Goose Pond is a prairie pothole, a pond that is fed only by precipitation and run-off. Because of this, Goose Pond water levels change significantly only two or three days a year after a major run-off event. But right now, we’re seeing something we’ve never seen before! Goose Pond is normally four feet deep, but today, it’s at least seven.
Deep snow cover and ice, frozen ground, rain, and high temperatures resulted in record flooding and runoff levels. There is so much water in our above-ground system that you could now kayak from Ankenbrandt Prairie (east of Goose Pond) into Lake Mendota and only have to get out to maneuver around culverts.
The good news is that scaup, goldeneyes, canvasbacks, mallards, Canada geese, and cranes have arrived and are using the sheet water.
The bad news is there is damage to road infrastructure, and many low lying roadways in the area are closed or have high water advisory.
If you are visiting Goose Pond, use safety precautions and common sense. In the 40 years that the Martins have resided at Goose Pond, water has only flowed west out of the pond to Lake Mendota on one other occasion.
Above: Train Tracks (looking north). The train tracks are flooded up to four inches for 250 feet. A soft rail bed and nearby erosion stranded the train from yesterday evening until this morning.
Above: Video (Kampen Road). Taken at 4:18 p.m. yesterday, this video shows the sheer volume of water flowing under the road and into Goose Pond. The stranded train is shown in the back.
Photos and text by Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin, Goose Pond Sanctuary resident managers, and Graham Steinhauer, Goose Pond Sanctuary land steward