Kickapoo River, Upper Kickapoo River Watershed (LW06)
Kickapoo River, Upper Kickapoo River Watershed (LW06)
Kickapoo River (1182400)
2.98 Miles
125.85 - 128.82
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.
Cool-Cold Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This date represents the most recent date of water quality monitoring stored in the SWIMS system. Additional field surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
 
Unknown
 
Monroe
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Yes
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
No
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.
No

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Cold (Class I Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species through natural reproduction. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Cold (Class I Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species through natural reproduction. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
FAL Coldwater
Fish and Aquatic Life Coldwater - waters that do not have a specific designated (codified use) but which are have documented scientific support to ascertain indicating that the water is a cold fishable, swimmable water.

Overview

Of all the tributaries to the Wisconsin River, the Kickapoo River is the longest. It begins in south central Monroe County and flows in a southerly direction for 130 miles through Vernon, Richland and Crawford Counties before reaching the Wisconsin River near the Village of Wauzeka. The Kickapoo River lies within a 768-square mile drainage basin in southwest Wisconsin. The entire basin is within the Driftless Area, the portion of the State not flattened by glaciers. Approximately 46% of the basin contains slopes of 15% or greater and another 23% of the basin contains lands with slopes between 8 and 15%.

The name Kickapoo is an Algonquin word meaning "one who goes here, then there" and accurately describes the Kickapoo River which flows in all directions of the compass for portions of its length. The Kickapoo River falls toward the Wisconsin River at an average rate of 5.9 feet per mile; however, the river is relatively steep in Monroe County with a gradient of 22.7 feet per mile compared to the much more gradual 3 feet per mile in Vernon, Richland and Crawford Counties. The meandering character of this river across its floodplain is the result of the relatively flat gradient. As the crow flies, the Kickapoo River extends approximately 60 miles from headwater to mouth, but the river flows for 130 miles, more than double that length.

Eight communities discharge treated wastewater to the Kickapoo River: Gays Mills, La Farge, Ontario, Readstown, Soldiers Grove, Viola, Wauzeka, and Wilton. The 2000 population of these communities range from 395 in Readstown to 768 in Wauzeka with an average of 610 people. Each facility has been issued a WPDES permit by the Wisconsin DNR to discharge treated wastewater to the river.

The Kickapoo River drains 768 square miles of land dominated by agricultural activity (44%). Forests comprise approximately 41% of the basin. Wetlands make up a very small portion of the basin (nearly 2%) and are primarily found adjacent to the Kickapoo River within its extensive floodplain.

Fishery surveys of the Kickapoo River have been conducted numerous times over the years; however, due to the length of river, it has not been surveyed in its entirety within any one year. Survey years include 1959, 1962, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1993, 1999 and 2000. Upstream of Ontario, a 1993 survey documented a diverse forage fishery with some stocked brook and brown trout. Surveys conducted in 1999 and 2000 between Ontario and Gays Mills documented a total of 46 species, including an abundance of brown trout. Consequently, 60.4 miles of the Kickapoo River between Ontario and Gays Mills were recently classified as a Class II trout stream. Trout use this section of river for food and shelter, but likely spawn in tributary streams. The portion of the river below Gays Mills contains a diverse forage fishery as well as a more diverse sport fishery which includes walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, channel catfish, bluegill and pumpkinseed. Streambank erosion is a common sight throughout the Kickapoo River. Much of this erosion is not from current land management practices, but rather from severe sedimentation of the valley floor from poor land use management over much of the last century.

From: 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.

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

This reach of the Kickapoo River is a large river flowing through a narrow valley. The most significant water quality problem is mercury concentrations in fish tissue. A fish consumption advisory exists for northern pike and walleye 30-inches-long and under. The source(s) and extent of the problem is unknown.

Water chemistry monitoring conducted at Steuben, Wisconsin from 1977 through 1987 indicated nonpoint source water pollution had a detrimental impact on water quality. High nutrient and suspended solids concentrations were found on several sampling dates.

The lower Kickapoo River supports a diversity of high quality wetlands which are a scarce resource in southwestern Wisconsin. Nonpoint source water pollution poses a threat to the quality of these wetlands.

Date  1994

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

This hard water stream was turbid at the time of the 1970 survey, but previously collected data indicated clear water. The stream is navigable. It heads in Monroe County, flows in a general southerly direction through Vernon County, through a small corner of Richland County, and through Crawford County . There it joins the Wisconsin River. Locally, that part of the stream above the junction of the West Fork Kickapoo River is known as East Fork Kickapoo River. Although some rainbow and brown trout are present, minnows and other forage species, along with carp, make up the bulk of the fishery. It is probable that warmwater species such as northern pike, largemouth bass, bullhead, pumpkinseed, bluegill, and crappie are also present. Sand and silt are tile dominant bottom types, with some rubble, boulders, and gravel.

A portion of the stream f1ows through Wilddcat Mountain State Park. Other developments along the stream include a dam at La Farge, a trailer court, picnic site, municipal parks, and a campground. Many road crossings and a developed canoe landing at Ontario provide access. A flood control dam near La Farge is in the development stage; the Corps of Engineers is in charge of the project. It is estimated that this project will cost 20 million dollars. It involves 10,000 acres of land and includes a 1,780-acre impoundment surrounded by 15 different recreational sites totaling 1,500 acres. The State will maintain recreational areas created by the construction of the dam. There are about 48 acres of adjoining wetland along the river. t1uskrat are significant and beaver are present. Ma11ard, teal. and wood duck broods may be observed along the stream, and a number of migrant puddle and diving ducks use the water.

From: Klick, Thomas A. and Threinen, C.W. 1973. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Vernon County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1973

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Kickapoo River, Upper Kickapoo River Watershed (LW06) Fish and Aquatic LifeKickapoo River, Upper Kickapoo River Watershed (LW06) RecreationKickapoo River, Upper Kickapoo River Watershed (LW06) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Kickapoo River showed impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data at the above stream segment (AU 5782086) exceed 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, this water segment of the Kickapoo River (miles 107.83-112.26) is proposed for the impaired waters list.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Kickapoo River (Unnamed Tributary (1201900) to Sleighton Creek, miles 112.26-119.4) showed 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, this water is proposed for the impaired waters list.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Kickapoo River (miles 19.05-25.45) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceed 2018 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.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Condition

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'.

Reports

Recommendations

Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Category 2. 2018 TP Results: May Exceed. Station: 10017969. AU: 13207.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Category 3. 2018 TP Results: May Exceed. Station: 10029649. AU: 887133.
Monitor with Baseline Survey
Water chemistry, fish, habitat, and macroinvertebrate data collections to assess resources in the Moore Creek Watershed.
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Monitor Fish Tissue
1182400 name Kickapoo River TMDL ID 220 Start Mile 19.05 End Mile 25.45
Monitor Fish Tissue
WRM should monitor fish for the presence of toxic substances in the Kickapoo River above the Gays Mills dam (Type B).

Standards Details

This water, from CTH B/Tainter Creek in Crawford County to the Vernon-Monroe county line at Ontario, is a Class II Troutwater.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Management Goals

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

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

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Kickapoo River is located in the Upper Kickapoo River watershed which is 117.33 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (58%), forest (35%) and a mix of suburban (5%) and other uses (2%). This watershed has 267.92 stream miles, 29.35 lake acres and 698.36 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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.

Natural Community

Kickapoo River is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.