Watershed - Lower La Crosse River (BL04)
Lower La Crosse River Watershed

Details

The Lower La Crosse River Watershed is located entirely within La Crosse County and is approximately 93,096 acres in size, with 295 miles of streams and rivers, 1,187 acres of lakes and 5,642 acres of wetlands. The watershed is dominated by forests (37%) and agriculture (30%) and is ranked medium for nonpoint source issues affecting streams.

Date  2010

Population, Land Use

The Lower La Crosse River watershed contains the major population center of the Bad Axe - La Crosse River basin. The population radiates from the cities of La Crosse and Onalaska, which are located on the western edge of the watershed. This 126 square mile watershed contains all streams draining to the La Crosse River below the Lake Neshonoc dam, as well as Pammel Creek, which drains directly to the Mississippi River. Steep bluffs with exposed sandstone cliffs tower 700 feet or more over the City of La Crosse. East of the bluffs, the hills are farmed using contour strips while forests are found on the steepest slopes in the watershed. Most streams in the watershed flow through agriculturally dominant areas. Stormwater from the urban areas drain to Pammel Creek, La Crosse River, Mississippi River, or the La Crosse River marsh.

Date  2002

Nonpoint and Point Sources

The water quality of stormwater from both agricultural lands and urban areas can degrade in-stream habitat, water quality, and water temperature of streams in the Lower La Crosse River watershed. To address this concern, stormwater permits will be issued by the Wisconsin DNR to communities in the La Crosse urbanizing area in 2002. The La Crosse County Land Conservation Department enforces the La Crosse County animal waste ordinance designed to minimize water quality problems associated with agricultural stormwater.

Date  2002

Ecological Landscapes for Lower La Crosse River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

This watershed is located in the Western Coulee and Ridges Ecological Landscape in southwestern and west central Wisconsin and is characterized by its highly eroded, driftless topography and relatively extensive forested landscape. Soils are silt loams (loess) and sandy loams over sandstone residuum over dolomite. Several large rivers including the Wisconsin, Mississippi, Chippewa, Kickapoo and Black flow through or border the Ecological Landscape. Historical vegetation consisted of southern hardwood forests, oak savanna, scattered prairies, and floodplain forests and marshes along the major rivers. With Euro-American settlement, most of the land on ridgetops and valley bottoms was cleared of oak savanna, prairie, and level forest for agriculture. The steep slopes between valley bottom and ridgetop, unsuitable for raising crops, grew into oak-dominated forests after the ubiquitous presettlement wildfires were suppressed. Current vegetation is a mix of forest (40%), agriculture, and grassland with some wetlands in the river valleys. The primary forest cover is oak-hickory (51%) dominated by oak species and shagbark hickory. Maple-basswood forests (28%), dominated by sugar maple, basswood and red maple, are common in areas that were not subjected to repeated presettlement wildfires. Bottomland hardwoods (10%) are common in the valley bottoms of major rivers and are dominated by silver maple, ashes, elms, cottonwood, and red maple. Relict conifer forests including white pine, hemlock and yellow birch are a rarer natural community in the cooler, steep, north slope microclimates.

Date  2010

Recreational Opportunities

The following recreational facilities are located in or near the watershed: Coulee Experimental Forest, La Crosse River State Trail, Great River State Trail, Goose Island County Park, Hixon Forest, and the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Date  2002

Watershed Documents
Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/1997
Waters Involved
Lake Onalaska
Status
Complete

Town Of Onalaska: Lake Onalaska Sediment Trap Design: The Town of Onalaska proposes to develop engineered designs with bid specifications for two sediment traps to reduce sedimentation into Lake Onalaska. One trap will be located in Halfway Creek at County Road XX. The other trap will be located in Sand Lake Coulee Creek at the bike trail.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/1997
Waters Involved
Lake Onalaska
Status
Complete

Town Of Onalaska: Lake Onalaska Subdivision Ordinance Revision: The Town of Onalaska proposes to revise the Town's subdivision ordinance to include storm water runoff and land use/density provisions. The project will involve a comprehensive public involvement process.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/1997
Waters Involved
Lake Onalaska
Status
Complete

