Watershed - Pine Creek (CW29)
Pine Creek Watershed

Details

The Pine Creek Watershed is located in Lincoln and Langlade Counties. A Lincoln County Non Point Source (NPS) assessment report conducted by the DNR in 1982 indicated that the Pine Creek Watershed contained streams with a moderate value for county residents or a moderate potential for water quality or fishery improvement. Land use in the watershed indicates a high NPS pollution potential. The Pine Creek Watershed was ranked per the Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed Selection Criteria. There was insufficient data for ranking this watershed; therefore it is ranked a low priority throughout the Central Wisconsin basin. More monitoring needs to be conducted to get a better understanding of the watershed and it's resources.

Date  2002

Population, Land Use

Land use in the Pine River Watershed is dominated by forest cover (53%), followed by agriculture with 25% of the watershed’s total area. Wetlands and open water encompass most of the remaining area with 17% and 4%, respectively. Urban and suburban land use is minimal with three-tenths of a percent and three-quarters of a percent, respectively.

Date  2011

Nonpoint and Point Sources

The Pine River Watershed is listed as a low priority overall for nonpoint source (NPS) pollution due to low rankings for stream, groundwater, and lake NPS pollution.

Date  2011

Ecological Landscapes for Pine Creek Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

The Pine Creek watershed is located in the Forest Transition Ecological Landscape which lies along the northern border of Wisconsin's Tension Zone, through the central and western part of the state, and supports both northern forests and agricultural areas. The central portion of the Forest Transition lies primarily on a glacial till plain deposited by glaciation between 25,000 and 790,000 years ago. The eastern and western portions are on moraines of the Wisconsin glaciation. The growing season in this part of the state is long enough that agriculture is viable, although climatic conditions are not as favorable as in southern Wisconsin. Soils are diverse, ranging from sandy loam to loam or shallow silt loam, and from poorly drained to well drained. The historic vegetation of the Forest Transition was primarily northern hardwood forest. These northern hardwoods were dominated by sugar maple and hemlock, and contained some yellow birch, red pine and white pine. Currently, over 60% of this Ecological Landscape is non-forested. Forested areas consist primarily of northern hardwoods and aspen, with smaller amounts of oak and lowland hardwoods. The eastern portion of the Ecological Landscape differs from the rest of the area in that it remains primarily forested, and includes some ecologically significant areas. Throughout the Ecological Landscape, small areas of conifer swamp are found near the headwaters of streams, and associated with lakes in kettle depressions on moraines. Ground flora show characteristics of both northern and southern Wisconsin, as this Ecological Landscape lies along the Tension Zone.

Date  2010

Hydrologic Features

The hydrology of the Pine River Watershed is driven by the complex interactions between surface water and groundwater. The upper half of the watershed is situated on a glacial outwash plain that is dominated by forests and wetlands. The flat topography and land use in the upper portion of the watershed slows runoff and allows precipitation to slowly infiltrate into the groundwater. The groundwater then forms seeps and springs that coalesce to form the cool headwater streams found throughout the upper watershed. As the headwater streams follow the slope of the watershed, southwest towards the Wisconsin River, they combine to form larger streams and rivers that flow through a more complex landscape. The lower portion of the Pine River Watershed becomes hillier and agricultural land use becomes more common where adequate drainage can sustain pastures and croplands. With the steeper terrain and more intense agricultural land use comes accelerated runoff and increased soil erosion, which alters the nature of streams in the lower watershed. For example, the lower portion of the Pine River has lost aquatic habitat complexity due to siltation and appears to be transitioning into a eutrophic state due excess nutrients entering the system from agricultural runoff.

Date  2011

Pine Creek Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in Pine Creek Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

143 miles of streams and rivers in the Pine River watershed have been entered into the WDNR’s assessment database. Of these 143 miles, approximately half are meeting Fish and Aquatic Life uses and are specified as in “good” condition and about 18% of streams are considered to be in “poor” condition and are listed as impaired. The condition of the remaining third of these stream miles is not known or documented. Over 17 miles of Exceptional Resource Waters are found in the Pine River Watershed along stretches of Little Oxbo Creek, Mccloud Creek, Oxbo Creek, and Rajek Creek (all of which are Class I trout streams, also). Another 78 miles of Class II Trout streams are spread among sections of North Branch Pine River, McCloud Creek, Pratt Creek, East Branch Pratt Creek, Lloyd Creek, Pine River, Pat Smith Creek and several unnamed streams. In addition, over 11 miles of Class III trout waters are found along the Pine River. The Wisconsin River has been on the 303(d) list for PCBs and Mercury since 1998.

