Watershed - Galena River (GP01)
Galena River Watershed

Details

The Galena River Watershed lies in southwestern Lafayette County and southern Grant County. It is a relatively large watershed of 242 square miles. Of the 260 miles of streams in the watershed, 115 stream miles are classified as warm water sport fishery. Thirty-five miles of the Galena River are considered Exceptional Resource Water (ERW) under state administrative rules. The existing biological uses of about 120 miles of smaller streams in the watershed have not been formally determined.

Date  2010

Population, Land Use

Agriculture is the dominant land use in the watershed. Runoff from agricultural fields and barnyards are considered to be the major sources of non-point pollution. Another major non-point source pollution problem common in this and other watersheds in the Grant-Platte Basin is overgrazing of stream banks. This practice results in trampled banks, exposed eroding banks, streams becoming wider and shallower, and stream warming. Direct drainage from barnyards is a major source of nutrient loading to surface waters. Drainage from cropland to streams carries eroded sediments which affects in stream habitat and fish spawning areas. Nutrients, fertilizers and pesticides attach to soil particles and can further pollute streams.

Date  2010

Nonpoint and Point Sources

There are four incorporated communities in the watershed with permitted wastewater discharges to surface water. They are Cuba City (2,043), Benton (903), Hazel Green (1,207), and Shullsburg (1,268). Each community’s wastewater treatment plant is in good operating condition and Benton’s plant was newly constructed in 1998. Three other unincorporated communities also have municipal wastewater discharge permits. They are Kieler, Jamestown Sanitary District #2, Jamestown Sanitary District #3, and St. Clara at Sinsinawa. Jamestown Sanitary District #3 is going through facilities planning to upgrade their existing system. None of these communities are experiencing rapid urban growth and therefore pose little threat as sources of urban non-point source.

Date  2009

Nonpoint and Point Sources

Mining - The center of historic lead and zinc mining in Wisconsin is in the Shullsburg - Cuba City area. One mine at Shullsburg remains open as a museum and tourist attraction. It is estimated that about 35 abandoned mine sites and 125 mine waste piles are located throughout the watershed (Kroner, et.al., 1992). Most of these mine waste piles are located adjacent to streams or drainage ways that lead to perennial streams. Runoff from abandoned mine waste piles has resulted in fish kills in the past. In addition to the mines and mine waste piles, numerous air and ventilation shafts, perhaps numbering in the thousands, dot the landscape (Webber, 1998). These are also a concern because they offer the potential for pollutants on the land’s surface to be transported directly to local groundwater by these shafts.

Date  2002

Ecological Landscapes for Galena River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

This watershed is located primarily in the Southwest Savanna Ecological Landscape which is located in the far southwestern part of the state. It is characterized by deeply dissected topography, unglaciated for the last 2.4 million years, with broad open hilltops and river valleys, and steep wooded slopes. The climate is favorable for agriculture but the steep slopes limit it to the hilltops and valley bottoms. Soils are underlain with calcareous bedrock. Soils on hilltops are silty loams, sometimes of shallow depth over exposed bedrock and stony red clay subsoil. Some valley soils are alluvial sands, loams, and peats. Some hilltops are almost treeless due to the thin soil while others have a deep silt loam cap. Historic vegetation consisted of tall prairie grasses and forbs with oak savannas and some wooded slopes of oak. Almost three-quarters of the current vegetation is agricultural crops with lesser amounts of grasslands, barrens, and urban areas. The major forest types are oak-hickory and maple-basswood. High-quality prairie remnants occur on rocky hilltops and slopes that are not farmed. Some prairie pastures and oak savannas still exist. The grassland areas harbor many rare grassland birds, invertebrates, and other grassland species. Relict stands of pine occur on bedrock outcroppings along some stream systems.

Date  2010

Hydrologic Features

The Galena River Watershed , located in the driftless area of the state, is characterized by dendritic stream systems among rolling hills and steeply graded valleys. Agricultural practices and hydrologic modifications have altered natural stream flows so that “flashy” hydroregimes are more common and historical springs which once dotted the landscape are much less common than they once were. Given the gradient in this area, the streams were always flashy to some extent. However, today soils are less stable, so they now carry an increased sediment/nutrient load. Studies conducted to evaluate the effect of changing natural driftless floodplain systems to heavily agricultural land uses. In this watershed, the conversion from natural vegetation with freely evolving stream meanders to an agricultural dominated landscape with constrained stream valleys and floodplains has encouraged development of more incised meander belts along streams draining between 10 and 200 km2. These belts consist of alluvial terraces that confine flood flows to a relatively narrow portion of the valley. Researchers found that in systems where stream floodplains were constrained , peak flood flows were more dramatic, more intense, and yielded greater downstream erosion and sediment loads. [Form and Process: Fluvial Geomorphology and Flood-Flow Interaction, Grant River, Wisconsin Christopher J. Woltemade, Department of Geography-Earth Science, Shippensburg University]