Town Of Onalaska: Onalaska Lake Brice Prairie Hydraulic Study: Town of Onalaska proposes to conduct a hydraulic study of the Brice Prairie area located directly adjacent to Lake Onalaska. Project activities include compilation of existing groundwater quality data and projecting the impact of several development scenarios to develop recommendations for land management practices.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
12/4/1990
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Neshonoc P & R District: Lake Neshonoc Sediment Control Alternatives Evaluation: To evaluate sediment control alternatives; Review and analyze existing data, visit site to take photographs, collect sediment samples, gather information on the lake and watershed.Develop estimated sediment budget for the lake and identify necessary sediment trap site.Outline alternatives with cost estimates for sediment control including lake dredging, sediment traps, and modification of agricultural practices.Develop recommendations for sediment control.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
1/30/1992
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Neshonoc P & R District: Lake Neshonoc Sediment Trap Evaluation Study: The consultant will evaluate two sediment trap locations. Preliminary designs for each trp, including size, depth, volume, and location of each trap, shall be provided on engineering drawings. The two sediment cores and four sediment analyses must betaken from the sediment trap location that will be constructed by the lake district. Sediment analyses parameters which have been provided to the consultant will be included in the analyses. Evaluate spoil areas for the dredged and excavated materials.Preliminary engineering designs shall be provided for the dredge spoil area. An interim report shall be provided to the lake district and DNR providing all information necessary for the lake district to evaluate which sediment trap alternative providesthe most benefit. This report will be due 5/1/92. Estimate cost of constructing traps in two locations. Information will be disseminated to the public by public meetings, summary report mailings, and local newspaper articles. Project results will bereposited at: None provided.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/1997
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Lake Neshonoc Protection & Rehab. Dist.: Lake Neshonoc Dredge Spoil Containment Site Study-Part 1: Lake Neshonoc Protection and Rehabilitation District proposes to conduct the following activities on the Lake Neshonoc Project to find a feasible alternative containment site: 1)Develop a one foot contour map of the dredge spoil containment area. 2) Locate site to discharge carrage water to the LaCrosse River. 3) Cost estimate to relocate NSP power line. 4) Coordinate all governing permits. 5) Request permission to use railroad right of way for carriage of discharge water.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/1997
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Lake Neshonoc Protection & Rehab. Dist.: Lake Neshonoc Dredge Spoil Containment Site Study-Part 2: Lake Neshonoc Protection and Rehabilitation District proposes to conduct the following activities on the Lake Neshonoc project to find a feasibile alternative containment site: 1) Summarize environmental problems with the alternative containment site. 2) Plan an alternative containment site. 3) Cost estimate of the site. 4) Summarize the current market for the spoils.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
10/1/1997
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Neshonoc P & R District: Neshonec Lake Management Plan Phase Iv-Ii: Lake Neshonoc Protection and Rehabilitation District proposes to obtain soil borings and install monitoring wells within the planned dredge disposal site from Lake Neshonoc. The project activities include: 1) soil borings, 2) monitoring well installation, 3) soil pit installation, and 4) creation of a hydraulic groundwater model to provide data needed for the final design, environmental review and permit applications. The Department of Natural Resources will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report. The project results will be disseminated to the public by newspaper article(s) and summary report mailings(s) and public meeting(s).


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
10/1/1997
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Neshonoc P & R District: Neshonec Lake Protection & Rehab Phase Iv-I: Lake Neshonoc Protection and Rehabilitation District proposes to analyze the dredging disposal site and do a complete impact study of the planned dredge disposal site from Lake Neshonoc. The project activities include: 1) coordinate all government permits, 2) update plan based on site negotiations, 3) analyze soil boring data, 4) review complete project impacts including fisheries, wildlife, wetlands and both surface and groundwater quality impacts. The Department of Natural Resources will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report. The project results will be disseminated to the public by newspaper article(s) and summary report mailing(s) and public meeting(s).


Grant Details
Small Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2007
Waters Involved
Black River
Status
Complete

Town Of Onalaska: Onalaska Study-Plan: The Town of Onalaska proposes to conduct a study of sediment and pollution contributors to Lake Onalaska in La Crosse County, to gather public comment on community objectives for the lake and develop a plan for implementation of these objectives. Major project elements to include; 1) Watershed analysis, 2) Public informational meeting, 3) Plan development, 4) Design of a sediment and nutient trapping facility.


