Castle Rock Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09)
Castle Rock Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09)
Fennimore Fork (Castle Rock) (1211300)
4.25 Miles
17.14 - 21.39
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, Cool-Cold Mainstem
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.
2015
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Water Quality Use Restrictions, Degraded Habitat
Total Phosphorus, Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
 
Grant
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.
Yes

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.
Class III Trout
Streams capable of supporting a seasonal coldwater sport fishery and which may be managed as coldwater streams.
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
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. 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

Castle Rock Creek (also known as Fennimore Creek) (WBIC 1211300) from mile 15.5
to mile 26 and the entire 4 mile length of Gunderson Valley Creek (WBIC 1212600), a
tributary to Castle Rock Creek are included on Wisconsin’s 2002 section 303(d) list of
impaired waters.1 The streams are located in northeastern Grant County, Wisconsin
and are part of the Blue River Watershed. The Blue River flows to the Lower
Wisconsin River. Castle Rock Creek downstream from the impaired segment is
designated as a state Outstanding Resource Water. Both streams were listed as a high
priority for TMDL development on the October 2002 303(d) list.

Castle Rock Creek was listed as impaired due to degraded habitat due to sedimentation
that limited the stream’s coldwater fishery to the extent that the stream’s designated use
was not met. In addition, Castle Rock Creek has a substantial amount of filamentous
algae that is not found in nearby trout streams. Gunderson Valley Creek has similar
sedimentation problems, substantial diurnal fluctuations in dissolved oxygen and
common exceedances of the dissolved oxygen criterion in Wisconsin’s water quality
standards. Based on these impairments, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
allocations are prepared for sediment and phosphorus for both streams. These TMDLs
are intended to determine the maximum amount of pollutants that can enter the stream
and still allow water quality standards to be met.


The impaired segment of Castle Rock Creek has a designed use of coldwater fishery.
Currently, it supports a class III trout fishery with the potential to support a class II
trout fishery. The trout stream classes are defined in s. NR 1.02(7), Wis. Adm. Code
for fish management purposes as follows:
Class 2. Streams in this classification may have some natural reproduction, but
not enough to utilize available food and space. Therefore, stocking is required to
maintain a desirable sport fishery. These streams have good survival and
carryover of adult trout, often producing some fish larger than average size.
Class 3. These waters are marginal trout habitat with no natural reproduction
occurring. They require annual stocking of trout to provide trout fishing.
Generally, there is no carryover of trout from one year to the next.
For purposes of listing waters on the 303(d) list, class III trout waters with the potential
to be class II or class I waters are listed as impaired.
The water quality of Castle Rock Creek is described in a report entitled “Castle Rock
Creek TMDL Project Final [Monitoring] Report”. In this report, for example, the
Index of Biological Integrity for three sites on Castle Rock Creek have a score of 10
(poor). As stated in the report:
“The low IBI scores, high abundance of eurythermal species, and the low
abundance of Mottled Sculpin indicated degraded conditions with the stream at
all the sites surveyed ....”
From the monitoring surveys of Castle Rock Creek there are two factors that are the
most significant relative to the degraded conditions. One is the abundance of sediment
covering the bed of the stream. Sediment covering the bed of a stream often hinders
spawning, limits habitat for certain aquatic insects that may be food sources for trout
and can reduce the volume for trout when pools are filled, especially cool water areas
in low water periods or very hot weather. Near the confluence with Gunderson Valley
Creek, there is a significant sediment deposit filling a pool of up to four feet in depth.
The other is presence of filamentous algae in the stream indicating high levels of
nutrients according to EPA’s “ Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Manual: Rivers
and Streams” (see, for example Chapter 6). Filamentous algae may cause a reduction
in dissolved oxygen at predawn periods in the summer and reduces the volume where
trout may be.

