Dane County Hosts Grand Opening for Newly Restored Stewart Lake

May 26, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Dredging Done, Brand New Beach Opened, Fish Restocked…Ready for Summer Swimming!

With a brand new sandy beach in the background, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk was joined by students and teachers from Mount Horeb High School on Wednesday for a grand opening celebration of the recently restored Stewart Lake and Park.  Falk and the students released thousands of forage fish to begin the process of restocking the lake’s fish population.

As part of an extensive restoration project that started in 2006, Dane County dredged the historic lake, improved a dam that separates the lake from Moen Creek, and most recently built a brand-new swimming beach. 

“Dane County’s first county park now returns as one of the crown jewels of our county and the perfect place for a family picnic, swim, or hike,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said.  “Thanks to the hard work of many, Stewart Lake will be the ideal family fishery!”

In addition to the thousands of forage fish that Falk and the students put in Stewart Lake Wednesday, bass and bluegills will be brought to the lake later in the summer and the county is working to bring 1000 rainbow trout fingerlings in next spring.  The high school students have built fish cribs for the new fish that will be placed in the lake this summer.

Falk noted she and the county board committed $570,000 in county tax dollars for the restoration work at Stewart Lake.  The Village of Mount Horeb provided $100,000 for the project while the Mount Horeb Community Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to help cover the costs of fish restocking.

The county’s dredging efforts removed over 19,000 cubic yards of material from the bottom of Stewart Lake.  That material was pumped up a hillside to a different part of Stewart Park that will now be restored to natural prairie area.  To reduce future urban and agriculture run-off into the lake, a few years ago Dane County and the Village of Mount Horeb collaboratively installed ten water and sediment control basins.

Concrete repairs were made and fencing added to the dam to make it safer.  Additional future improvements to the park and lake are planned including a new shelter, a handicapped accessible fishing pier, a non-motorized boat launch, kiosks commemorating the history of the Stewart Park, and improved hiking/walking trails.

Spanning 174 acres, Stewart Park is Dane County’s oldest park and has a rich history.  It first opened in 1912.  The first known Rainbow trout caught in the lake was in 1915 and two decades after that the Civilian Conservation Corps established a camp at the park.  Stewart Lake is around seven acres and parts of the lake are as much as 16-feet deep. 

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