Wolf Creek TWA WQM Plan 2017 Project (GB13)
Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers
HUC: 040301080904, Monitored in 2014
Andy Hudak, Primary Author and Investigator
Wolf Creek Plan
Purpose of Project
The purpose of the Wolf Creek Targeted Watershed Assessment in the larger Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers watershed (GB13) was designed to collect evaluation data by monitoring five stations on Wolf Creek and one station on Holmes Creek to gather baseline information for watershed planning and Clean Water Act Reporting.
Wolf Creek was selected for Targeted Watershed Assessment evaluation monitoring in 2014. Based on current surveys, water quality of the streams in the watershed are in overall good to excellent condition. Current land use practices in the region do not appear to be causing adverse impacts to water quality conditions. Total Phosphorous (TP) concentrations at the pour point would suggest that nutrients are in balance and excess phosphorous is not a problem. Habitat is likely the limiting factor for the streams potential. Potential threats to water quality continue to be poor logging practices and new nutrient source inputs from development or agriculture.
The protection of the riparian corridors and landscape of the streams and lakes in this watershed should be the highest priority for management actions. Sustainable forest and woodlot management should be the standards and forestry best management practices to protect water quality should be strictly followed. Land divisions and new development in the riparian areas of lakes and streams should be done only after careful consideration. Proper site placement and planning should occur to protect shoreline cutting and clearing for home development. Location of new septic systems should only occur on suitable sites where poor filtration or high groundwater tables are not present.
The overall goal of this plan is to improve and protect water quality in the basin. This Targeted Watershed Assessment monitoring project provided substantial data to analyze current conditions and to make recommendations for future management actions in the area. This plan is designed to present monitoring study results, identify issues or concerns in the area found during the project and to make recommendations to improve or protect water quality consistent with Clean Water Act guidelines and state water quality standards.
1. Protection of riparian corridors and streams and lake landscapes is a high priority.
2. Forestry best management practices should be followed to protect water quality.
3. Land divisions and new development in the riparian areas of lakes and streams should be done only after careful consideration.
4. Proper site placement and planning to protect shoreline cutting and clearing for home development is needed.
5. Additionally, location of new septic systems should only occur on suitable sites where poor filtration or high groundwater tables are not present.
The Wolf Creek watershed is a 15.71 square mile, HUC-12 sub-watershed that lies in the Wausaukee and Lower Menomonee River watershed in Marinette County. Soils and topography in the Wolf Creek sub-watershed are unique in that the entire area is fairly isolated with glacial deposits forming distinctive breaks in the upper watershed surrounding the lakes and then dropping into poorly drained organic soils immediately adjacent to the lakes and streams. Wetlands are extensive throughout the watershed along the stream and lake corridors with minimal fragmentation.
The watershed is fairly simple with one main stream, Wolf Creek, which is an 11.0 mile long tributary to the Menomonee River which connects and drains approximately 10 lakes in the upper portion of the watershed. A connection exists between Wolf Creek and Holmes Creek that is artificial and likely served the logging industry in the late 1800ï¿½s when saw logs were floated down small streams to the Menomonee River where they were floated down to sawmills. This connection reduced the distance logs had to be floated down to the Menomonee River by 2.5 miles. Logging still appears to be very active in the watershed for the income and the localized economy.
Population, Land Use, Site Characteristics
Wolf Creek is located in the Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers watershed which is 187.05 miï¿½. Land use in the watershed is primarily wetland (42%), forest (31%) and a mix of agricultural (12%) and other uses (14%). This watershed has 204.27 stream miles, 5,835.97 lake acres and 33,470.94 wetland acres.
Land use in the watershed Wolf Creek watershed is primarily upland forest, lowland swamp and bogs, and open water with agriculture making up only about 1% of the total land use. What agriculture does exist are a few small beef cattle herds with land in hay and row crops.
