Dane County Watershed Network
Dane County is blessed with not only 69 named lakes, 475 miles of streams and rivers and more than 52,000 acres of wetlands, but also thousands of people who care deeply about protecting, improving and enjoying these resources today and long into the future. Likewise, the Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds has a history of bringing these many people together to share solutions to the variety of challenges they all face, through monitoring, strategic partnering, capacity building, volunteer coordination and more. Through the Dane County Watershed Network, organizations with a connection to lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and more share ideas, solve problems and learn from each other.
Watershed Network Gatherings
One way the Dane County Watershed Network connects, learns, and collaborates is through a series of Watershed Network Gatherings held throughout the year. Drawing on the strengths within the broader community (including non-profits, government agencies, and educational institutions), these collaborative and dynamic events are designed by community groups and leaders to address topics identified by network participants as necessary for them to craft strategic goals, improve organizational performance and implement priority projects. Each gathering has a different “design team” to tap into experiences and suggestions from many individuals and organizations throughout the county. Ideas, innovations and best practices are shared at each session so that participants can be inspired about ongoing work that they may not have heard about. Participants also have time to network and talk with one another about specific needs they have that another group might be able to help with, share resources and ideas, and feature upcoming events. Attendees help decide what topics will be covered and help plan future agendas.
All Watershed Network Gatherings (WNGs) are free of charge and are open to all groups in Dane County regardless of geographic location or number of members. WNGs strive to connect volunteer groups to share and collaborate. Over 75 different groups have attended these gatherings.
Check out our event calendar to find out when the next Watershed Network Gathering is. We also post announcements and reminders about these gatherings on Facebook, Twitter and the Dane County Watershed Network Newsletter.
Past gatherings have included topics such as fundraising, social marketing and behavior change, and watershed literacy. A full list of past Watershed Network Gathering topics as well as presentations and resources shared at the Gatherings can be found in our online resources folder (Google Drive).
"Because of the Watershed Network Gatherings, I now have a community of like-minded individuals like myself who are committed to improving the health of the Yahara Watershed. I'm chair of a very small committee in a large, diverse friends group, and this connection is vital, instructive and supportive to what I do." -Stefanie Brouwer, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy
Yahara River Watershed Partnerships Summit
On April 9, 2016, fifty-four individuals from twenty-six different water-related groups and partner organizations gathered in Waunakee for the Yahara Watershed Partnerships Summit. The purpose of the Summit was to bring together water-related groups in the Yahara River basin to encourage collaboration, develop a shared vision for the long-term future of the Yahara Watershed, and align our efforts. The event was planned by a diverse group of water-related organizations throughout Dane County and coordinated by UW-Extension and the Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds in the Department of Land and Water Resources.
The Summit commenced with keynote speakers Dan Zerr (Natural Resource Educator, UW-Extension) and Ron Vendon (President, Tainter Menomin Lake Improvement Association, Inc.) who shared their experience with forming a water quality partnership group, with a diverse number of local partners, in the Red Cedar River Watershed. After the keynote, a number of sessions highlighted examples of successful collaboration and innovative projects in Dane County, including the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (WINs) project, the Friends of Lake Wingra’s watershed management planning process, and the Latino Earth Partnership program, as well as many other examples. Summit attendees also had the opportunity to network around specific topics and develop a plan for collaboration toward common goals.
With over 30+ water-related groups and many additional local partners in Dane County, opportunities for collaboration, like this Summit, are critical for helping groups to align their efforts, share knowledge and resources, and collaborate to protect and improve local water resources. These groups will continue to meet and collaborate on a regular basis at smaller scale Watershed Network Gatherings held throughout the year in Dane County.
Presentations and resources from the Summit are available online (Google Drive).