Date  2011

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Lakes and Impoundments

The WDNR’s ROW database shows that there are about 15 acres of reservoirs and flowages and another 60 acres of unspecified open water in the Pine River Watershed. Of these, approximately 15 acres of lakes are entered into the state’s assessment database; none of which have been assessed for Fish and Aquatic Life use or any other use. The Merrill Flowage, which lies partially within the Pine River Watershed, is the only impoundment entered into the assessment database and it is indicated as not supporting Fish and Aquatic Life uses.

Date  2011

Wetland Health

Wetland Status: An estimated 17% of the current land use in the Pine River Watershed is wetlands. Currently, about 87% of the original wetlands in the watershed are estimated to exist. Of these wetlands, the majority include sedge or “wet” meadows (66%) and forested wetlands (28%). Wet meadows may have saturated soils, rather than standing water, more often than not. Sedges, grasses, and reeds are dominant, but look also for blue flag iris, marsh milkweed, sneezeweed, mint, and several species of goldenrod and aster. Wetland Restorability: Of the 1,952 acres of estimated lost wetlands in the watershed, approximately 63% are considered potentially restorable based on modeled data, including soil types, land use, and land cover (Chris Smith, DNR, 2009).

Date  2011

Impaired Waters

A 25-mile section of the Wisconsin River is listed as impaired by PCBs and mercury. Merrill Flowage is also on the 303(d) impaired waters list for an unknown pollutant due to contaminated sediments.

Date  2011

List of Impaired Waters

Aquatic Invasive Species

Rusty crayfish have been verified and vouchered in the Wisconsin River, Pine River, and Merrill Flowage. The Wisconsin River is also home to Eurasian water-milfoil.

Date  2011

Fish Consumption Advice

Wisconsin’s fish consumption advisory is based on the work of public health, water quality, and fisheries experts from eight Great Lakes states. Based on the best available scientific evidence, these scientists determined how much fish is safe to eat over a lifetime based on the amount of contaminants found in the fish and how those contaminants affect human health. Advisories are based on concentrations of the following contaminants along with angler habits, fishing regulations and other factors. The Wisconsin River from its dam at Merrill downstream to the dam at Nekoosa has a specific fish consumption advisory in effect for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Studies indicate the people exposed to PCBs are at greater risk for a variety of health problems. Infants and children of women who have eaten a lot of contaminated fish may have lower birth weights and be delayed in physical development and learning. PCBs may affect reproductive function and the immune system and are also associated with cancer risk. Once eaten, PCBs are stored in body fat for many years. Each time you ingest PCBs the total amount of PCB in your body increases (Proposed Guidance for the Classification, Assessment, & Management of Wisconsin Surface Waters, Lowndes & Helmuth, March 12, 2007).

Date  2011

Groundwater

The following groundwater information is for Lincoln and Langlade counties (from Protecting Wisconsin’s Groundwater through Comprehensive Planning website, http://wi.water.usgs.gov/gwcomp/), which roughly approximates to the Pine River Watershed. Merrill is the only municipal water systems in the Pine River Watershed to have a wellhead protection plan. Both Lincoln and Langlade counties have adopted animal waste management ordinances. From 1979 to 2005, total water use in Lincoln County has decreased from about 14.6 million gallons per day to 9.9 million gallons per day. Industrial water use is the greatest component of use in the county and the decrease in total water use over this period is due to a decrease in industrial use. Industrial water use actually increased dramatically until 1985, before declining by the year 2000. The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater has been variable but increased from 23% to 43% during the period 1979 to 2000, and decreased to 26% in 2005. During this same period, total water use in Langlade County has increased from about 6.9 million gallons per day to about 34.3 million gallons per day, due primarily to increases in aquaculture and irrigation uses. Industrial use has declined over the same period. The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater has fluctuated from about 59% to 99% during the period 1979 to 2005. Private Wells Ninety-six percent of 155 private well samples collected in Lincoln County and 83% of 193 private well samples collected in Langlade County from 1990-2006 met the health-based drinking water limit for nitrate-nitrogen. Land use affects nitrate concentrations in groundwater. An analysis of over 35,000 Wisconsin drinking water samples found that drinking water from private wells was three times more likely to be unsafe to drink due to high nitrate in agricultural areas than in forested areas. High nitrate levels were also more common in sandy areas where the soil is more permeable. In Wisconsin’s groundwater, 80% of nitrate inputs originate from manure spreading, agricultural fertilizers, and legume cropping systems. A 2002 study estimated that 12-18% of private drinking water wells in the region of Wisconsin that includes Lincoln and Langlade counties contained a detectable level of an herbicide or herbicide metabolite. Pesticides occur in groundwater more commonly in agricultural regions, but can occur anywhere pesticides are stored or applied. There are no atrazine prohibition areas in Lincoln or Langlade counties. Almost all (98%) of 45 private well samples collected in Lincoln County and all five well samples collected from Langlade County met the health standard for arsenic. Potential Sources of Contamination There are no Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or licensed landfills within the watershed; nor are there any Superfund sites within the watershed.