The Wausaukee and Lower Menomonee Rivers Watershed is located in two ecological landscapes: the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal and the Northeast Sands. The Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Ecological Landscape is located in northeastern Wisconsin, and includes Green Bay and the northern part of the Door Peninsula. Its landforms consist of the Niagara escarpment, a prominent dolomite outcropping along the east side of Green Bay, a lacustrine plain along the west side of Green Bay, and ground moraine elsewhere. Low sand dunes and beach ridges that support Great Lakes endemics and many other rare species are found along the Great Lakes shoreline. The influence of Lake Michigan moderates extreme temperatures.
Soils are very diverse; in some areas, lacustrine sands are found overlying clays or bedrock within only a few feet of the surface. In the Door Peninsula, soils are typically stony loamy sands to loams. Poorly drained sands are common in the lake plain or in depressions between dunes and beach ridges. On the western side of Green Bay, the ground moraine is composed mostly of moderately well drained, rocky sandy loams, interspersed with lacustrine sands and clays, and peat and muck also common. Historic vegetation included maple-basswood-beech forest, hemlock-hardwood forest, northern white cedar swamp, hardwood-conifer swamp, wet meadows, and coastal marshes. Conifer dominated upland forests that resemble the boreal forest were present along Lake Michigan; they contain a significant component of white spruce and balsam fir. Cliffs, sinkholes, and dolomite ledges are associated with the Niagara Escarpment. Current vegetation consists of more than 60% non-forested land, most of which is in agricultural crops, with smaller amounts of grassland, wetland, shrubland, and urbanized areas. Forested lands are dominated by maple-basswood, with smaller amounts of lowland hardwoods, aspen-birch, and lowland conifers. High quality areas of exposed alkaline bedrock beach occur on the northern Door Peninsula, providing habitat for many rare plants. Several islands lie off the Door Peninsula and these also provide critical habitat for rare species and colonially nesting birds.
The Northeast Sands Ecological Landscape occupies a relatively narrow, vertical band of land in northeast Wisconsin. This landscape formed in glacial outwash sand plains (some of them pitted), and has steep outcropping Precambrian bedrock knolls of basalt, rhyolite, or granite. Sandy ground moraines and end moraines are also interspersed in the landscape. Historically, extensive oak/Jack Pine Barrens and jack pine forests were found in the outwash sand portions of this Ecological Landscape. Moraines supported forests of hardwoods, red pine, and white pine. Outwash plains often contained pitted depressions, resulting in numerous wetlands and kettle lakes. Most of this Ecological Landscape is still forested; aspen predominates, followed by northern hardwoods. Jack pine remains on the outwash plains along with northern pin oak. There are several important occurrences of jack pine/oak barren communities. A small percentage of this Ecological Landscape contains spruce-fir-cedar forest and lowland hardwood forest. The Brazeau Swamp is one of the best representations of large cedar swamp forests in northern Wisconsin.
Methods & Procedures
Water quality monitoring was conducted at 6 wadeable sites throughout the watershed in the spring, summer, and fall of 2014. During each field visit, basic water quality parameters including air temperature, water temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, dissolved oxygen percent, pH, flow, and water clarity were collected. Total Phosphorous samples were collected by a citizen volunteer once per month throughout the growing season from May to October. A continuous temperature HOBO was installed at this site and collected continuous water temperature reading between May and October.
Continuous Water Temperature Monitoring
An Onset Hobo water temperature data logger was placed within the sample station used for fish and habitat survey at the station nearest the pour point on Pike River Road. Temperature readings were collected every 15 minutes from May to October. Temperature data will be used to determine relative thermal regimes for the sample station and to ascertain average daily summer time maximum temperatures.
Fish surveys were completed through the identified sample station. A direct current electrofishing backpack shocker or tow behind stream shocker was used to collect all fish possible through an upstream pass through the sample station. Typically the back pack units were used on the small streams up to 3 meters with a single probe and the stream shockers were used with a generator and 2 probes on the remainder of sites over 3 meters. All fish were collected, identified, and counted. All gamefish were measured. All other DNR sampling protocols were used to assess the fish community for purposes of calculating the index of biotic integrity.
