Fish and Aquatic Life
Hardies Creek, a five mile tributary to the Black River, originates in southern Trempealeau County. A portion of this stream is Class III trout. Brook trout, forage fish, white sucker, and burbot have been documented in Hardies Creek. Streambank erosion due to livestock grazing and cropland erosion contribute to the sediment load of the stream. In-stream habitat ratings improved at two sites sampled after implementation of the priority watershed project (Ball and Kroner). A post implementation fishery survey documented two year classes of brook trout, which indicates the occurrence of natural reproduction (WDNR, 1988).
From: Koperksi, Cindy. 1999. Black River Water Quality Management Plan (draft). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Hardies Creek is approximately five-miles long, located in the southeast portion of Trempealeau County in western Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) placed the lower 3.541 miles of Hardies Creek on the state’s 303(d) impaired waters list in 1998 as low priority due to degraded habitat caused by excessive sedimentation. The Clean Water Act and US EPA regulations require that each state develop TMDLs for waters on the Section 303(d) list. The purpose of this TMDL is to identify load allocations and management actions that will help restore the biological integrity of Hardies Creek.
Hardies Creek flows southeast into the Black River, south of North Bend, Wisconsin. It has a moderate gradient, draining 11.7 square miles. The headwaters, upstream segment (1.37 miles) of Hardies Creek is currently meeting the designated use of Class III trout stream. The lower 3.54 miles of Hardies Creek (Segments 1 and 2) are currently listed as warm water forage fishery with potential to meet a Class II or Class III trout stream.
Land use in the watershed is dominated by upland forest with steep wooded hills and some lowland pasture and agricultural cropland. Habitat surveys from the 1950s and 1960s indicate fair habitat for brook trout with no references to excessive bank erosion or sedimentation. The following was recorded in a Reconnaissance Survey from the Wisconsin Conservation Department, July 7, 1950:
'This is a brook trout stream suited to fingerling stocking, or yearlings may
be stocked if fishing pressure warrants. There are 2 ½ miles of trout water
having an average width of 3 feet. Pools are generally absent in this stream, but overhanging bank cover of alder, willow, and grasses, undercut banks and aquatic vegetation provides amply shelter for brook trout. The bank cover is mostly fair except for the upper reaches where it is generally poor. As the stream passes through pasture lands the water flows at a moderate rate over a bottom consisting of mainly sand with some gravel.'
In the 1980s, the upper portions of Hardies Creek still provided fair in-stream habitat although some impacts of agricultural impacts were observed. Fish assemblages in the headwaters indicated stable coldwater temperatures sufficient to support a stocked brook trout population with some limited reproduction. However, the lower portion of Hardies Creek was clearly impacted by agricultural practices. At station2, field notes remarked:
'This section was grazed heavily and the banks of the creek were all trampled down. This section was very wide and shallow and only 1 fish was encountered. When asking permission to shock, the landowner thought we were there to complain about his barnyard. His barnyard appears to have several fences that aren’t working properly, this allows cattle free access to the creek. I report seeing cow feces right in the creek. Only one longnose dace was captured.' (August 25, 1988, DNR Stream Survey Station Report)
Poor agricultural practices and cattle access to the creek directly affect the biological community and prevent the creek from obtaining its designated use as a coldwater stream. Historical deposits of sediment impact Hardies Creek through stream bank erosion and degraded habitat. The fish community is depressed with low numbers and low diversity. Many of the fish surveys did not collect the prerequisite 25 fish to calculate a valid IBI (although included in Appendix C, these IBIs are flagged as invalid). The coldwater fish species present in Hardies Creek like brook trout, American lamprey and burbot, are consistent with monitored continuous water temperature data indicating the potential to be a cold water trout stream with improvement of habitat by stabilization of the streambanks.
Author Aquatic Biologist
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'.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Hardies Creek Project for impaired waters monitoring. The Hardies Creek TMDL is approved.
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|
Hardies Creek is located in the Lower Black River watershed which is 189.82 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (35%), agricultural (34%) and a mix of wetland (12%) and other uses (19%). This watershed has 383.70 stream miles, 1,042.10 lake acres and 17,676.19 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.