Fish and Aquatic Life
Stillwell Creek, located in central Monroe County, originates in Fort McCoy and flows for 4.7 miles in a northwesterly direction before reaching Tarr Creek. It has a gradient of 28 feet per mile. A privately owned cranberry operation impounds Stillwell Creek at its midpoint. Stillwell Creek is a Class III trout stream dowstream of the cranberry operation for 2.8 miles and Class II for 1.9 miles upstream of the cranberry operation.
Brook trout inhabit Stillwell Creek; however, in-stream cover for adult fish is scarce. The addition of in-stream cover would likely benefit the Stillwell Creek fishery. Access to Stillwell Creek is via Fort McCoy.
Author Aquatic Biologist
"All" of the stream (class 2).
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Grassland cover dominates the watershed, although the very upper portion of the watershed along the drainage divide contains significant areas of mixed forest. Additionally, forested land cover is found in the lower most portion of the basin. Vegetative cover in the riparian corridor along Stillwell Creek is varied; grassland comprises the greatest percentage (28%) of vegetative cover in the riparian corridor, while forested wetland and aspen comprise nearly 15% and 13% of the riparian cover, respectively. A detailed characterization of the riparian vegetation along Stillwell Creek is presented in
Section 4.2. Furthermore, Stillwell Lake, an artificially created lake, is located in the middle portion of the watershed with a surface area of six acres, a maximum depth of 10 feet, and mean depth of 5.9 feet.
A privately owned cranberry operation is located along Stillwell Creek in the lower portion of the watershed. The operation includes 49 acres of cultivated cranberry bogs and six small storage ponds used for irrigation during various periods of the year, and provide a mechanism through which the intake of water for storage and its release, can be controlled. The impoundments have a total surface area of 15 acres; the largest impoundment has a surface area of four acres and a maximum depth of 15 feet. The other five impoundments have an average surface area of approximately two acres and a maximum depth of seven feet.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Four temperature-monitoring sites are located in Stillwell Creek. One station is
located in the uppermost portion of the basin above Stillwell Lake. A second station is located below Stillwell Lake. A third station is located below the Habelman cranberry farm. The fourth station is located at the most downstream segment of Stillwell Creek, just above the confluence with the La Crosse River. Although the period of record and the beginning and ending of dates of these sites vary, a significant amount of hourly stream temperatures have been collected during the warm season months of
March through October.
Stream flow in Stillwell Creek above Stillwell Lake is dominated by groundwater baseflow, which has a relatively low and fairly constant temperature. Furthermore, a bottom draw device installed near the base
of Stillwell Lake provides for the release of cool water into Stillwell Creek. Consequently, stream temperatures observed in this reach are cooler and exhibit a much smaller variance than do temperatures at the other sites. The maximum temperature observed in Stillwell Creek is 24.7 degrees Celsius (76.4ï¿½F) that was recorded below the Habelmanï¿½s cranberry operation. The data suggest that increased stream temperatures below the cranberry operation are related to warm flows released from the cranberry operation.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Stillwell Creek is a 4.7-mile trout stream with a gradient of 28 feet per mile that drains an area of approximately five square miles. A 2.2-mile segment downstream from the cranberry operation supports a class III trout fishery whereas the segment upstream of the cranberry operation is classified as a class II trout fishery. The segment of the creek downstream of the cranberry operation is considered impaired because the fish community is rated poor as measured using the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI). The low IBI scores are believed to be due to high temperatures, and degraded habitat which is reflected in an elevated fine sediment count.
Water temperature increases cause cold water communities to suffer a variety of ill effects, which can range from decreased spawning to death. Dissolved oxygen sags can also be influenced by an increase in the water temperature because less oxygen is soluble as temperature increases. Water temperature increases can be caused as a result of stream bank erosion, widening the river channels, which exposes more of the river water to direct sunlight.
Sedimentation reduces the suitable habitat for fish and macroinvertebrate communities. Filling-in of pools with sediment reduces the amount of available cover for juvenile and adult fish. Sedimentation of riffle areas reduces the reproductive success of fish by reducing the exposed gravel substrate necessary for appropriate spawning conditions. Sedimentation also affects macroinvertebrate biomass (fish food source) which tends to be lower in areas with predominantly sand substrate than in a stream substrate with
a mix of gravel, rubble and sand.
Sedimentation (particularly in the case of fine sediments which remain in suspension longer) also causes elevated turbidity, which reduces the penetration of light necessary for photosynthesis in aquatic plants, reduces feeding efficiency of visual predators and filter feeders, and lowers the respiratory capacity of aquatic invertebrate by clogging their gill surfaces.
In addition, other contaminants such as nutrients (phosphorus) attached to sediment particles can be transported to lakes and streams during runoff events. Nutrient enrichment can contribute to dissolved oxygen sags by stimulating aquatic plant growth and their oxygen consumption demands.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available.
Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2016 . See also 'monitoring' and 'projects'.
TMDL Approved (USEPA)
TMDL Development for Squaw Creek
and Stillwell Creek, Wisconsin
USGS Gage stations funded
A nine key element plan might be created for this area with cost share funding for BMPs through grant programs.
This water was reclassified by David Vetrano, John Noble from a survey in October 2003. This stream contains adequate habitat and water quality conditions for trout.It requires annual stocking of legal-sized trout to provide trout fishing. Generally there is no carryover of trout from one year to the next. Above the cranberry property, surveys show this stream may have some natural reproduction but not enough to utilize available food and space. Therefore, stocking sometimes is required to maintain a desirable sport fishery. This stream shows good survival and carryover of adult trout.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable
Management goals can include creation and implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load Analysis, habitat restoration work, partnership education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below.
Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.
Grants and Management Projects
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|1662600||Stillwell Creek||10017122||Stillwell Creek Site 0801 - Samples Collected Above Stillwellpond.||11/12/1994||3/21/1995||Map||Data|
|1662600||Stillwell Creek||10017124||Stillwell Creek Site 0802 - Samples Collected Below Stillwellpond/Road.||11/12/1994||3/21/1995||Map||Data|
|1662600||Stillwell Creek||10021436||Stilwell Creek - Betw. 16th Ct & Cranberry Bog||11/7/2006||11/7/2006||Map||Data|
Stillwell Creek is located in the Upper La Crosse River watershed which is 126.12 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (48%), grassland (24%) and a mix of agricultural (14%) and other uses (13%). This watershed has 167.76 stream miles, 207.50 lake acres and 4,875.27 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and Medium for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Medium. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.