At the established pour point station, a quantitative habitat evaluation was completed. A total of 12 transects were located equidistant throughout the station to sample representative available habitat. Quantitative habitat metrics were collected such as average stream width and depths, depths of fines, substrate, embeddedness of substrate, macrophyte or algal growth, canopy cover, riparian buffers, land use, stream bank erosion, and fish cover. The station length was established at a distance 35 times the mean stream width. The remaining stations had qualitative habitat assessments completed which utilizes a condensed protocol but obtains the same habitat metrics as quantitative habitat protocols.
Macroinvertebrate samples were obtained by kick sampling a collection using a D-frame net at all 6 sites in the watershed in fall. These samples were sent to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for taxonomic classification, analysis, and computation of a Macroinvertebrate (M-IBI) and other usable metrics.
Site Selection & Study Design
Sites were selected so data would not be biased toward stream order, location, or natural community; however sites may have been targeted based access, limited or outdated data for that particular stream reach. Sample stations were established to limit outside influences and set-up using DNR field procedures manuals of 35 times the mean stream width (Modified from Simonson, et al. 1994). Stations were no less than the minimum of 100 meters and no more than the maximum of 400 meters.
Results for the fisheries and habitat surveys are summarized in Table 5 and 6. The natural communities model (Lyons, 2008) indicates that the streams in the Wolf Creek in the upper watershed is a cool-warm headwater and then transitions into a cool-warm mainstem downstream of Lubke Road. Holmes Creek is modeled as a cool-warm mainstem. Based on the natural community verification draft guidance (Lyons 2014), Wolf Creek trends towards a warmwater stream with headwater characteristics present at the upstream station and the remainder of the stream would be considered mainstem based on fish assemblages observed. Holmes Creek was confirmed as a cool-warm mainstem. Based on the verified natural community, the applicable FIBI was applied to achieve a score and rating.
Macroinvertebrate samples were collected at all sites and evaluated with the Hilsenhoff Biotic indices (HBI) (Hilsenhoff, 1987), Family level Biotic Indices (FBI) (Hilsenhoff 1988) and the Macroinvertebrate index of biotic integrity (MIBI) (Weigel, 2003). Results were consistently good to excellent for all sites sampled (Table 6).
Total Phosphorous samples were collected once per month at the site furthest downstream within the watershed at Pike River Road also known as the pour point. Total Phosphorous concentration fell well below the state standard of 0.075 mg/l.
Discussion of Results
Wolf Creek was selected for evaluation monitoring in 2014 which includes biological, chemical and physical data collection. Based on current surveys water quality of the streams in the Wolf Creek watershed are in overall good to excellent condition. Current land use practices in the region do not appear to be causing adverse impacts to water quality conditions. TP concentrations at the pour point suggest nutrients are in balance and excess phosphorous is not a problem. Habitat is likely the limiting factor for the streams potential.
Stream habitat varies greatly between the station at Pike River Road and the four other stations upstream. The upstream site had good habitat for being a small stream. Pools were lacking but woody cover for fish and riffle sequences were present. The mid-reach stations are dominated by excessive fines, coarse woody debris, and at times, dense macrophyte growth. Both submergent and emergent species are contained within the channel thalweg and margins and no non-native exotic species were observed. The excessive fines, likely from legacy impacts of logging, and beaver activity, support the macrophyte growth but also bury coarse woody debris and harder substrate such as gravel and cobble.
These stations serve as connections between the lakes and often times appear more lacustrine than riverine in nature based on the macrophyte growth. The station located at Pike River Road was relatively wide and shallow which lead to the lack of pools and limited cover for fish. This station is also extensively dominated by sands however rocky riffles were common and the riffle to riffle ratio was good which provided suitable habitat for a large bio-mass of non-game species. Potential threats to water quality continue to be poor logging practices and new nutrient source inputs from development or agriculture. The protection of the riparian corridors and landscape of the streams and lakes in this watershed should be the highest priority. Sustainable forest and woodlot management should be the standards and forestry best management practices to protect water quality should be strictly followed. Land divisions and new development in the riparian areas of lakes and streams should be done only after careful consideration. Proper site placement and planning should occur to protect shoreline cutting and clearing for home development. Location of new septic systems should only occur on suitable sites where poor filtration or high groundwater tables are not present.