Date  2010

Galena River Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in Galena River Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

Four streams in the watershed are on Wisconsin’s impaired waters list as required by section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Those four are Bull Branch, Diggings Creek, Louisburg Creek, and an unnamed tributary to Shullsburg Branch (WBIC-937800). Diggings Creek and the tributary to Shullsburg Branch are listed due to the continued effects from the mining waste piles in the area. The others are listed due to loss of habitat resulting from sedimentation due to non-point sources of pollution. Over the past 30 years, various programs and incentives have been in place to help improve land use and agricultural practices, thus improving water quality in the Galena River watershed. The most intensive and targeted of these occurred from 1979 to 1990 as part of the priority watershed project. Since that time, there have also been various programs on the local, state and federal level to encourage agricultural best management practices (BMPs) or set aside highly erodible lands to reduce runoff, erosion, and other sources of nonpoint pollution. In 1992, Kroner et. al. reported that while BMPs were effective in reducing agricultural nonpoint source pollution on a site specific basis, the scattered nature of those participating in these practices had little impact on overall water quality. A broader study in 2007, which looked at randomly distributed sites to determine overall water quality within the watershed, essentially verified this finding. Although the two main objectives of the priority watershed project were to 'improve biotic index values to the fair category' and 'have clean looking and smelling streams', and indeed a number of the sites met these objectives, there does not appear to have been an improvement from pre-priority watershed conditions. Over the past 10 years however, new information has been shed on the potential of many streams in the driftless area. Modeling of stream flow and temperature has shown that instead of trying to categorize the streams in this region as "warm" or "cold" and using those specific biotic indices to measure their quality, new information suggests that these streams should be considered "coolwater transitional", that is, they have summer water temperatures suitable for both coldwater and warmwater species. In the past, many streams were considered as degraded warmwater streams, even though they had diverse communities, some pollution intolerant species, and sometimes good smallmouth bass fisheries. Based on current modeling data, it may be more appropriate to consider them as fair to good "coolwater" systems. That’s not to say the streams in the watershed are without problems and are meeting their full attainable use. Streams are being impacted by certain agricultural practices, and in particular manure runoff which leads to fish kills, and not so much from degraded habitat and altered fish communities as the warmwater biotic index might suggest. Land use has not changed appreciably over the past 3 decades with intense row cropping and grazing still taking place on much of the landscape, including stream corridors where it’s causing bank erosion, bank trampling and widening of the streams. Innovative practices such as installation of buffers or use of rotational grazing are still the exception. Improper manure management causes periodic fish kills in the watershed. Some of these are large and catastrophic, but many smaller events which often go unnoticed can have a significant impact on smallmouth bass numbers, especially if they periodically delete sexually mature fish from the population and/or affect large numbers of young-of-the-year in nursery streams. In the absence of major changes in land use and manure management – on a wide scale – it is unlikely there will be a measureable improvement in stream quality and the likelihood of the majority of streams reaching their full attainable use is doubtful.

Date  2009

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Wetland Health

The Galena River Watershed lies in southwestern Lafayette County and southern Grant County and is part of the Grant-Platte Basin. An estimated 0.4% of the current land uses in the watershed are wetlands. Only 75.5% of the original wetlands in the watershed are estimated to exist. Of these wet­lands, the majority include forested wetlands (64%) andemergent wetlands (27%), which include marshes and wet meadows. The most extensive wetland complexes are along the Mississippi River with wetlands found along both large and small streams. These riparian wetlands are either floodplain forest wetlands or wet meadows and wet prairies. A large proportionof the riparian wetlands in the basin have been disturbed by agriculture, either through drainage, cultivation, or by being covered with sediment.

