Hi! I’m Samantha Haas, and I joined Mad City Dream Homes as a photographer and writer in 2017 when our team had just started partnering with a local nonprofit called the Foundation for Dane County Parks. Through that collaboration, I have been able to document what it’s like to explore many of these special parks, forests, trails, and wildlife areas throughout the Madison area.
Several members of our team -- and their dogs -- have been enjoying these parks, too! For example, Shelley Lazzareschi recently brought her dog, Tucker, to join our team meeting at Mendota County Park in Middleton, where we can take a break from our screens and enjoy the beautiful summer weather while social distancing.
Ann Raschein likes to go to Capital Springs Recreation Area/Lunney Lake Farm County Park near Lake Waubesa in Madison to let her Bernese Mountain dog run around. “Jackson and I love the Capital Springs park! The mature trees, prairie style landscape, and variety of birds add so much beauty to our walks. It is common to see Jackson laying in the parking lot because he just doesn't want to leave!” Ann said.
On the west side of Dane County, Dan Miller’s family and their lab mix, Chewy, visit the trails at Indian Lake County Park near Cross Plains. “I really appreciate Indian Lake for its beautiful views and varied landscape. It has the lake, prairie, woods, and hilltop views all in one beautiful park,” Dan said. “It’s a wonderful place to slow down and connect with nature.”
You can’t live much closer to a Dane County Park than Maureen Moran at Woodcreek Village in Middleton, who is lucky to have the Pheasant Branch Conservancy essentially in her backyard. “Not only do we love the walking paths and the sounds of the cranes and birds, we also adore seeing our neighbors walk by, chat, and appreciate all that beauty. Our grandpups, Potato and Freedom, have enjoyed the paths, too,” Maureen said.
It’s hard to choose which park has been my favorite, because it seems like it’s always the next one I discover. Tracy Kapela and I are still on the hunt for the best places to hammock, although a sturdy grove of trees at Mendota County Park and next to Black Earth Creek at Salmo Pond County Park so far top our list!
I typically travel up north for a birding and nature festival each spring, but this year it was canceled due to the pandemic -- so I explored more around Dane County, instead. I have been pleasantly surprised at the biodiversity and interesting landscapes that this area has to offer. And I’ve felt so grateful to have these natural resources close by to go for a walk, get some fresh air, listen to the birds, and destress during these challenging times.
Here are just a few of my favorite Dane County Park photos -- a collection that I’m looking forward to growing during each of Wisconsin’s beautiful seasons. We hope to see you out there!
Submit your photos!
Parks and natural areas play a critical role in our physical and emotional health. The Foundation for Dane County Parks is collecting photos and stories about how Dane County Parks play a role in community member well-being. These stories will help support and protect the parks for years to come!
To share your photos and stories, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. By submitting the photo(s) and story, you give the Foundation permission to use them for their communications efforts. Please include the park location and your name (requests for anonymity must be clearly stated).