Holmes Creek is a class I Brook Trout stream that lies outside of the Wolf Creek Watershed; however historic logging practices provided a direct connection between Wolf Creek and Holmes Creek. It is unclear how the connection currently affects either stream; however Holmes Creek currently does not appear to have any significant water quality issues or concerns. Legacy sediment impacts from logging are still apparent in the stream and habitat will continue to be a limiting factor. Maintaining intact riparian areas and promoting sustainable forestry practices employing best management practices for water quality, will continue to provide adequate protection to the stream and maintain current habitat ecological function.
1. Wolf Creek downstream of Pike River Road is modeled as a cool warm mainstem natural community; recent data indicates this is a warm mainstem stream.
2. Wolf Creek downstream of Lubke Road is modeled as a cool warm mainstem natural community; based on recent data this is a warm mainstem stream.
3. Wolf Creek upstream of Keating Road is modeled as a cool warm headwater natural community; recent data indicates this is a warm mainstem stream.
4. Wolf Creek at Island Lake Road is modeled as a cool warm headwater natural community; recent data indicates this is a warm headwater stream.
5. Wolf Creek at Narragon Road is modeled as a cool warm headwater natural community; based on recent data this is a warm mainstem stream.
1. Protection of riparian corridors and streams and the landscape of streams and lakes is a high priority.
2. Land managers should follow and promote the use of forestry best management practices to protect water quality.
3. Land divisions and new development in the riparian areas of lakes and streams should be conducted only after careful consideration of how to reduce impacts such as short and long-term erosion.
4. Proper site placement and planning to protect shoreline cutting and clearing for home development is needed.
5. Site selection for new septic systems should be conducted with care on suitable sites where poor filtration or high groundwater tables are not present.
1. DNR should seek partners and funds through pass through grants (river and lake planning and protection grants) and other available opportunities to protect help ensure protection of riparian corridors and stream and lake landscapes in this watershed.
2. DNR should continue to follow forestry best management practices to protect water quality.
1. Maintain intact riparian areas and promote sustainable forestry practices by employing best management practices for water quality, to provide adequate protection to the stream and maintain current habitat ecological function.
Water Quality Monitoring and Planning
This Water Quality Management Plan was created under the stateï¿½s Water Quality Management Planning and Water Resources Monitoring Programs. The plan reflects Water Quality Bureau and Water Resources Monitoring Strategy 2015-2020 goals and priorities and fulfills Areawide Water Quality Management Planning milestones under the Clean Water Act, Section 208. Condition information and resource management recommendations support and guide program priorities for the plan area. This plan is hereby approved by the Wisconsin DNR Water Quality Program and is a formal update to the Green Bay Basin Areawide Water Quality Management Plan and Wisconsinï¿½s Statewide Areawide Water
Quality Management Plan. This plan will be forwarded to USEPA for certification as a formal plan update.
Andy Hudak, Primary Author and Investigator, Eastern District, Wisconsin DNR
Victoria Ziegler, Program Support, Water Quality Bureau, Wisconsin DNR
Lisa Helmuth, Program Coordinator, Water Quality Bureau, Wisconsin DNR
Marinette County Land Conservation Department
Hilsenhoff, William L. 1987. An Improved Biotic Index of Organic Stream Pollution. The Great Lakes Entomologist. 20: 31-39.
Lyons, John. 1992. Using the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) to Measure Environmental Quality in Warmwater Streams of Wisconsin. United States Department of Agriculture. General Technical Report NC-149.
Lyons, John. 2006. A Fish-based Index of Biotic Integrity to Assess Intermittent Headwater Streams in Wisconsin, USA. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 122: 239-258.
Lyons, John. 2008. Using the Wisconsin Stream Model to Estimate the Potential Natural Community of Wisconsin Streams (DRAFT). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fish and Aquatic Life Research Section. November, 2008.