Grant Details
Small Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2007
Waters Involved
Lake Onalaska
Status
Complete

Town Of Onalaska: Onalaska Study-Plan: The Town of Onalaska proposes to conduct a study of sediment and pollution contributors to Lake Onalaska in La Crosse County, to gather public comment on community objectives for the lake and develop a plan for implementation of these objectives. Major project elements to include; 1) Watershed analysis, 2) Public informational meeting, 3) Plan development, 4) Design of a sediment and nutient trapping facility.


Grant Details
Small Scale Lake Planning
Date
10/1/2007
Waters Involved
Neshonoc Lake
Status
Complete

Lake Neshonoc P & R District: Neshonoc Map: Neshonoc Lake P&RD proposes to contract for production of a bathymetric map of Lake Neshonoc in La Crosse County. Major project elements to include: 1) lake survey, 2) map development, 3) printing.


Grant Details
Targeted Runoff - Rural Construction
Date
1/1/2005
Waters Involved
Gill Coulee Creek
Status
Complete

La Crosse County: Gills Coulee Creek Ws: Installation of streambank stabilization practices, including stream crossings and exclusionary livestock fencing, along approximately 4,000 feet of upper Gills Creek and construction of associated upland runoff management practices.


Grant Details
Targeted Runoff - Rural Construction
Date
9/1/2006
Waters Involved
Gill Coulee Creek
Status
Complete

La Crosse County: Gills Creek - Phase Ii: To restore streambank elements along the Phase II reach of Gills Creek and to prevent unlimited livestock access to waters of the state.


Grant Details
Urban Nonpoint - Stormwater Planning
Date
1/1/2005
Waters Involved
La Crosse River
Status
Complete

City Of La Crosse: Stormwater Plan & Utility: Stormwater management planning; erosion control & stormwater ordinance revision; and, development of specific recommendations, including a proposed rate structure, for creating a stormwater utility.


Monitoring & Projects

Projects including grants, restoration work and studies shown below have occurred in this watershed. Click the links below to read through the text. While these are not an exhaustive list of activities, they provide insight into the management activities happening in this watershed.

Lower La Crosse River Watershed

Priorities

4/16/2010
Restore Neshonoc Lake and Gills Coulee Creek from their impaired state.
Watershed Recommendations
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 1651000
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 1651000, AU:13991
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 1649200
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Pammel Creek, WBIC: 1649200, AU:5721751
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor and/or Protect Groundwater, Sourcewater
 
Date
Status
WDNR staff should continue to encourage communities to develop wellhead protection plans in the Watershed and the whole basin.
7/1/2010
Proposed
Projects
 
Wastewater Monitoring, Management
 
Date
Status
The Town of Onalaska, the Onalaska Lake District, and major industries in the Brice Prairie area should re-examine sewering all or portions of the Brice Prairie.
7/1/2010
Proposed
 
Lower La Crosse River WatershedWatershed History NoteView Basin Site

The Lower La Crosse River watershed contains the major population center of the Bad Axe - La Crosse River basin. The population radiates from the cities of La Crosse and Onalaska, which are located on the western edge of the watershed. The La Crosse River flows into the Mississippi River just north of the current downtown area. La Crosse was incorporated as a city in 1856, but its history dates further. The first Europeans to see the site of La Crosse were the French fur traders who traveled the Mississippi River in the late 17th century. In 1805 Lt. Zebulon Pike mounted an expedition up the Mississippi River and recorded the location's name as "Prairie La Crosse". The name originated when he saw the Native Americans playing a game with sticks that resembled a bishop's crozier or la crosse in French. The Norwegians first purchased land in the La Crosse River valley which divides the entire county from east to west, from Sparta in Monroe County all the way through the city of La Crosse to meet up with the Black River. The river also served as a major venue of transportation. Prairie fires were a source of concern to the pioneers. Fire was a natural phenomenon on the prairie and helped to regenerate native plant species. When the farming families arrived, they began to control the fires to protect their crops, livestock and other property. This dramatically changed the face of Wisconsin. Where prairies and grasslands once existed, row crops or oak savannah took their place. In 1906, outside of the city of La Crosse, the chief occupations were agriculture and dairying. Crops grown in the county included oats, corn, barley, wheat, potatoes, rye and tobacco. At right: dolomite forms the main mineral in the bluff-forming rocks long the Mississippi River, such as Granddad Bluff near LaCrosse. Image may be subject to copyright. The image at right is from: www.lacrosselibrary.org/marsh/album/index.htm

Date  2010