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Water planning in Wisconsin

Upper Chippewa basin North Fork Flambeau River

Contact information
Lisa Helmuth
Water Quality Bureau

Upper Chippewa River basin

Description

About the basin

The Upper Chippewa basin is located in west-central and northwestern Wisconsin. The mainstem Chippewa River is formed by the confluence of the West Fork Chippewa River (rising from the 14,500 acre Chippewa Lake, southeastern Bayfield County) and East Fork Chippewa River (rising from the wetlands of the Town of Knight in Iron County).

Basin resources

Despite its proximity to Lake Superior, the Chippewa basin feeds the Mississippi and was once navigable for 50 miles upstream from the Mississippi by Durand, flowing northeast to Eau Claire.

Hydrologically, the "Upper Chippewa basin" is divided from the Lower Chippewa basin for management purposes, includes portions of Iron, Ashland, Sawyer, Rusk, Price, Vilas, Chippewa and Taylor County. The area actually managed by Upper Chippewa basin Staff, however, includes additional portions of Taylor, Rusk, Barron, Sawyer and Washburn Counties. Over 3,000 stream and river miles flow through the basin and with 156,200 acres of freshwater lakes, 22,711 acres of flowages and more than 150 acres of freshwater springs.

Today the river provides significant habitat, recreation, navigation and is a significant resource for northwest Wisconsin people. Over 40 lakes in the basin (Excel) host confirmed stands of Wild Rice, a critical natural resource protected by state and tribal governments. Sport fisheries including musky, walleye, smallmouth bass and more are found throughout the water rich region. Many projects and management activities have been or are planned for the region.

See the Surface Water Data Viewer to view wild rice locations

Impaired waters

Fifty-seven (57) lakes are currently on the state's list of impaired waters and Spider-Clear Lake is proposed to be added based on fish tissue monitoring results. Additional deletions for currently listed rivers upstream of Holcomb Flowage are proposed for this year's 2008 list. There are no fish consumption advisories on the Chippewa R. upstream of the Holcombe Dam.

For more information on activities regarding review of Manitowish Waters/Rest Lake Dam operations

Search impaired water details

Watersheds, waters

Water resource information for specific watersheds

Watershed/resource details Watershed code/map Watershed size Lists (Streams, lakes, bays & harbors) Counties Water management unit (WMU) Major drainage system
Bear River UC15 145.45 mi 2 UC15 Water lists Iron, Oneida, Vilas Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Butternut Creek UC12 77.66 mi 2 UC12 Water lists Ashland, Price Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Couderay River UC20 212.25 mi 2 UC20 Water lists Sawyer, Washburn Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Deer Tail Creek UC06 63.02 mi 2 UC06 Water lists Rusk Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
East Fork Chippewa River UC21 305.16 mi 2 UC21 Water lists Ashland, Iron, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Elk River UC09 261.12 mi 2 UC09 Water lists Price Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Flambeau Flowage UC14 247.18 mi 2 UC14 Water lists Iron, Price, Vilas Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Holcombe Flowage UC01 170.38 mi 2 UC01 Water lists Rusk, Chippewa Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Lake Chippewa UC22 182.9 mi 2 UC22 Water lists Bayfield, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Lower Flambeau River UC07 128.62 mi 2 UC07 Water lists Rusk, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Lower Jump River UC02 135.71 mi 2 UC02 Water lists Price, Rusk, Taylor, Chippewa Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Lower North Fork Flambeau River UC11 153.97 mi 2 UC11 Water lists Ashland, Price, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Lower South Fork Flambeau River UC08 200.15 mi 2 UC08 Water lists Price, Rusk, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Main Creek UC05 157.26 mi 2 UC05 Water lists Price, Rusk, Chippewa Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Manitowish River UC16 268.6 mi 2 UC16 Water lists Iron, Vilas Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Middle Jump River UC03 229.88 mi 2 UC03 Water lists Price, Rusk, Taylor Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Soft Maple and Hay Creeks UC17 176.75 mi 2 UC17 Water lists Rusk Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Thornapple River UC18 229.97 mi 2 UC18 Water lists Rusk, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Upper North Fork Flambeau River UC13 158.21 mi 2 UC13 Water lists Ashland, Iron, Price Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Upper South Fork Flambeau River UC10 278.98 mi 2 UC10 Water lists Ashland, Iron, Oneida, Price, Vilas Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Upper South Fork Jump River UC04 322.41 mi 2 UC04 Water lists Price, Taylor Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
Weirgor Creek and Brunet River UC19 324 mi 2 UC19 Water lists Ashland, Rusk, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River
West Fork Chippewa River UC23 284.78 mi 2 UC23 Water lists Ashland, Bayfield, Sawyer Upper Chippewa Mississippi River

Fisheries

Fisheries photos

These photos show fish and habitat projects in the Upper Chippewa basin.

Black Crappie Record

This Black Crappie provided the state record fish of its kind in 2006. More about Black Crappie.

Fykenets set on the Chippewa Flowage

Fykenets set on the Chippewa Flowage help researchers determine the health of various sport fish populations.

Smallmouth bass

The Smallmouth Bass is an extremely popular sportfish in the Upper Chippewa area. More about Smallmouth Bass.

Ancient Lake Sturgeon

The ancient Lake Sturgeon moves through Flambeau River waters offering interest and variety for anglers and naturalists. More about Lake Sturgeon.

Chippewa River Sturgeon

This Chippewa River Sturgeon, studied biologists, offers delight to sports enthusiasts and fisheries advocates. Read Sturgeon regulations.

Musky populations

A 2006 project to enhance Musky populations in major systems in the basin successfully increased breeding populations. More about Musky.

Plans

One watershed plan has been updated in this basin. This document is an update to the Upper Chippewa River basin plan.

Last revised: Thursday January 21 2016