Bear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LW14)
Bear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LW14)
Bear Creek (1234600)
10.04 Miles
8.21 - 18.25
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 Mainstem, Cool-Warm 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.
2013
Unknown
 
Richland, Sauk
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 II Trout)
Streams 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 through natural reproduction and selective propagation. 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 II Trout)
Streams 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 through natural reproduction and selective propagation. 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.
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.

Overview

Bear Creek rises in western Sauk County and flows south, meeting the Wisconsin River west of Lone Rock in Richland County. About 12 of its 27 stream miles are classified as Class II trout waters and the stream supports some natural reproduction of brook and brown trout. The Sauk County portion of the stream has better trout stream habitat. It has been recommended that the trout water should begin above Highway 130 and reach 12.2 miles into Sauk County.

The lower eight miles of Bear Creek are considered warm water sport fishery waters and smallmouth bass, northern pike and catfish may enter the lower reaches from the Wisconsin River. A rare aquatic species has been found in the creek in past surveys. Portions of the creek have been straightened resulting in lost habitat, temperature increases, and sedimentation problems in some areas, particularly in the stream's lower reaches. Some extensive wetland areas exist along Bear Creek. These wetlands buffer the creek and provide habitat. Baseline monitoring was conducted on the stream in 2001.

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

Bear Creek rises in western Sauk County and flows south, meeting the Wisconsin River
west of Lone Rock. About 12 of its 27 stream nliles are classified as Class II trout waters
(WDNR, 1980). The lower eight miles are considered warm water sport fishery waters
(WDNR, 1991). The Richland County portion of the waterslaed is thought to have a high
potential for water quality due to soil erosion and livestock (Eagan, 1985~). Sediment is
a suspected water quality problem particularly in the streams lower reaches (Eagan, 1985,
WDNR, 1991, Schlesser, 1991-1992). Some cattle access the stream (WDNR 1991).
Portions of the stream were straightened resulting in lost habitat, temperature
increases, and sedimentation problems in some areas (Eagan, 1985 ). Some extensive
wetlands areas exist which buffer the creek and provide habitat (WDNR, 1991). A state
fishery area has been proposed for portions of the creek (WDNR, 1991).

Date  1994

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Bear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LW14) Fish and Aquatic LifeBear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LW14) RecreationBear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LW14) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Bear Creek (Pumpkin Hollow Creek to the headwaters) 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.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

General Condition

Bear Creek is a clear, hard water stream that flows in a westerly direction and joins the Kickapoo River at La Farge. It heads at the junction of the North and South Branches of the stream. Bear Creek is managed as Class III brown trout water. Many forage species and brook lamprey are also found. The winter aerial groundwater survey found a small amount of open water near the mouth of the creek. Sand is the dominant bottom type, but there is considerable rubble, some silt, and a little hardpan and gravel. Bank erosion is severe. The Kickapoo River and one road crossing provides access. Muskrat are significant and a small number of migrant puddle ducks use the stream.

Bear Creek, T13N, R2W, Section 32. Surface Acres = 2.9, Miles = 1.6, Gradient = 20.0 feet per mile.

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

Date  1973

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of Bear Creek (miles 0-8.2) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded the 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 the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Bear Creek (1234600) from the mouth to the second crossing of Highway 130 (0 - 8 miles) was listed for total phosphorus impairment in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceed 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do 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.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

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

Water Quality Planning
Bear Creek (LW14) Watershed Planning
TMDL Monitoring
Propose Bear Creek for TMDL monitoring.
Restore Wetlands
Restore filled, ditched and drained wetlands along Bear Creek and its tributaries through WRP and EQIP programs offered by Richland and Sauk County NRCS and by other cost-sharing programs such as CREP, US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and easements.
Trout Classification Mgmt
Increase the trout stream mileage in the Sauk County portion of Bear Creek.
Rivers Management Grant
Funding for stream restoration projects could also be obtained from the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), and State Targeted Runoff Management (TRM) grants.
Easement/Buffer
Land should be acquired or easements purchased from willing buyers along the Bear and Little Bear Creeks to aid in habitat improvement work.
Monitor Targeted Area
Monitor sloughs more closely to help determine cause of nutrient loads, excessive filamentous algae growth, and levels of nitrates.

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

Bear Creek is located in the Bear Creek watershed which is 136.54 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (42%), forest (41%) and a mix of wetland (7%) and other uses (9%). This watershed has 236.07 stream miles, 119.46 lake acres and 6,798.61 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.

Natural Community

Bear Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm 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.

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