Lower Wisconsin River Basin
About the Basin
The Lower Wisconsin River basin drains approximately 4,940 square miles of south central and southwestern Wisconsin. The basin includes the Wisconsin River from the Castle Rock Flowage dam to its confluence with the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien, and all the streams tributary to the Wisconsin along this reach, spanning all or parts of 12 counties: Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, Richland, Sauk, and Vernon. Water quality in the basin is generally considered good. The primary water quality problems are caused by nonpoint sources of pollution, particularly from agricultural operations, excessive populations of rough fish and hydrologic modifications such as dams, stream straightening, and the ditching, draining or other alteration of wetlands.
The basin has more than 3,800 miles of streams including the Lemonweir, Baraboo, Pine, and Kickapoo Rivers. Approximately 870 miles of streams in the basin are considered a cold water sport fishery, or trout waters. Another 856 miles are warm water sport fishery waters while 115 miles are valuable forage fishery streams. DNR lacks existing use classification information for more than 2,104 of the total stream miles in the Lower Wisconsin River basin. Most of these unknown stream miles are very small unnamed tributaries, or the headwaters reaches of named streams above areas where the DNR does have information. The existing information for many of the streams is old or sketchy and additional monitoring is needed to update the surface water database.
There are presently 41.4 miles of outstanding resource waters (ORW) and 145.5 miles of exceptional resource waters (ERW) in the basin. An additional 14.5 miles are proposed for ORW designation and 237 miles are proposed for ERW designation in the basin. These streams are identified in the watershed tables for individual watersheds.
The Lower Wisconsin River basin has few lakes. In northeastern Monroe, southeast Jackson and Juneau counties -- an area that comprised glacial Lake Wisconsin -- most of the "lakes" are flowages created either to support cranberry culture or in an attempt to drain land for farming earlier in this century. Most of these impoundments are shallow and have little fishery value. Many do have important wildlife values. We have little water quality data on these flowages and their impacts on downstream water quality and fisheries habitat.
Watershed, Water Details
Click the links below to find water resource information for specific watersheds and their waters.
One watershed plan has been updated in this basin. This document is an update to the Lower Wisconsin Basin Plan (see below). Contact Andy Morton, Watershed Supervisor for information.
Lower Wisconsin Basin Plan (2002)
Chapter 7: Watershed Narrativesare below:
Kickapoo River Mainstem
Bear Creek Watershed Maps
Contact Andy Morton, Watershed Supervisor, for more information.
For more on the Bad Axe LaCrosse Basin South Central DNR Staff.