Fish and Aquatic Life
The Bark River is a medium-sized spring-fed trout stream that flows north into Bark Bay. The entire river supports reproducing trout, including many migratory runs from Lake Superior, and has been classified as an outstanding resource water. Stream bottom types vary, with the lower reaches mostly sand, gravel and clay, while the upper reaches consist of mixed sand, gravel and boulders. The upper reaches have a steep gradient through a ravine. Large amounts of debris have accumulated along this portion of the stream, which, if large and woody, may enhance habitat (Pratt 1996). The area supports nesting and migratory waterfowl. One characteristic of the river is extensive wetlands about 2.5 miles from the lake. The river flows through an area of cedar and white pine. The Lake Superior Binational Program identified this river as important to the integrity of the Lake Superior ecosystem for rare communities.
The river empties into Bark Bay, which is bounded by Roman Point to the east and Bark Point to the west. Bark Bay has a beach dunes landscape, with extensive coastal wetlands that feature a bog. The bay supports submergent vegetation. The extensive wetlands provide high quality habitat for wading birds and waterfowl. Shorebirds use the shoreline. The Ainland@ fishery in the wetland and lagoon area is a varied community of primarily warm water fish species. Spawning migratory rainbow trout use this area and the Bark River. The nearshore waters of Lake Superior provide spawning habitat for both lake trout and lake whitefish. This area is subject to some development. Several cabins have been built on a long, narrow sand spit that separates the lagoons from the lake. The land in the area is in both state (Bark Bay Natural Area) and private ownership. The Lake Superior Binational Program has identified this area as important to the integrity of the Lake Superior ecosystem for coastal wetlands, rare communities, rare habitat, habitat unique to the Great Lakes and fish and wildlife spawning and nursery grounds. The coastal wetland evaluation identified Bark Bay as a priority wetland site (see discussion, above).
During survey work conducted as part of the coastal wetlands evaluation, three rare species of macroinvertebrates were found and overall taxa richness was moderate (5-24 species) (Epstein 1997). The survey noted that bank erosion and turbidity may be potential problems.
From: Turville-Heitz, Meg. 1999. Lake Superior Basin Water Quality Management Plan. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Aquatic Biologist
The Bark River 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.
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'.
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
|Project Name (Click for Details)||Year Started|
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|2881000||Bark River||10047332||Bark River - D/S from confluence with Creek 13-12b (powerline trib)||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2881000||Bark River||10029307||Bark River and Bark Slough Confluence Channel||Map||Data|
|2881000||Bark River||10031927||Bark River just upstream of First Tributary||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2881000||Bark River||043121||Bark River - Bark River||7/10/1973||5/14/1974||Map||Data|
|2881000||Bark River||10015390||Bark River- 10 M Upstream Swedlund Rd- Station #2||5/10/2012||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2881000||Bark River||10015389||Bark River- 15 M Upstream Hwy 13- Station # 1||3/27/2007||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
Bark River is located in the Bayfield Peninsula Northwest watershed which is 236.05 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (77%), grassland (9%) and a mix of wetland (6%) and other uses (8%). This watershed has 473.06 stream miles, 43,216.55 lake acres and 6,677.27 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.