Date  2010

Potentially Restorable Wetland Analysis

Wetland Health

Wetland Status The Galena River Watershed lies in southwestern Lafayette County and southern Grant County and is part of the Grant-Platte Basin. An estimated 0.4% of the current land uses in the watershed are wetlands. Only 75.5% of the original wetlands in the watershed are estimated to exist. Of these wetlands, the majority include forested wetlands (64%) and emergent wetlands (27%), which include marshes and wet meadows. Wetland Condition Little is known about the condition of the remaining wetlands but estimates of reed canary grass infestations, an opportunistic aquatic invasive wetland plant, into different wetland types has been estimated based on satellite imagery. This information shows that reed canary grass dominates 68% of the existing emergent wetlands and 26% of the remaining forested wetlands. Reed Canary Grass domination inhibits successful establishment of native wetland species. Wetland Restorability Of the 188 acres of estimated lost wetlands in the watershed, approximately 83% are considered potentially restorable based on modeled data, including soil types, land use and land cover (Chris Smith, DNR, 2009).

Date  2010

Potentially Restorable Wetland Analysis

Impaired Waters

Four streams in the watershed are on Wiscon­sin’s impaired waters list as required by section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Those four are Bull Branch, Diggings Creek, Louisburg Creek, and an unnamed tributary to Shullsburg Branch (WBIC = 937800). Diggings Creek and the tributary to Shulls­burg Branch are listed due to the continued effects from the mining waste piles in the area. The others are listed due to loss of habitat re­sulting from sedimentation due to non-point sources of pollution.

Date  2010

List of Impaired Waters

Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic invasives monitoring and management is happening throughout the state. In this watershed, UWExtension and Wisconsin Sea Grant have worked with DNR to step up education efforts to teach boaters, anglers, and other water users how to prevent transporting aquatic invasive species when moving their boats.

Date  2010

Lakes and Impoundments

Watershed Documents
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.

Monitoring Studies

Monitoring projects include a variety of random and targeted field work to gain specific knowledge related to Wisconsin’s fish communities and aquatic condition. Fisheries and macroinvertebrate monitoring has occurred on: Apple River, Coon Br, Galena River, Kelsey Br, Madden Br, Menominee River, Mississippi River, Pats Creek, Shullsburg Br, Sinsinawa River, Spring Br and several unnamed streams. Platteville Ag Stewardship Farm - Located in the headwaters of this watershed is the Pioneer Ag Stewardship Farm (PASF) operated by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. PASF is one site of state efforts to uncover ways for farmers to find economical ways of farming while meeting environmental challenges. The main focus of the farm is to conduct systems research, a branch of research examining how the flow of nutrients through a whole farm that using real-world applications can positively affect the environment, offer economical solutions to problems and maintain and develop positive social perceptions. The goals of the farm are to discover new applications that can offer the farmer both environmental stability and economic viability while complying with environmental regulations and guidelines.

Date  2009

Galena River Watershed

Goals

7/1/2010
Working with agricultural landowners to put practices that prevent manure runoff events is a primary goal.
7/16/2010
Reduction of phosphorus and sediment loading from this watershed is critical to restore and maintain water quality. Specifically, streams are degraded by certain agricultural practices, in particular manure runoff which leads to fish kills.

Priorities

7/16/2010
Issues of concern in the basin include sediment and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) delivery to water bodies from both point and non-point sources; and threats to the groundwater resources.
Watershed Recommendations
Aquatic Plant Management Plan
 
Date
Status
Protect rare plants and vegetative communities
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
 
Date
Status
Encourage citizens to be involved in volunteer stream monitoring and to be active in the restoration of riparian and in-stream habitat.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Improve Public Access
 
Date
Status
Lafayette County and local outdoor groups, with the assistance of the DNR, should investigate the desirability of developing a canoe trail on the Galena (Fever) River as a means of promoting local tourism.
1/1/2010
Verify
 
Information and Education
 
Date
Status
Stress the importance of soil conservation and proper chemical and manure handling, storage and application procedures and increase available resources to implement related Best Management Practices.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Information and Education
 
Date
Status
Increase public awareness of groundwater pollution and its prevention and encourage private well owners to properly seal abandoned wells and have their drinking water tested regularly.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Information and Education
 
Date
Status
Encourage woodland landowners to use best management practices that provide wildlife habitat.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Information and Education
 
