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Lisa Helmuth
Water Quality Bureau

Root-Pike River basin

Basin ecology

The Root-Pike watershed is located in the most southeastern corner of Wisconsin in portions of Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. The basin contains (entirely or portions of) 10 cities, eight towns, eight villages and is home to about 300,000 people. The basin is divided into five watersheds. The watersheds are named after the major rivers they contain, or the area they drain. Collectively the five watersheds contain about 170 miles of perennial streams, over 300 miles of intermittent streams, five named lakes and many small lakes and ponds. Wetlands encompass over 8,500 acres, or four percent of the basin land area.

Map of Root-Pike River basin [PDF, 149KB]

The Natural Heritage Inventory has documented 16 endangered, 20 threatened and 52 special concern plant and animal species and 17 rare aquatic and terrestrial communities within the Root-Pike River basin. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SWRPC) [exit DNR] identified over 3,500 acres of high quality natural communities and critical species habitats remaining in the basin (SWRPC, 1997). About 20 percent of the land area of the basin are covered by urban uses, while the remainder is still considered rural. Agriculture is dominant in the rural areas.

Last revised: Thursday December 10 2015