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Public input meetings planned for Riverway Map project
Lower Wisconsin Riverway
Professor Gartner and Christina Dennis
CHRISTINA DENNIS (center), a senior in the UW-Madison Geography Department, is working on a map of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway that portrays its cultural and social history. The map will be Dennis' senior project. Seen with her is her academic advisor, Professor William Garner (left) and FLOW president Timm Zumm.

LOWER WISCONSIN RIVER - Members of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board (LWSRB) learned that a project to create a cultural and heritage map of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway is nearing completion. The final step in the process will be two public input meetings planned for Spring Green and Boscobel.

The Spring Green meeting will coincide with the next LWSRB meeting at the Spring Green Public Library on September 8, beginning at 5 p.m. The location, date and time of the Boscobel meeting is to be determined.

The map is being developed by a UW-Madison student. Christina Dennis, a senior in the Department of Geography. Dennis developed the map as her senior project.

According to Dennis’ advisor for the project, Dr. William Gartner, UW-Madison professor in the Geography Department, the project has been a long-held dream of his. Gartner said that the project will be based in a ‘global information system mapping’ (GIS) format, and converted into a three-dimensional (3D) format using the ‘hillshade’ function. The hillshade function produces a grayscale, 3D representation of a terrain surface, with the sun's relative position taken into account for shading the image. 

“After she develops the basic layer with GIS and the hillshade function, then she will add in various layers to show different features in the Riverway,” Gartner explained. “So for instance, there will be a river layer, a roads and major towns layer, a public lands layer, and so forth.”

Ultimately, the map will be available to users of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway to download. 

 “Users of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway will be able to reap several important things by downloading the map,” Gartner explained. “First, the map will enrich their experience in the Riverway by giving them a cultural understanding of the landscape they are in. Second, because the map is GIS-based, it will be an important safety tool, allowing Riverway users to better identify their exact location on the river in case of an emergency.”

Director’s report

Mark Cupp, LWSRB Executive Director provided a brief report to the board. He said that he has been contacted by a group, the Upper Wisconsin River Trail Project, about an effort to create a river trail on the Upper Wisconsin River (above the Prairie du Sac Dam) that could connect to the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. He said that he has been invited to speak to the group at an upcoming meeting in Wausau.

Cupp also told the board that the River has experienced below normal flows throughout the month of July and into early August. He said that recent rainfall had raised river levels to ‘above average,’ but still nothing to compare to the sustained high water experienced in 2021.

In other business

In other business, the board

• heard that board member Ritchie Brown is currently working on pursuing passage of a resolution through the Ho Chunk Nation General Council calling for extension of the Effigy Mounds National Monument from Iowa into Wisconsin. He told the board that he believes such a move would offer more protection to remaining mounds in Wisconsin

• heard that the recent Voyageur Canoe Trips had served 120 people, and had enjoyed an enthusiastic response

• heard that Cupp had recently responded to a request by American Players Theatre staff to address issues with internet reception presented by a tree on the Riverside Resort property. Cupp said that he did not authorize removal of the tree, but did authorize some trimming that he believes will address the problem

• heard from WDNR Forester Mike Finley that it is the ‘re-set time’ of the year for his team, and that there are still quite a few vacancies on the forestry team. He said they had just had their Riverway Quarterly Report, and that team members report duck banding by the wildlife team, and various maintenance projects

• Timm Zumm of Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) reminded the board that there would be a joint FLOW/WDNR work day at the Blue River Sand Barrens the coming Saturday.

• Zumm also told the board about the Lake Naming Contest being offered by FLOW to name a borrow pit lake in the Riverway that is currently unnamed. He said the winning name would be forwarded to the State of Wisconsin as a recommended name, and the winner would win $100. To enter, go to:

• Zumm and Cupp discussed the need to ‘keep evangelizing’ about river safety, as the recent drowning of a kayaker in the backwaters demonstrated. Cupp said the kayaker had a life vest in his kayak, but was not wearing it.