Lyons, John. T. Zorn, J. Stewart, P Seelbach, K Wehrly, and L. Wang. 2009. Defining and Characterizing Coolwater Streams and Their Fish Assemblages in Michigan and Wisconsin, USA. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 29:1130-1151.
Lyons, John. 2012. Development and Validation of Two Fish-based Indices of Biotic Integrity for Assessing Perennial Coolwater Streams In Wisconsin, USA. Ecological Indicators 23 (2012) 402-412.
Lyons, John. 2013. Methodology for Using Field Data to Identify and Correct Wisconsin Stream ï¿½Natural Communityï¿½ Misclassifications. Version 4. May 16, 2013. IN DRAFT.
Simonson, Timothy D., J. Lyons, and P.D. Kanehl. 1994. Guidelines for Evaluating Fish Habitat in Wisconsin Streams. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Forest Service. General Technical Report NC-164.
WDNR. 1980. Surface Water Resources of Green County. By D. Bush, R. Cornelius, D. Engel, C. Brynildson. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Madison, WI.
WDNR. 2003. The State of the Sugar and Pecatonica River Basins. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
WDNR. 2013. Wisconsin 2014 Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). Clean Water Act Section 305(b), 314, and 303(d) Integrated Reporting. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Bureau of Water Quality Program Guidance. September, 2013.
WDNR. 2015. An Assessment of Water Quality in the Lower Middle and Lower Sugar River Watershed (HUC 0709000406). 2013. Project SCR_20_CMP13. February, 2015. By James Amrhein, Water Quality Biologist ï¿½ South District. http://prodoasint.dnr.wi.gov/wadrs/viewWatershedDetail.do?id=924722
Weigel, Brian. 2003. Development of Stream Macroinvertebrate Models That Predict Watershed and Local Stressors in Wisconsin. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 22(1): 123-142.
BMP: Best Management Practice. A practice that is determined effective and practicable (including technological, economic, and institutional considerations) in preventing or reducing pollution generated from nonpoint sources to a level compatible with water quality goals.
DNR: Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is an agency of the State of Wisconsin created to preserve, protect, manage, and maintain natural resources.
FIBI: Fish Index of biological integrity (Fish IBI). An Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a scientific tool used to identify and classify water pollution problems. An IBI associates anthropogenic influences on a water body with biological activity in the water and is formulated using data developed from biosurveys. In Wisconsin, Fish IBIs are created for each type of natural community in the stateï¿½s stream system.
HUC: Hydrologic Unit Code. A code or sequence of numbers that identify one of a number of nested and interlocked hydrologic catchments delineated by a consortium of agencies including USGS, USFS, and Wisconsin DNR.
MIBI: Macroinvertebrate Index of biological integrity. In Wisconsin, the MIBI, or macroinvertebrate Index of biological integrity, was developed specifically to assess Wisconsinï¿½s macroinvertebrate community (see also Fish IBI). Natural Community. A system of categorizing waterbodies based on their inherent physical, hydrologic, and biological assemblages. Both Streams and Lakes are categorized using an array of ï¿½natural communityï¿½ types.
Monitoring Seq. No. Monitoring Sequence Number refers to a unique identification code generated by the Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS), which holds much of the stateï¿½s water quality monitoring data.
SWIMS ID. Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) Identification Code is the unique monitoring station identification number for the location where monitoring data was gathered.
TWA: Targeted Watershed Assessment. A statewide study design a rotating watershed approach to gathering of baseline monitoring data with specialized targeted assessments for unique and site specific concerns, such as effectiveness monitoring of management actions.
WATERS ID: The Waterbody Assessment, Tracking and Electronic Reporting System Identification Code (WATERS ID) is a unique numerical sequence number assigned by the WATERS system, also known as ï¿½Assessment Unit ID codeï¿½.
WBIC: Water Body Identification Code. DNRï¿½s unique identification codes assigned to water features in the state. The lines and information allow the user to execute spatial and tabular queries about the data, make maps, and perform flow analysis and network traces.