010 and 2013. The purpose of these surveys was to determine how Dane County residents are utilizing the recreational water resources available to them, examine the geographic dispersion of Dane County water resource users, and to quantify the economic impact that a subset of water-recreation activities have on the Dane County economy. Some of the findings from the surveys are listed below. Read the report for a full summary of findings.

Participation in Water-Related Activities

  • The survey found that nearly 60% of respondents said they participate in activities near Dane County waters (includes running and walking).
  • Approximately one-fifth or more of the respondents said that in a typical year they use Dane County waters to walk on the frozen lakes, swim, canoe/kayak, fish from shore, fish from a boat, or ice skate.
  • The average Dane County resident, based on this sample, participates in between two and three water-related activities in a typical year.

Who is using the Madison Lakes?

65% of lake users surveyed were from Dane County while 35% were from outside the county.

How are People Using the Lakes?

When interviewed about their primary activity on the lakes, 33% were fishing from a boat, 25% were kayaking or canoeing, 15% were motor-boating, 13% were fishing from the shore, 4% were sailing, and 8% were participating in other activities, including water skiing, activities near water, jet skiing, rowing, swimming, and ice fishing.

Why are People Choosing Dane County Water Resource Areas?

Reason for Choosing Dane County Water Resources

Economic Impact of Boating and Fishing

The estimated annual impact of motor-boating and fishing from a boat are:

  • Nearly 800 jobs created/sustained
  • $24.5 million in labor income
  • $40 million added to the Dane County economy
  • More than $65 million of total economic activity (mostly labor income and profits)