Date  2006

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Nutrient levels during base flow periods vary by segment of the stream. At an
upstream location (Baumgartner Road), the mean of the total phosphorus concentrations
during the 2001 growing season was 0.17 mg/l. At a location downstream of the
confluence with Gunderson Valley Creek, the mean values for the same period of time
are 0.30 mg/l; nearly double the upstream concentrations. The nutrient levels are
particularly high during runoff events where total phosphorus concentrations at both
upstream and downstream location were about 6 mg/l on June 3, 2002 and about 2.5
mg/l on June 11, 2002. Temperature levels are at the maximum level for trout waters.
The monitoring surveys did not find any substantial exceedance of the 6 mg/l dissolved
oxygen water quality standards criterion. Castle Rock Creek does exhibit a diurnal
swing of dissolved oxygen levels due to primary productivity in the stream. For
example, in June through August 2001 at one site and July through August in 2002 at a
second site the maximum dissolved oxygen concentration was between 10 and 11 mg/l.
The minimum concentration at the same sites was between 6 and 7 mg/l. BOD5
values, an indication of organic pollutant load was low during base flow periods, but
high during runoff events.
Based on this information, the TMDLs for Castle Rock Creek are developed for
sediment to address the degraded habitat situation and for phosphorus to address the
concerns with filamentous algae. There is no “critical” period for the sedimentation
concern. The sediment is present throughout the year, although sediment loads from
the watershed do come from runoff events. The “critical” period for phosphorus is
summer base flow conditions. However, the phosphorus loads from runoff events -
especially those in the growing season - are the source of the base flow phosphorus
loads. There are no continuous discharge sources of phosphorus in the watershed.

Date  2006

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

1980 trout class 2 reach, plus the segment from Church Road to Tormey Road (class 3).

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

In an effort to further address water quality concerns, a group of local landowners and other interested individuals in the Castle Rock Creek area got together to form the Castle Rock Creek Watershed Committtee. The committee recently applied for and was granted a River Planning Grant from the WDNR. The grant has been used to help the Committee and others better understand the nature of the stream and the threats to the water quality and aquatic habitat in the creek. To see some of the data they have collected, visit their website at http://members.tripod.com/nohrchapter/monitor_home.htm.
In addition, with help from funding thought the state's Targeted Runoff Management program (TRM), there have been other efforts by Grant County and other partners to reduce nonpoint source pollution and improve water quality. Funding through this project has been used to reduce nonpoint source pollution through the installation of best management practices on the land. These practices include critical area stabilization, shoreline/streambank protection, barnyard runoff management, fencing, waterways, dams, and rotational grazing.
Partners in the Castle Rock Creek area have also received a grant form the EPA to conduct intensive chemical and flow monitoring on the creek. This data will be used to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) model for the stream. The model will help the state and all partners determine what reduction in nonpoint source pollution is needed to improve the stream and remove the impaired segment of the stream from the EPA's impaired waters list. There is a USGS gauging station on the creek at Homer Road.

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

Overview

This stream is better known by its local name, Castle Rock Creek. About 6.5 miles of its 26-
mile length are Class II trout waters and thought of as the best trout waters in Grant County.
This section of the stream is also considered an outstanding resource water (ORW). Baseline
monitoring was conducted in 2000, and the 5 miles above Church Road was determined to be
a Class III trout stream. Downstream of the Class II trout water, the stream is a warm water
sport fishery. There are some state easements on Castle Rock Creek where Doc Smith Branch
enters the stream that were purchased through the state streambank easement program. This
program allows the state to purchase easements along streams as a way of establishing
buffers. Public access on these easements is not allowed.
The stream has been ranked as a high priority for nonpoint source pollution reduction. The
Class III trout water and the headwaters of the stream are on the list of ýimpaired watersý due
to nonpoint source pollution. Intensive agriculture occurs along the length of the stream and
the threat of nonpoint source pollution comes from grazing, the trampling of streambanks,
runoff from nearby barnyards and cultivated fields, and improper manure storage and
handling. Some of the unnamed tributaries to Castle Rock Creek have nonpoint source water
pollution problems as well, including barnyards adjacent to the stream and cattle access to the
stream. The lower reaches of the stream have sedimentation problems. The stream also
experiences heavy fishing pressure.
In 1999, water quality/fisheries monitoring surveys were conducted to document fish
community health prior to a stream stabilization project just above Homer Road. In July, the
survey found fish community health to be poor and few coldwater indicator species were
present. Poor habitat was part of the reason. The banks were eroded due to heavy grazing
and sediment deposition filled in pools and covered runs. Stream temperatures in the area
were thought to be high. Little streambank vegetation existed. In August and September,
water quality surveys found fluctuating dissolved oxygen and pH levels that are typically an
indication of algal growth. Temperature levels were found to be not optimal for trout streams.
A streambank rip-rap demonstration project was completed on the stream. No post-project
monitoring has yet been conducted to determine if the project has had any noticeable positive
impacts.

