Adams Valley Creek, Little La Crosse River Watershed (BL05)
Adams Valley Creek, Little La Crosse River Watershed (BL05)
Adams Valley Creek (1653700)
2.57 Miles
0 - 2.57
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.
This river is impaired
Degraded Habitat
Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
La Crosse
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.
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.
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.

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 (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.


Adams Valley Creek is a spring-fed tributary to Burns Creek in eastern La Crosse County. It flows in a southwesterly direction for 2.5 miles before reaching Burns Creek. This stream has a slight gradient of 21 feet per mile and drains lowland farms and adjacent wooded hillsides. Adams Valley Creek is a Class II trout stream for the upper one mile and Class III for the lower 1.5 miles.

The most recent fish and habitat survey, completed in 2000, documented a stream bottom comprised mainly of sand with lesser amounts of clay, gravel and detritus. The riparian land use was largely meadow and pasture, however streambank erosion due to grazing was noted. In order of abundance, in-stream cover consisted of woody debris, overhanging vegetation, submergent vegetation and undercut banks. Both brook and brown trout as well as a variety of forage fish species and aquatic insects were documented. This stream was sporadically stocked from 1962 to 1994 with brook trout. Access is possible from two road crossings. Heavy bank erosion due to cattle access, lack of in-stream cover, and a predominantly silt and sand bottom are largely contributing to the problems seen in this stream. Consequently, Adams Valley Creek is listed as an impaired water of the state. (see discussion on Wisconsin impaired waters in Chapter 3 or at

In 1998, the La Crosse County Land Conservation Department initiated water chemistry testing of streams throughout La Crosse County. Baseflow conditions were targeted for testing as the most likely to show normal water quality conditions. Land Conservation staff sample streams four times annually when no rainfall or snowmelt has occurred during the previous 72 hours. Between 1998 and 2001, Adams Valley Creek never met the county phosphorus goal nor the county fecal coliform bacteria goal any sample taken. These data indicate a significant nutrient load that is likely also contributing to high bacterial counts. The county ranks Adams Valley Creek as the highest priority stream in the county on which to expend effort to reduce phosphorus and bacterial contamination.

To that end, the La Crosse County Land Conservation Department is currently working with landowners adjacent to Adams Valley Creek to reduce nutrients, sediment, and bacteria entering the stream from animal waste, adjacent cropland, and streambank erosion. Barnyard runoff management systems, livestock stream crossings, and streambank restoration are among some of the practices the county will install for minimal or no cost to landowners. The project period only lasts through December 2002.

La Crosse County should continue baseflow water chemistry monitoring of Adams Valley Creek to determine water quality trends after completion of work with landowners adjacent to Adams Valley Creek. The DNR should survey Adams Valley Creek after completion of the La Crosse County LCD project to document any fish or habitat changes.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Adams Valley Creek, Little La Crosse River Watershed (BL05) Fish and Aquatic LifeAdams Valley Creek, Little La Crosse River Watershed (BL05) RecreationAdams Valley Creek, Little La Crosse River Watershed (BL05) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Adams Valley Creek, mouth to mile 2.56, is on the 303d list for degraded habitat with the pollutants including Low DO and sediment/TSS. For the 2016 period assessment, the Coldwater FIBI should be used due to the naturally reproducing trout populations. However trout number were low < 25 needed for IBI calculation; the MIBI is excellent based on data from that time period.

Date  2014

Author  Kurt Rasmussen

Impaired Waters

The Adams Valley Creek 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 not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith


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 to Evaluate Projects
Survey Adams Valley Creek after completion of the La Crosse County LCD project to reduce non-point source runoff to document any fish or habitat changes.

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 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

Monitoring Studies

Fishery Survey 1973 - 101 Survey documented brook trout fingerlings, yearlings and adults. Survey determined Class II on upper 1.0 miles and Class III on lower 1.5 miles.

Fishery Survey 1993 - Comprehensive survey documented no brook trout and only 2 brown trout near the mouth. These fish likely originated in Burns Creek.

Fish and Habitat Survey 2000 - Baseline survey documented brook trout fingerlings, yearlings and adults on the upper end of Adams Valley Creek. A total of 5 brown trout were found near the mouth.

Baseflow Water Chemistry Data 1998-2001 - Highest fecal coliform levels and phosphorus concentrations in La Crosse County.

Consequently, in 1999 La Crosse County ranked Adams Valley Creek its highest priority to expend dollars on reducing non-point source pollution. The county successfully competed for a Targeted Runoff Management Grant. This grant targeted landowners in the Burns Creek and Adams Valley Creek watershed for improvement of land management practices. This TRM Grant is due to expire in Dec. 2002. WDNR plans to re-survey Adams Valley Creek in 2003 or 2004. The county plans to continue baseflow water quality monitoring of Adams Valley Creek.

Date  2004

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Watershed Characteristics

Adams Valley Creek is located in the Little La Crosse River watershed which is 240.79 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (46%), forest (44%) and a mix of suburban (6%) and other uses (4%). This watershed has 445.88 stream miles, 114.59 lake acres and 5,439.88 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

Adams Valley Creek 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.

Fish Species

From the mouth to the tributary in section 19 (class 3);
from the tributary in section 19 upstream 1.0 mile (class 2).

Date  1980

Author   Aquatic Biologist

More Interactive Maps