Date  2011

Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2010
Waters Involved
Castle Rock Ditch
Status
Complete

Lake Alice Association, Inc: Lake Alice Stewardship Program Phase Ii - Understanding The Biota Of Lake Alice: Lake Alice Association is sponsoring phased large scale lake planning grants to study Lake Alice, in Lincoln County. The project will focus on developing and updating an Adaptive Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Alice. Phase 2 was funded in this grant cycle and Phases 3-5 will be submitted for funding starting in 2011.

Project activities for Phase 2 include: 1) Educational program, meetings and educational events with lake association and Tomahawk High School students, written educational materials, news releases, and website updates; 2) Point-intercept (PI) aquatic plant survey; 3) Aquatic plant community and substrate mapping; 4) Water quality assessment; 5) Volunteer amphibian monitoring and angler survey; 6) Update LMP.

Project deliverables include: 1) Educational materials and news releases; 2) Aquatic plant community and substrate maps; 3) PI, water quality, amphibian, and angler data; 4) LMP.

Specific conditions for this project: LMP needs Dept review and approval

WDNR Lakes Management Coordinator will be provided with an electronic (pdf or word) and hard copy of LMP, news releases, any other educational materials/products, all data, all maps from project, and all GIS data.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2010
Waters Involved
Cruson Slough
Status
Complete

Lake Alice Association, Inc: Lake Alice Stewardship Program Phase Ii - Understanding The Biota Of Lake Alice: Lake Alice Association is sponsoring phased large scale lake planning grants to study Lake Alice, in Lincoln County. The project will focus on developing and updating an Adaptive Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Alice. Phase 2 was funded in this grant cycle and Phases 3-5 will be submitted for funding starting in 2011.

Project activities for Phase 2 include: 1) Educational program, meetings and educational events with lake association and Tomahawk High School students, written educational materials, news releases, and website updates; 2) Point-intercept (PI) aquatic plant survey; 3) Aquatic plant community and substrate mapping; 4) Water quality assessment; 5) Volunteer amphibian monitoring and angler survey; 6) Update LMP.

Project deliverables include: 1) Educational materials and news releases; 2) Aquatic plant community and substrate maps; 3) PI, water quality, amphibian, and angler data; 4) LMP.

Specific conditions for this project: LMP needs Dept review and approval

WDNR Lakes Management Coordinator will be provided with an electronic (pdf or word) and hard copy of LMP, news releases, any other educational materials/products, all data, all maps from project, and all GIS data.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2010
Waters Involved
Lake Du Bay
Status
Complete

Lake Alice Association, Inc: Lake Alice Stewardship Program Phase Ii - Understanding The Biota Of Lake Alice: Lake Alice Association is sponsoring phased large scale lake planning grants to study Lake Alice, in Lincoln County. The project will focus on developing and updating an Adaptive Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Alice. Phase 2 was funded in this grant cycle and Phases 3-5 will be submitted for funding starting in 2011.

Project activities for Phase 2 include: 1) Educational program, meetings and educational events with lake association and Tomahawk High School students, written educational materials, news releases, and website updates; 2) Point-intercept (PI) aquatic plant survey; 3) Aquatic plant community and substrate mapping; 4) Water quality assessment; 5) Volunteer amphibian monitoring and angler survey; 6) Update LMP.

Project deliverables include: 1) Educational materials and news releases; 2) Aquatic plant community and substrate maps; 3) PI, water quality, amphibian, and angler data; 4) LMP.

Specific conditions for this project: LMP needs Dept review and approval

WDNR Lakes Management Coordinator will be provided with an electronic (pdf or word) and hard copy of LMP, news releases, any other educational materials/products, all data, all maps from project, and all GIS data.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2010
Waters Involved
Little Pine Creek
Status
Complete

Lake Alice Association, Inc: Lake Alice Stewardship Program Phase Ii - Understanding The Biota Of Lake Alice: Lake Alice Association is sponsoring phased large scale lake planning grants to study Lake Alice, in Lincoln County. The project will focus on developing and updating an Adaptive Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Alice. Phase 2 was funded in this grant cycle and Phases 3-5 will be submitted for funding starting in 2011.

Project activities for Phase 2 include: 1) Educational program, meetings and educational events with lake association and Tomahawk High School students, written educational materials, news releases, and website updates; 2) Point-intercept (PI) aquatic plant survey; 3) Aquatic plant community and substrate mapping; 4) Water quality assessment; 5) Volunteer amphibian monitoring and angler survey; 6) Update LMP.

Project deliverables include: 1) Educational materials and news releases; 2) Aquatic plant community and substrate maps; 3) PI, water quality, amphibian, and angler data; 4) LMP.

