Have you ever fished Black Earth Creek? As many fly fishers know, Black Earth Creek is a high-quality Class I trout stream with a national reputation for the quality of its fishing. The stream has been rated as one of the 100 best trout streams in the nation by Trout Unlimited and is recognized as one of the most productive wild brown trout streams in Wisconsin. Lands owned by the Department of Natural Resources and public fishing easements along creeks in the valley provide public access and protect important wildlife habitat.
As its name suggests, the Black Earth valley farmland is also very rich. This prime farmland with its family farms and wetland areas characterize the valley floor. Steep slopes frame the valley and feature prairie remnants and oak savannas on the southern slopes, with mixed forest on the north slopes.
The valley encompasses a landscape of approximately 20,000 acres and includes the villages of Cross Plains, Black Earth, and Mazomanie. Two main tributaries, Vermont Creek and Garfoot Creek, feed into Black Earth Creek as it makes its way to the Wisconsin River. Since 2001, Groundswell has protected 1,000 acres of land in the valley through the purchase of land and conservation easements.
More land conservation projects are in the works, as Groundswell continues to collaborate with local landowners and communities to protect the lands and waters of the Black Earth Creek valley. Important partners in our conservation work at the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the Dane County Conservation Fund, Trout Unlimited, Ice Age Trail Alliance, and Gateway to the Driftless.
To visit Black Earth Creek valley: drive between Cross Plains and Mazomanie on Highway 14 or bike on County Highway KP. Hike the Ice Age Trail which bisects the valley, or enjoy Black Earth Creek from the Wolf Run Trail which runs between Wisconsin Heights School and Mazomanie. Explore some of the side roads, and visit Festge County Park’s overlook for an inspiring view of the valley that Groundswell is working with landowners and partners to protect.