North Fork Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02)
North Fork Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02)
Esofea Branch (1641700)
19.02 Miles
12.15 - 31.17
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.
Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Headwater, 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.
2015
Good
 
Vernon
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

The North Fork of the Bad Axe River, located in west central Vernon County just west of Viroqua, flows for approximately 23 miles in a southwesterly direction before meeting the South Fork to form the Bad Axe River. It has a slight gradient of 21 feet per mile and drains steep forests as well as ridgetop and valley agricultural lands. The 45 acre Runge Hollow Lake results from storage of water behind the wet flood control structure located approximately 15 miles upstream from the mouth of the North Fork. The eight or so miles of the North Fork above Runge Hollow lake is locally known as Esofea Branch. The North Fork of the Bad Axe River is classified as warm water sport fish from its mouth upstream to CTH "O". Above CTH "O", the North Fork is a Class II trout stream for approximately nine miles. Stream surveys conducted between 1991and 1994 documented a very diverse fishery which included brown trout, rainbow trout, northern pike, black and yellow bullhead, burbot, rockbass, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, bluegill, smallmouth and largemouth bass, yellow perch, sauger, walleye, and a variety of forage fish. The major problem affecting the North Fork Bad Axe fishery is lack of in-stream cover, largely due to poor bank stability. In-stream habitat improvements such as rock rip- rap, creation of deep pools, as well as sloping and seeding of streambanks should improve the population of smallmouth bass in the North Fork of the Bad Axe River.

From: Koperski, Cindy. 2002. The State of the Bad Axe - La Crosse Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

Bad Axe River, North Fork, T12N, R7W, Section 12. Surface Acres = 66.9, Miles = 23.0, Gradient = 21.5 feet per m1le.
A clear. hard water stream that flows in a southwesterly direction and joins the South Fork Bad Axe River to form the main stem of the stream. Locally. that portion of the North Fork above the junction of the Springville Branch and heading in Section 35 northeast of Esofea is often called the Esofea Branch of the Bad Axe River. From the bridge crossing at Newton upstream. the stream is managed as Class III brown trout water; from C.T.H. "Y" crossing downstream to Romance. the stream is considered smallmouth bass water. In addition to these species. sauger. black crappie. white crappie. channel catfish. carp. and many species of minnows and other forage fish are present. A winter aerial groundwater survey found scattered open water areas throughout this fork. Sand is the dominant bottom type with rubble, gravel, boulder, silt, detritus, clay, and bedrock present in order of abundance. There is access to the stream from several road crossings and from Rentz Memorial County Park. There are about 25.6 acres of adjoining wetland. Muskrat are significant and beaver are present. Broods of wood ducks, mallards, and teal may be observed along the stream, and migrant diving and dabbler 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

North Fork Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02) Fish and Aquatic LifeNorth Fork Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02) RecreationNorth Fork Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The North Fork of the Bad Axe River (Esofea Branch) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

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

Lakes Planning Grant
1641700 North Fork Bad Axe River 1642400 Runge Hollow Lake
Habitat Restoration - Instream
The North Fork Bad Axe River would benefit from the in stream river restoration.

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

North Fork Bad Axe River is located in the Bad Axe River watershed which is 195.49 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (55%), forest (37%) and a mix of suburban (6%) and other uses (3%). This watershed has 468.27 stream miles, 489.81 lake acres and 2,552.28 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. 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

Esofea Branch is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Headwater, 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 (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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.