Specific conditions for this project: LMP needs Dept review and approval

WDNR Lakes Management Coordinator will be provided with an electronic (pdf or word) and hard copy of LMP, news releases, any other educational materials/products, all data, all maps from project, and all GIS data.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2010
Waters Involved
Unnamed
Status
Complete

Lake Alice Association, Inc: Lake Alice Stewardship Program Phase Ii - Understanding The Biota Of Lake Alice: Lake Alice Association is sponsoring phased large scale lake planning grants to study Lake Alice, in Lincoln County. The project will focus on developing and updating an Adaptive Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Alice. Phase 2 was funded in this grant cycle and Phases 3-5 will be submitted for funding starting in 2011.

Project activities for Phase 2 include: 1) Educational program, meetings and educational events with lake association and Tomahawk High School students, written educational materials, news releases, and website updates; 2) Point-intercept (PI) aquatic plant survey; 3) Aquatic plant community and substrate mapping; 4) Water quality assessment; 5) Volunteer amphibian monitoring and angler survey; 6) Update LMP.

Project deliverables include: 1) Educational materials and news releases; 2) Aquatic plant community and substrate maps; 3) PI, water quality, amphibian, and angler data; 4) LMP.

Specific conditions for this project: LMP needs Dept review and approval

WDNR Lakes Management Coordinator will be provided with an electronic (pdf or word) and hard copy of LMP, news releases, any other educational materials/products, all data, all maps from project, and all GIS data.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2010
Waters Involved
Wisconsin River
Status
Complete

Lake Alice Association, Inc: Lake Alice Stewardship Program Phase Ii - Understanding The Biota Of Lake Alice: Lake Alice Association is sponsoring phased large scale lake planning grants to study Lake Alice, in Lincoln County. The project will focus on developing and updating an Adaptive Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Alice. Phase 2 was funded in this grant cycle and Phases 3-5 will be submitted for funding starting in 2011.

Project activities for Phase 2 include: 1) Educational program, meetings and educational events with lake association and Tomahawk High School students, written educational materials, news releases, and website updates; 2) Point-intercept (PI) aquatic plant survey; 3) Aquatic plant community and substrate mapping; 4) Water quality assessment; 5) Volunteer amphibian monitoring and angler survey; 6) Update LMP.

Project deliverables include: 1) Educational materials and news releases; 2) Aquatic plant community and substrate maps; 3) PI, water quality, amphibian, and angler data; 4) LMP.

Specific conditions for this project: LMP needs Dept review and approval

WDNR Lakes Management Coordinator will be provided with an electronic (pdf or word) and hard copy of LMP, news releases, any other educational materials/products, all data, all maps from project, and all GIS data.


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.

Volunteer Monitoring

Langland County Waterways Association and Lincoln County Lakes and Rivers Association are working with the DNR to recruit volunteers to conduct aquatic invasive species inventories, develop and disseminate aquatic invasive species educational materials, and develop an aquatic invasive species taskforce.

Date  2011

Grants and Management Projects
Pine Creek Watershed

Goals

1/4/2012
• Complete impact assessments on waters located near mining operations.
1/4/2012
• Develop an aquatic invasive species taskforce comprised of volunteers.
1/4/2012
• Conduct continued baseline monitoring of streams and lakes in this northern watershed.

Priorities

1/4/2012
Prevention and early detection of aquatic invasive species.
1/4/2012
• The need for an impact assessment evaluating water quality changes due to non-metallic mining operations.
Watershed Recommendations
Monitor Fish Tissue
Confirm FCA: IW pre-2000 data
Date
Status
1179900 name Wisconsin River TMDL ID 622 Start Mile 57.66 End Mile 90.94
11/21/2011
Proposed
 
Runoff Evaluation
 
Date
Status
Conduct NPS appraisal monitoring on East Branch Pratt, Little Oxbo, Lloyd, McCloud, Oxbo, Pratt and Rajek creeks, and the North Branch of the Pine River (Type B) .
1/1/2010
Proposed
 
Pine Creek WatershedWater Plans and PartnershipsRead the Watershed Plan

The watershed plan for CW29 is final as of 2011.

Date  2011

Watershed History Note

Many Christmas tree farms can be found in the Pine Creek Watershed in Lincoln and Langlade counties. Wisconsin is a national leader in growing and harvesting Christmas trees. Wisconsin ranks 5th in number of trees harvested (1.6 million in 2002), third in number of acres under cultivation (47,699 in 2002), and 6th in number of farms (1,387 in 2002). The National Christmas Tree Association publishes a fact sheet which includes the following information: There are approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year. There are close to 350 million real Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas Tree farms in the U.S. alone, all planted by farmers. For every real Christmas tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. There are about 350,000 acres in production for growing Christmas trees in the U.S.; much of it preserving green space. There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry. The most common Christmas tree species are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.

Date  2010