Fish and Aquatic Life
South Branch Creek, also known as the South Branch of the Baraboo River, flows in a
northeasterly direction for 6.5 miles before reaching the West Branch of the Baraboo River at
Hillsboro Lake in Hillsboro. Some people and references in older documents erroneously
identify the South Branch of the Baraboo River as extending below Hillsboro Lake to its
confluence with the Baraboo River near Union Center. The river below Hillsboro Lake,
however, is in fact the West Branch of the Baraboo River. South Branch Creek, located in
northeastern Vernon County, has a gradient of approximately 23 feet per mile and drains hilly
agricultural and forested lands. The creek is a Class III trout stream for its entire length
upstream of HWY 80 just south of Hillsboro. The lower half mile of the stream contains
warm water fish species also found in Hillsboro Lake.
The South Branch Creek suffers from flooding, sedimentation of pools and riffles, manure
runoff, and lack of in-stream habitat for adult trout. The most recent biological survey,
conducted in 1968, documented very few brown trout and numerous forage fish species. A
habitat survey, conducted in 1994, documented a stream bottom consisting of equal amounts
of gravel, cobble, sand and silt; however, in-stream cover for adult trout was lacking. There is
a USGS gauging station at Hillsboro. WDNR records indicate that the South Branch Creek
has been stocked with brown trout consistently since 1960. Access to this stream is from five
Ripp, Coreen, Koperski, Cindy and Folstad, Jason. 2002. The State of the Lower Wisconsin River Basin.
PUBL WT-559-2002. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Cynthia Koperski
This stream, a tributary to Hillsboro Lake, is a Class III trout stream (WDNR, 1980). It
has generally good water quality in its upper reaches. In-stream habitat is degraded by
nonpoint sources of water polltrtion (Biebl, 1991). Sediment from eroding farm fields
and streambanks fill riffles and deep pools, elirrlinatirlg habitat. Elevated stream
temperatures in the lower reaches and organic and bacterial pollutant loadings from
livestock are all thoght to be problems (Biebl, 1991).
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
South Branch Creek was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) and temperature sample data were clearly below 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water is meeting this designated use and is not considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
The 2018 assessments of the South Branch Creek (miles 0-1.25) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
Author Ashley Beranek
South Branch Creek (1289800) from its mouth to Highway 80 was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2014. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, no biological data (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) were available to assess biological impairment. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
Author Aaron Larson
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'.
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|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10011293||South Branch Creek - South Branch Baraboo River Station #1 Bridge Where Beaver Cr. Enters||Map||Data|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10011294||South Branch Creek - South Branch Baraboo River Station #2 Farmers Bridge||Map||Data|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10032372||South Branch Creek - Verbsky Lane||Map||Data|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10011295||South Branch Creek - South Branch Baraboo River Station #3 Bridge On St. Patrick Rd.||10/15/2004||10/15/2004||Map||Data|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10043625||South Br. Cr. US Mckenzie Rd.||6/1/2015||8/13/2015||Map||Data|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10015731||South Branch Baraboo River - 50 Yds Downstream Of Bridge Onkouba Valley Rd.||3/17/1994||9/22/2015||Map||Data|
|1289800||South Branch Creek||10015761||South Branch Baraboo River - 70 Yds Above Bridge On Sth 80||3/17/1994||3/17/1994||Map||Data|
South Branch Creek is located in the Seymour Creek and Upper Baraboo River watershed which is 171.73 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (62%), forest (30%) and a mix of suburban (5%) and other uses (2%). This watershed has 414.62 stream miles, 124.03 lake acres and 4,637.96 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. 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.