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 stream is better known by its local name, Castle Rock Creek. About 6.5 miles of its 26-mile length are Class II trout waters (WDNR, 1980). Downstrem of the trout water the stream is considered a warm water sport fishery stream (Smith, 1971) . The Class II trout waters portion of the stream are also ERW waters. Intensive agriculture occurs the length of the stream. This includes grazing and trampling of streambanks, runoff from nearby barnyards and cultivated fields, and manure handling (Kerr, WDNR, Vollrath, 1991, Sehlesser 1991-1992) A major fishkill occurred in 1987 after a heavy rain. Nonpoint sources were thought to be the cause (WDNR, Kerr, 1991). At least some of the unnamed tributaries to Fennimore Fork have nonpoint source water pollution problems as well, including barnyards adjacent to the stream and cattle access to the stream (WDNR, 1991). The lower reaches of the stream have sedimentation problems (Schlesser, 1991-1992. Manure storage and handling have been problems in some areas of the sub-watershed (WDNR, 1991).

Date  1994

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

From Witek Road to Church Road (class 2).

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

From: Smith, Tom D., and Ball, Joseph R., Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Grant County, Department of Natural Resources, 1972. Surface Area = 32.0 acres, Length = 22.0 miles, Gradient = 18 ft./mile, Flow = 36.5 c.f.s.

An excellent spring-fed stream beginning near the city limits of Fennimore and flowing northeast to enter the mid-section of the Blue River. The upper eight miles of stream is relatively small but after reaching the Swenson Spring it widens out into a scenic trout stream. This spring is the largest and most picturesque spring in Grant County. It could be described as a bubbling brook pouring from the side of a hill. The portion of the stream from this spring downstream for 3.5 miles is commonly known as Castle Rock Creek. It is named after the attractive rock formation overlooking the small Community of Castle Rock. It is also considered to be the best trout water in Grant County. Brook, brown, and rainbow fingerling and yearling are stocked. Fishing pressure is heavy throughout the season and many fish are take~ a few of trophy size. Three of its major spring-fed tributaries are also classified as good trout water.

Although the stream banks and channel show the effects of decades of erosion, trout and forage species find the large pools and long riffle areas ideally suited for growth and survival. Smallmouth bass inhabit the more sluggish water in the lower reaches. The high value of this stream is based on the high productivity, fishing pressure, state equity, potential for improvement, and high quality recreation.

Some habitat protection has been initiated by riprapping selected eroded stream banks. One or two flood control structures are planned for the upper reaches and a recreational pool of 265 acres is scheduled for the mid-section, one mile north of Castle Rock. Development of a county park is also planned around this lake. Some trout water will be lost by building this lake but additional trout habitat may be created below the structure as the outflow will be released fr~m ~he cooler depths of the pool. A cheese factory located above trout water is a potential pollution problem. This cheese factory was convicted for polluting the large Swenson Spring in the summer of 1969. Water from the spring was declared unsafe to drink.

Game assets include muskrats, mink, raccoon, squirrels, red and gray fox, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, and a few puddle ducks. Adjoining wetlands total 173 acres. Trout stream easements provide 2.25 mile of public frontage. Access is also possible from the Blue River and 14 bridge crossings. About 30 farm dwellings adjoin the stream.

Date  1972

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Castle Rock Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09) Fish and Aquatic LifeCastle Rock Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09) RecreationCastle Rock Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Fennimore Fork (Castle Rock, Witek Rd to Church Rd.) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; 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 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and not considered impaired. It was proposed that this water be identified as a new Category 2 water.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

The Castle Rock Creek (Church Rd. To Tormey Rd.) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; available biological data indicated impairment (i.e. at least one macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category) based on the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, temperature data did not exceed thresholds. This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

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

Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Castle Rock and Gunderson Creek TMDL was created to address phosphorus, sediment, and for at least one creek biological oxygen demand.
TMDL Development
Castle Rock and Gunderson Creek TMDL was created to address phosphorus, sediment, and for at least one creek biological oxygen demand.

Standards Details

This water is a Class II trout segment, from Witek Rd to Church Rd.

Date  2009

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

Castle Rock Creek is located in the Blue River watershed which is 216.19 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (51%), forest (37%) and a mix of suburban (5%) and other uses (6%). This watershed has 513.46 stream miles, 416.83 lake acres and 5,825.06 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Fennimore Fork (Castle Rock) is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem 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) Mainstem streams are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

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.