Jersey Valley is a 371 acre park near Westby. The park’s most prominent feature is a 52 acre man-made lake formed by a large flood control dam on Peaceful Valley Stream at the headwaters of the West Fork Kickapoo River. The lake is a popular fishing destination and is great for bluegill, crappie, perch, trout and largemouth bass.
Since 2005, Jersey Valley Park has been essentially closed to the public (The hiking trail has remained open for use). In 2005, the lake experienced a catastrophic fish kill caused by excessive manure nutrient runoff in the watershed feeding the lake. Shortly after the fish kill, it was determined that repairs were needed in the dam and abutments to try and minimize leakage through the fractured bedrock that exists in the valley walls below ground surface. This type of landscape, called “Karst” topography is characterized by fractured bedrock and abundant sinkholes. Dam safety engineers were concerned that the dam and/or adjacent hillside abutments could potentially fail and cause damage to dwellings and property downstream. For that reason, Vernon County was placed under orders to make necessary repairs to the dam. The prescribed repairs involved drilling a series of holes in the dam and abutments and filling them with cement “grout”. The entire drilled and filled area is called a grout curtain. The grout fills voids and cracks in the bedrock making it much less likely for the dam to fail.
The GOOD NEWS is that the dam has been fully repaired, the lake has been refilled, and the park is open to the public once again. A new beach and swimming area has been installed. The swimming area will not be staffed with lifeguards-so parents and guardians please be sure to watch your children closely and make sure they stay within the roped swimming area.
Jersey Valley has a great 4 mile hiking trail encircling the lake. Peaceful Valley Stream, a crystal clear trout stream, feeds the lake from the Northeast. Peaceful Valley has a parking area that provides access to the park and hiking trail. There is also a managed native prairie with an abundance of native grass and wildflower species.
Jersey Valley County Park is located 3 miles northeast of Westby on County Rd. X. From Westby, travel north on State Hwy. 27, travel 3 miles and turn east (right) onto County Rd. X. Follow the signs to the park.