Bear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LC01)
Bear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LC01)
Bear Creek (2061900)
2.50 Miles
7.50 - 10
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-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.
2016
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Impairment Unknown
Total Phosphorus
 
Buffalo, Pepin
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 (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 headwaters of Bear Creek originate near Canton in Buffalo County and flow ovewr 16 and a half miles before dishcarging into the Chippewa River. The middle section of Bear Creek (mile 0.37 - 6.62) is classified as a Class II Trout water. This trout fishery is threatened by streambank grazing, whch causes bank erosion, and cropping to the stream's edge, whlch contributes additional sediment to Bear Creek. Periodic flooding also has an effect on in-stream habitat. The Durand Sportsman Club and the Soil Conservation Service have installed riprap along some banks of Bear Creek and conducted habitat restoration work (Holzer).

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Bear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LC01) Fish and Aquatic LifeBear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LC01) RecreationBear Creek, Bear Creek Watershed (LC01) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The Bear Creek (Pepin- Buffalo county line upstream to CTH V) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data clearly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds 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). 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

Impaired Waters

The Bear Creek (Mile 0 to 1.5)) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data clearly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds 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). 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

Impaired Waters

The Bear Creek (from STH 85 upstream to CTH V) 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. 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

Water Quality Planning
The Bear Creek Watershed covers 76.5 square miles in Buffalo and Pepin counties. Bear, Little Bear, and Spring creeks are the three primary sub-watersheds within the Bear Creek Watershed. The watershed drains rolling agricultural and wooded areas with many of the tributaries originating in steep coulees. The watershed also drains one urban area, the City of Durand. All streams within the Bear Creek Watershed drain the eastern slope of the Chippewa River Valley. The Bear Creek Watershed contains typical steep topography characteristic of the driftless or un-glaciated area of the state. Because the most productive and level land is on the valley floor, most farming takes place immediately adjacent to streams. Former prairie and a portion of the forested lands have been converted to agricultural uses. The quality of trout streams in this watershed have improved or degraded as agricultural uses have diminished or increased. Earlier editions of the Lower Chippewa River Water Quality Management Plan indicated the Nelson wastewater treatment plant and Nelson Cheese actory discharged to the Lower Chippewa Basin. Due to a basin oundary change, both are in the Buffalo- Trempealeau River Basin. The majority of the wetlands in the watershed are adjacent to the Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers.

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 176.55 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (40%), agricultural (37%) and a mix of wetland (14%) and other uses (9%). This watershed has 383.21 stream miles, 1,080.51 lake acres and 16,135.70 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low 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-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.