Date
Status
Increase awareness, detection and control of invasive species.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 938200
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 938200, AU:3995847
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 3000517
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 3000517, AU:5693874
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 936600
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Kelsey Br, WBIC: 936600, AU:13840
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 939700
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 939700, AU:5693842
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 937000
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Shullsburg Br, WBIC: 937000, AU:13843
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 3000630
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 3000630, AU:1520083
5/21/2016
Proposed
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
DNR should monitor the fish assemblage, sample for metals, and perform bioassay tests to determine if Coon Branch should be added to the state’s list of impaired waters due to metals toxicity.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
DNR should monitor Diggings Creek and Louisburg Creek to determine their contemporary status and determine if they should remain on the state’s list of impaired waters. The DNR should monitor Diggings Creek to determine if elevated levels of heavy metals are still present in the water column. Sediment sampling and fish toxicity sampling should also be done.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
DNR should monitor the following streams to determine their contemporary status and to determine if they should be included on the state’s Impaired Waters list: Blacks Creek, Ellis Branch, Fair Play Creek, Hollow Creek, Kieler Creek, Little Menominee River and Scrabble Branch.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
The following streams should be monitored and considered for addition to the impaired waters 303(d) list due to habitat impairment from sediment: Apple River, Coon Branch, Fair Play Creek, Madden Branch, Pats Creek, Shullsburg Branch, and Sinsinawa River. An assessment should be made to determine what action could help improve these streams.
1/1/2010
Verify
 
Monitor Watershed (Status,Sources,Impairments)
 
Date
Status
The DNR and other units of government should inventory and locate for inclusion in a GIS data base all abandoned mines, mining waste piles and air shafts associated with historic mining in the Galena River watershed
1/1/2010
Verify
 
Monitor and/or Protect Groundwater, Sourcewater
 
Date
Status
Improve and protect the quality of the groundwater and drinking water in the basin by removing sources of groundwater contamination, increasing public awareness of groundwater and encouraging private well water testing.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor with Baseline Survey
 
Date
Status
Conduct baseline monitoring on the Galena River to assess current status of instream habitat, macroinvertebrate communities, and fish communities.
1/1/2010
Verify
 
Natural Areas Protection
 
Date
Status
Develop more wildlife habitat and more opportunities for natural resources-based recreation.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Restore Hydrology, Morphology
Bull Branch
Date
Status
hydrostructure impacts on fish passage
3/8/2014
Proposed
 
Runoff Evaluation
 
Date
Status
Grant and Lafayette County Land Conservation Department staff should work with landowners in subwatersheds containing valuable, but threatened smallmouth bass fisheries and nursery streams to manage manure to avoid applications during high risk periods which could lead to runoff and fish kills. Specific areas include the Menominee River, Sinsinawa River, Shullsburg Branch, Madden Branch, and Pats Creek sub-watersheds.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Runoff Evaluation
 
Date
Status
Grant County and Lafayette County LCD staff and the DNR should conduct land and water surveys to identify potential and existing non-point source pollutions problems in the Galena River watershed and should work to reduce the amount of non-point pollution, especially soil, pesticides, fertilizers, metals and chemicals that reach streams in the basin.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Water Quality Planning
Sinsinawa River TWA [HUC12] 2016
Date
Status
Sinsinawa River TWA [HUC12] 2016
12/16/2015
Proposed
Projects
 
Water Quality Planning
 
Date
Status
Grant and Lafayette County Land Conservation Department staff and DNR should identify and prioritize water resources in the watershed for implementation of best management practices on an intensive basis, including identification of major sources of sediment and nutrient loading and subsequent development and implementation of nutrient management plans.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Galena River WatershedWatershed History Note

The Village of Hazel Green, located on the Grant and Lafayette county border, is in the Galena River watershed. Hazel Green was part of the mining boom that took place in this part of Wisconsin in the 1800s. Late in 1831, when Wisconsin was still in Michigan Territory, Lucius Lyon, U. S. Commissioner on the survey of the northern boundary of the State of Illinois, set a post in the area and erected a mound of earth 6 feet square at the base and 6 feet high to mark the intersection of that boundary and the 4th Principal Meridian. The Wisconsin public land surveys were begun here in 1832 and were completed "up north" in 1867. Lyon surveyed 16 townships in southwest Wisconsin in 1832-33, which opened the Territory for settlement. The post and mound he erected at this point were obliterated by fence and power line construction long ago, but the point is now preserved by a new concrete surveyor's monument. Every section corner monument in the state of Wisconsin; the boundaries of each county, city, village, township, farm and lot; the position of roads, lakes and streams, all were surveyed and mapped from this Point of Beginning in the Galena River watershed.

Date  2010

Watershed History Note

The center of historic lead and zinc mining in Wisconsin is in the Shullsburg - Cuba City area. It is estimated that about 35 abandoned mine sites and 125 mine waste piles are located throughout the watershed (Kroner, et.al., 1992). Most of these mine waste piles are located adjacent to streams or drainage ways that lead to perennial streams. Runoff from abandoned mine waste piles has resulted in fish kills in the past.

Date  2009

Water PlanningRead the Watershed Plan