Fish and Aquatic Life
Elk Creek, located in central Vernon County and northwest Richland County, flows in a
northwesterly direction for 4.4 miles before reaching the Kickapoo River between Viola and
Readstown. This stream has a gradient of 46 feet per mile and drains forested hillsides and
agricultural valleys. Elk Creek is a Class I trout stream for its entire length in both Richland
(2.8 miles) and Vernon (1.6 miles) Counties. The Richland County portion of Elk Creek is
also designated as an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW).
The most recent biological surveys, conducted in 1987 and 1990, documented brown trout,
rainbow trout, brook trout and numerous forage fish species. The stream bottom was
dominated by gravel and sand. In-stream cover consisted of boulders, overhanging grasses
and aquatic vegetation. Streambank grazing of livestock was contributing sediment to the
stream. Elk Creek should be resurveyed after conclusion of the Middle Kickapoo River
Priority Watershed Project in 2004. This stream would benefit from the purchase of
streambank easements from willing sellers and the restoration of in-stream habitat.
Maintenance of WDNR owned lands adjacent to Elk Creek must include tree and brush
removal from streambanks to reduce beaver colonization. WDNR records indicate that Elk
Creek was stocked regularly with brown trout until 1988. Access to Elk Creek is from three
road crossings and WDNR owned land.
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
Elk Creek. T12~1. R3W. Section 35. Surface Acres = 3.0. Miles =.6. Gradient = 20.0 feet per mile
A clear. hard water stream that heads in Richland County. flows in a general northwesterly direction. and is a tributary of the Kickapoo River. That portion of the stream in Vernon County is Class III brown trout water. The winter aerial groundwater survey for Vernon County found scattered open water areas in the lower two-thirds of the stream. Gravel is the dominant bottom type. with considerable sand and rubble as well as some silt, clay, and boulders. Access is possible from two road crossings. Beaver are present.
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
Elk Creek (WBIC 1191700) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new temperature 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.
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'.
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|
|1191700||Elk Creek||10010892||Elk Creek - Elk Creek Li-60||11/11/2004||11/11/2004||Map||Data|
|1191700||Elk Creek||10017157||Elk Creek Station 1 (Game) - 191m Upstream From Field Bridge||Map||Data|
|1191700||Elk Creek||10010205||Elk Creek - Elk Creek St. #1 10m Upstream Of Field Bridge Off Of Cth U||10/11/2002||10/11/2002||Map||Data|
|1191700||Elk Creek||10033591||Elk Creek downstream of Springhouse||Map||Data|
|1191700||Elk Creek||10030530||Elk Creek Field Crossing above confluence||Map||Data|
|1191700||Elk Creek||10029666||Elk Creek at East River Rd.||10/19/2016||10/19/2016||Map||Data|
Elk Creek 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.