Volunteers monitoring Token Creek in Dane County named 2022 Wisconsin Stream Monitoring Award recipients

Two volunteers smile at camera standing alongside a snowy creek on a sunny day.
Stream monitoring volunteers Barb Bauer and Paula Brandmeier at Token Creek in Dane County

Barb Bauer and Paula Brandmeier began monitoring water quality at three sites along Token Creek in Dane County in 2016, when they were asked by the Rock River Coalition to help collect data on the stream. For 7 months of the year, they visit the stream to measure water temperature, water transparency, and dissolved oxygen, and collect nutrient samples every month and often through the winter to assess the levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment flowing through the creek.

This year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are pleased to name Barb Bauer and Paula Brandmeier the 2022 Wisconsin Stream Monitoring Award winners. They were selected for their commitment to long term stream monitoring, dedication to engaging others in the stewardship and restoration of the stream, and commitment to developing partnerships in the watershed to benefit the stream and downstream waters.

“They are generous with their time, and their passion for healthy waters has led them to go above and beyond in caring and advocating for Token Creek and its watershed” said Addie Schlussel, Aquatic Invasive Species and Stream Monitoring Coordinator with the Rock River Coalition. Token Creek is a productive and important spring-fed trout stream that flows into the Yahara River and then into Lake Mendota, contributing more of the water flowing into Lake Mendota than any of the lake’s other tributaries. As a result of these abundant springs, Token Creek has a large impact on the health of its downstream waters.

In addition to monitoring the creek, Bauer and Brandmeier have served as dedicated members of the Token Creek Conservancy Committee with the Village of Windsor for a combined 33 years. In this time, they helped to develop a Master Plan for the Conservancy, whose mission includes protecting environmentally sensitive resources in the Token Creek watershed. “We love the native orchids and cattails in the undisturbed sedge meadow – our favorite aquatic plant though is watercress, and we do have a ton of it!”

Bauer and Brandmeier have many reasons why they stay involved. “We both enjoy our mornings together while testing, doing our part to help the river and Madison lakes, and hiking up the creek and tributaries to locate areas that could use improvement.” They also enjoy “watching how the water quality has changed over the years, how the weather and seasons affect the water quality, and sharing our findings with others,” such as talking to farmers in the Token Creek watershed on using natural barriers to prevent chemicals and fertilizers from running off into the water.

In their work to build community action for the health of the watershed, they volunteer with the Token Creek Watershed Association and lead stream stewardship efforts at Token Creek Conservancy, including volunteer work parties focused on controlling invasive species in and around the stream. Over the years, they built long-standing partnerships with local churches and community groups to accomplish this work together.

Bauer, a retired Windsor Elementary School teacher, has volunteered to facilitate nature learning activities for DeForest Area School District elementary students at Token Creek Conservancy’s Big Hill Learning Center. When asked if they have advice to others who want to protect their local stream or river, they wrote “Anyone interested in protecting their local stream or river should monitor if possible, educate others on protection of water because it is such a valuable resource, and keep nature alive in schools! Kids are our future!”

Congratulations Barb and Paula on receiving this award!