Fish and Aquatic Life
The White River forms at the confluence of the East, West and South Forks of the White River. It is considered a Class I trout stream for brook and brown trout for the first two miles down to Pike's Branch at the Section 21/22 line. From this point to the White River Flowage in Ashland County, and then from the outlet of the flowage to the river mouth, is considered Class II trout water, with the reach up to the dam supporting migratory species from Lake Superior. The Class I portion is an outstanding resource water. From the Section 21/22 line to the boundary of the Bad River Indian Reservation, the stream is considered an exceptional resource water.
The White River Fishery Area was created through easements to provide a public fishing area in the upper reaches above Bibon Marsh. This stretch of the White River is characterized by shifting sands with marl shelves found in places. Bibon Marsh is a state natural area and identified as an important Lake Superior habitat and priority wetland. The community of Grand View discharges its effluent via an unnamed feeder and Twenty Mile Creek to Bibon Marsh. Some elevated levels of suspended solids have been found near the discharge, but not above standards. There is little water quality data on this discharge.
As the river passes through the marsh and down to the White River Flowage, it collects the waters of Long Lake Branch and its tributaries and Schramm Creek. The river picks up discoloration here from the underlying red clay soils and while still a cold water stream is less productive for trout. Bottom types are mostly clay, with areas of sand, gravel, silt and rubble.
Several of the White River's feeder streams are considered trout waters. Most of the feeders to the river in this downstream portion are either intermittent or considered warm water forage fishery waters. The entire river system is popular with waterfowl for nesting and during migration.
Northern States Power operates a 49-foot head dam that creates the White River Flowage. Downstream from the flowage the river flows mostly through red clay soils until it meets the Bad River near Odanah, with an unstable sand and clay bottom. The two major resource issues at the White River Project are minimum flows to the bypassed reach and headwater elevation maintenance (Scheirer). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in its relicensing process has ordered Northern States Power to conduct a qualitative flow study in consultation with the natural resource agencies to determine what minimum flows are necessary to maintain aquatic life and aesthetics in the bypassed reach of the project (Scheirer). Based on study from May, 1994, WDNR, Northern States Power and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) each proposed different flow recommendations. Due to the marginal profitability of the project, the need for power and the adequate condition of the fishery, FERC in its Draft Environmental Assessment determined that Northern States Power should maintain as sufficient the existing leakage from the spillgates to the bypassed reach, which was measured as between .25 and .35 cubic feet per second (cfs). Both WDNR and USFWS vigorously opposed the conclusion as not protective of the resource. WDNR had recommended a minimum flow of 16 cfs year-round, and USFWS had recommended 16 cfs in winter and 27 cfs in spring, summer and fall. In the new license, FERC reversed its earlier conclusion and ordered Northern States Power to implement the minimum flow recommendation submitted by USFWS.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Aquatic Invasive Species Removal
White River Flowage - removed five garbage bags full.
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|
|2892500||White River||10019613||White River -- Access at Pike River Rd||Map||Data|
|2892500||White River||10022566||White River - 50 Meters Upstream Pike River Rd - Station #1 (2007)||6/13/2014||11/5/2014||Map||Data|
White River is located in the White River watershed which is 366.15 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (70%), wetland (11%) and a mix of grassland (6%) and other uses (12%). This watershed has 472.79 stream miles, 7,218.85 lake acres and 29,057.91 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.