Wingra Watershed Reading List

An Annotated Selection of Some of the Best About the Watershed

There are countless books that explore the natural wonders of Wisconsin and our watershed and this list is a small subset of those.   These volumes from my bookshelf are just some of those that have helped shape my understanding of the natural history of the Lake Wingra Watershed.  I hope you find the recommendations to be interesting reading and helpful.  Let me know your favorites and give me suggestions for additions to our Wingra Watershed reading list.

The recommended books are by Wisconsin home-grown talent, and many of the writers are, or were,  residents of the Lake Wingra Watershed.  The authors explore the watershed’s  natural history, and its social, cultural, and ecological fabric through the lenses of poetry, history, plant ecology, anthropology, geology, hydrology and philosophical essays.

Listed in alphabetical order by author:

Birmingham, Robert A. 2010. “Spirits of Earth, The Effigy Mound Landscape of Madison and the Four Lakes.” The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.  Birmingham explains that the effigy mounds of the Four Lakes region that we take for granted are unique in the world and have a global significance. In this guidebook and interpretation of the Madison and Lake Wingra Watershed effigy mounds, Birmingham theorizes about the spiritual meaning of the mounds to the native Americans who constructed them.

Chapman, Robin. 2011. The Eelgrass Meadow, Poems by Robin Chapman. “ Tebot Bach, Huntington Beach, California.  This wonderful collection written by a UW-Madison poet/scientist takes a natural history perspective and ranges widely over the globe.

Curtis, John T. 1959. “The Vegetation of Wisconsin, An Ordination of Plant Communities” University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.  This classic, and groundbreaking study of the composition and distribution of Wisconsin plant communities was intended for scholars of plant community ecology but was written in a way that makes it accessible to all citizens of Wisconsin.

Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association (DMNA) 1999. “Exploring the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association. Madison, WI.  This is a useful and helpful self-guided walking or biking tour of the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood and its natural, cultural, and historic landmarks.

Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sand County Almanac, With Essays on Conservation from Round River.” Ballantine Books, New York.  Essential reading for all citizens. Sand County Almanac has a global ecological and cultural scope seen through a Wisconsin lens. If you’ve read it before, read it again. If you have not, do so soon.

Mickelson, D. M., L. J. Maher, Jr., and S. L. Simpson. 2011. “Geology of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail”, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.  Although this fine field guide covers all of Wisconsin, it has sections on Dane County that help one understand the geologic forces that shaped our Wingra Watershed landscape.

Sachse, Nancy. 1965. “A Thousand Ages” Regents of the University of Wisconsin Revised Edition, 1974. This is the classic history of the formative years of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum from 1934 to 1965. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what she sees on the ground today.

Shy, Shoshauna. 2003. “Lake Wingra Morning, Poems of the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood” Selected and Introduced by Shoshauna Shy. Woodrow Hall Editions in partnership with the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association, Madison, WI. The Wingra Watershed is richly blessed with poets. This collection features the work of a dozen poets who write about the pleasures of life in the DMNA.

Stark, Sandy. 2010. “Counting on Birds” Poems. Fireweed Press, Madison, WI.  Sandy is a wise and keen observer of the natural world and of humans who are a part of it. In this first collection, Sandy also exhibits not just appreciation for, but also deep understanding of, her topics.

Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. 2003. “Waters of Wisconsin, the future of our aquatic ecosystems and resources.” A report of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, Madison, WI. From the book jacket: “Over the last three years, the Waters of Wisconsin initiative has involved hundreds of citizens and water experts in a comprehensive review of the state of our waters, and the many challenges we face in keeping them plentiful and healthy. This report provides recommendations on water policy, education, and monitoring, and the need for a water ethic to guide our decisions and sustain our waters.”


About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (#0093 SER) and writer living in the Midwestern United States.
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