By: Laura Bunn and Will Kenneally
Lake levels have been high in Madison, especially since the floods in August 2018.
Flooding continues to affect areas around the city. I went to visit Picnic Point to find out how flooding is affecting your favorite spot.
“I’m sad because it’s real,” said Mary Pat Bauhs, during a weekend hike at Picnic Point.
Mary Pat Bauhs and her husband frequent Picnic Point. On a sunny October day, flooding on the trails caused them to take a detour.
“We’ll walk along the shoreline a little bit,” Bauhs said. “Hopefully to get all the way out to Picnic Point.”
Thousands of visitors at Picnic Point faced trail closures this month due to flooding. As Arborist Laura Wyatt explains, it’s a systemic problem.
“When we don’t have enough open areas to capture water and hold it until it infiltrates into the ground, we get all this runoff,” said Wyatt, program manager for the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.
Lake levels are high here in Madison, with almost a foot more of rainfall than usual. Experts believe flooding will continue in the future.
“We feel confident that these changes in precipitation patterns are part of a larger phenomenon of regional change that is driven that is associated with a pretty enduring climate shift,” said Emily Stanley, a limnology professor at UW-Madison.
The effects of that shift may be drastic.
“It could very well be that, you know, in a few years it’ll become an island,” Stanley said.
Until that point, Wyatt says there are ways everyone can help.
“People can put in rain gardens on their property to help capture the rain, hold it so it soaks into the ground, so it doesn’t run off into a pipe into the lake,” Wyatt said.
But for Bauhs, she’ll continue to cherish whatever pathways are open.
“This place sort of takes my breath away,” Bauhs said.