Monroe, Richland, Vernon
Fish and Aquatic Life
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.
Author Cynthia Koperski
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.
Author Aquatic Biologist
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.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
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.
Author Ashley Beranek
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.
Author Ashley Beranek
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.
Author Ashley Beranek
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'.
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.
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).
This water, from CTH B/Tainter Creek in Crawford County to the Vernon-Monroe county line at Ontario, is a Class II Troutwater.
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|
|5030650||Unnamed||10035283||Unnamed - Area of Open Water||6/22/2010||9/10/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10014245||Kickapoo River Station 1 - Sth 131 Crossing In Sw 1/4 Of S35||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10013171||Kickapoo River Remap 1360||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10015308||Kickapoo River - 1999 Station #3 Old Bridge 12 Abutment||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032187||Kickapoo River - Off HWY 131 - Bridge 5 Landing 5 ||9/19/2010||9/19/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10009890||Kickapoo River - Kickapoo River #1-1999||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10015310||Kickapoo River - 1999 Station 4 Upper End Of Rock Face Cliff To Old Powerlines Kvr||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032195||Kickapoo River - Viola City Campground 1000 ft upstream of HWY 131 Bridge||9/21/2010||9/21/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032196||Kickapoo River - South of Viola near HWY 131 160 ft upstream of confluence and unnamed tributary||9/22/2010||10/30/2014||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041718||Kickapoo River Landing - Off Cnty Rd P south of Rockton||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10015367||Kickapoo River Station 1 - 2000 Hwy 56 Bridge Near Viola||8/7/1991||9/9/2011||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||633192||Kickapoo River - Wildcat Mountain State Park Beach||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10030965||Kickapoo River -- Wildcat Mountain State Park Canoe Launch||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032190||Kickapoo River - Kickapoo Valley Reserve Bridge 18 (covered bridge at intersection of old HWY 131 and the Kickapoo River||9/20/2010||9/20/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10043662||Kickapoo River Hay Valley Rd||9/8/2014||9/8/2014||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||533027||Kickapoo River - Banker Park In Viola||6/4/1991||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||633066||Kickapoo River at Sth 82 At La Farge WI||7/15/1991||8/30/2004||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10016769||Kickapoo River - 50 Ft Below Hwy 131 Bridge Neardobbs Valley Rd||10/9/1997||10/9/1997||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10016770||Kickapoo River - ~ 50 Ft Below 131 Bridge Neardobbs Valley Rd||4/30/1997||4/30/1997||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10029683||Kickapoo River St. 6 - 2008 at Hwy 131||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032194||Kickapoo River - 1250 ft NNW of intersection of River Road and Welker Hollow Rd||9/21/2010||9/21/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041716||Kickapoo River Landing - N of Ct Rd F on 131||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041717||Kickapoo River Landing - Off Cnty Rd P||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||633064||Kickapoo River - Sth 33 In Ontario||6/19/1990||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||633077||Kickapoo River - W Fork Hwy 56||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10016768||Kickapoo River - 50 Ft Below Bridge On Sth 131about 2 Miles South Of Ontario - Neardobbs Valley Rd.||4/21/1994||4/21/1994||Map||Data|
|1028300||Unnamed||10035283||Unnamed - Area of Open Water||6/22/2010||9/10/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10015312||Kickapoo River - 1999 Station 4b Powerlines Off Of Hwy 131 To Dam Tower||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||633191||Kickapoo River at Gibson Valley Rd||8/30/2004||8/30/2004||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032188||Kickapoo River - Off HWY 131 - Bridge 10 Landing 10||9/19/2010||9/19/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032189||Kickapoo River - Kickapoo Valley Reserve Campsite I (1170 ft south of intersection of Cty P and Old HWY 131) ||9/20/2010||9/20/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032191||Kickapoo River - at La Farge HWY 82 Bridge||10/23/1998||9/20/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032197||Kickapoo River - Kettner Riverfront Cabins - In front of Tree Cabin||9/22/2010||9/22/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032198||Kickapoo River - 1500 ft downstream of HWY 131 Bridge||9/22/2010||9/22/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041714||Kickapoo River Landing - Off 131||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041719||Kickapoo River Landing - Off Cty Rd P - NW of Corps Rd.||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041720||Kickapoo River - La Farge Canoe Launch||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10031127||Kickapoo River at 131 [1360-B]||8/28/2012||8/28/2012||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032199||Kickapoo River - 100 ft downstream of confluence with West Fork of the Kickapoo||9/22/2010||9/22/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10016772||Kickapoo River - 50 Ft. Below Bridge On Sth 131approx. 2 Miles South Of Ontario||4/25/1990||4/25/1990||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10009951||Kickapoo River #2-1999 Starts At Bridge 8 Of Hwy 131/Winchel Valley Rd||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10020736||Kickapoo River-Old Hwy 131 North In Lafarge||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10029652||Kickapoo River St. 11 - 2008 just N of the end of Main St||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10029684||Kickapoo River St. 5 - 2008 (S of Hwy P)||8/11/2011||8/11/2011||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10032192||Kickapoo River - 1500 ft upstream of HWY 131 Bridge||9/20/2010||9/20/2010||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||423061||Kickapoo River - Sth 131 1/2 Mi No Ontario||5/13/1979||11/6/1979||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10015313||Kickapoo River - 1999 Station 5 Just Below Old Dam To Bridge In La Farge||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041713||Kickapoo River Landing - Brey Valley Road||Map||Data|
|1182400||Kickapoo River||10041715||Kickapoo River Landing - N of Dobbs Valley Road on 131||Map||Data|
Kickapoo River is located in the Middle Kickapoo River watershed which is 246.53 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (49%), agricultural (43%) and a mix of suburban (5%) and other uses (3%). This watershed has 585.18 stream miles, 145.14 lake acres and 3,360.69 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.