Watershed - North Fork Eau Claire River (LC17)
North Fork Eau Claire River Watershed

Details

The North Fork of the Eau Claire River watershed lies within four Wisconsin counties: south eastern Chippewa, southwestern Taylor, northwest Clark, and northeast Eau Claire. This watershed is one of twenty-four watersheds within the Lower Chippewa River Basin. The watershed encompasses approximately 206 square miles composed of primarily agricultural and forest landscapes. Wetlands and grasslands make up the other major land use and cover in the watershed, providing home to wildlife. The watershed is located in three ecological landscapes: Forest Transition, the North Central -Forest and the Central Sand Plains. Th e watershed encompasses approximately 206 square miles (132,000 acres) composed of primarily agricultural and forest landscapes.

Date  2010

Population, Land Use

The watershed is comprised primarily of agricultural land use (51%), Forest (38%), and 4.5% wetlands, along with and miscellaneous additional uses (open water, grassland, and suburban) (2001 National Land Cover Dataset). The two large developed areas in this watershed are the city and village of Thorp and the city and village of Stanley. The cithy of Thorp contains about 3344 persons i 2010 and is projected to remain relatively stable through 2035. Stanley (city) 3,329 and (village) 2,376 are also projected to remain stable over the next several years.

Date  2010

Nonpoint and Point Sources

Point and nonpoint source issues are key issues for this watershed. Reduction of phosphorus loading from all sources is critical for reducing excessive algae growth and eutrophication of impoundments on the Eau Claire River. Specifically, land use modeling of the watershed for these lakes has identifi ed the agricultural lands in the upper portion of this watershed as important locations for utilization of best management practices for phosphorus control .

Date  2010

Ecological Landscapes for North Fork Eau Claire River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

The North Fork Eau Claire River Watershed is located in three ecological landscapes: the Forest Transition, the North Central Forest and the Central Sand Plains. The Forest Transition Ecological Landscape 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. The North Central Forest Ecological Landscape occupies much of the northern third of Wisconsin. Its landforms are characterized by end and ground moraines with some pitted outwash and bedrock controlled areas. Kettle depressions and steep ridges are found in the northern portion. Two prominent areas in this Ecological Landscape are the Penokee-Gogebic Iron Range in the north extending into Michigan, and Timm's Hill, the highest point in Wisconsin (1,951 feet) in the south. Soils consist of sandy loam, sand, and silts. The vegetation is mainly forest, with many wetlands and some agriculture, though the growing season is not as favorable as it is in southern Wisconsin. Lake Superior greatly influences the northern portion of the Ecological Landscape especially during the winter season, producing greater snowfall than in most areas in Wisconsin. The historic vegetation was primarily hemlock-hardwood forest dominated by hemlock, sugar maple, and yellow birch. There were some smaller areas of white and red pine forest scattered throughout the Ecological Landscape, and individual white pines trees were a component of the hemlock-hardwood forest. Harvesting hemlock to support the tanneries was common at the turn of the century, and the species soon became a minor component of forests due to over-harvesting and lack of regeneration. Currently, forests cover approximately 80% of this Ecological Landscape. The northern hardwood forest is dominant, made up of sugar maple, basswood, and red maple, and also including some scattered hemlock and white pine pockets within stands. The aspen-birch forest type group is also relatively abundant, followed by spruce-fir. A variety of wetland community types also are present, both forested and non-forested. The Central Sand Plains Ecological Landscape, located in central Wisconsin, occurs on a flat, sandy lake plain, and supports agriculture, forestry, recreation, and wildlife management. The Ecological Landscape formed in and around what was once Glacial Lake Wisconsin, which contained glacial meltwater extending over 1.1 million acres at its highest stage. Soils are primarily sandy lake deposits, some with silt-loam loess caps. Sandstone buttes carved by rapid drainage of the glacial lake, or by wave action when they existed as islands in the lake, are distinctive features of this landscape. The historic vegetation of the area included extensive wetlands of many types, including open bogs, shrub swamps, and sedge meadows. Prairies, oak forests, savannas and barrens also occurred in the Ecological Landscape. An area of more mesic forest with white pine and hemlock was found in the northwest portion, including a significant pinery in eastern Jackson County. Today, nearly half of the Ecological Landscape is nonforested, in agriculture and grassland. Most of the historic wetlands were drained early in the 1900s and are now used for vegetable cropping. The forested portion is mostly oak-dominated forest, followed by aspen and pines. A minor portion is maple-basswood forest and lowland hardwoods.

Date  2010

Hydrologic Features

The North Fork of the Eau Claire River watershed’s low flows, in conjunction with some effects of polluted runoff, may be limiting the potential biological uses of the streams in this watershed. Many point sources are located in and around the village of Thorp (Clark County) that discharge to both surface and ground waters.

Date  2010

Fisheries

The Wolf River is a clear, medium hard water stream that meanders through portions of Clark, Taylor, Chippewa, and Eau Claire Counties. The stream’s fishery consists primarily of panfish and forage species, but there may be bass and carp present as these two species have been reported in Chippewa County.

Date  2010

North Fork Eau Claire River Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in North Fork Eau Claire River Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

The watershed has one impaired water, but overall fairly diverse warmwater fisheries are supported including multiple coldwater streams supported by groundwater fed streams and relatively intact habitat for salmonid species. The North Fork of the Eau Claire River watershed’s low flows, in conjunction with some effects of polluted runoff, may be limiting the potential biological uses of the streams in this watershed. Over 400 miles of streams in the watershed range from small first order streams to the large Eau Claire River. Many point sources are located in and around the village of Thorp (Clark County) that discharge to both surface and ground waters. Twenty-three miles of streams in the watershed are classified trout waters (Class I, II or III), and one of these -- Swim Creek -- is considered an Exceptional Resource Water.

Date  2010

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Lakes and Impoundments

Twenty-five (25) lakes covering 120 acres are located in this watershed. The largest, Lake Chapman, is the subject of a small scale lakes grant received in 2007 byr the City of Stanley. The City of Stanley proposes to study Chapman Lake in Chippewa Co and develop a plan for lake enhancement. Major project elements to include: 1) Watershed mapping, 2) Analysis for sediment and nutrient inflows, 3) Meetings with DNR staff, 4) Public meetings to establish community vision, 5) Plan development and final report. Chapman Lake, an impoundment on the Wolf River in Stanley, had its dam renovated in 2009-2010 and is being considered for dredging. In the summer of 2006 it experienced a significant fish kill attributed to low oxygen. Flow into the lake ceases during dry conditions. The lack of inflow, and naturally low oxygen levels of water entering the lake during dry periods, limits the lakes potential to maintain water quality and support fish. Like the river above the lake, the lake’s potential to maintain water quality and support fish is limited by natural conditions. Lake-specific recommendations for monitoring, classification & management: A volunteer program for monitoring lake water quality and invasive species should be established at Chapman Lake. Chapman Lake habitat would benefit from placement of woody structure in the form of tree drops or cribs.

Date  2010

Wetland Health

Historically, an estimated 17% of the North Fork of the Eau Claire River watershed consisted of wetlands, based on hydric soils information. Based on Wisconsin’s Wetland Inventory information, 7% of the watershed remains as wetlands today. Lands that have hydric soils, but are not identifi ed as wetland are considered lost wetlands, and make up 10% of the watershed 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 65% of the existing emergent wetlands and 13% of the remaining forested wetlands. Reed canary grass domination inhibits successful establishment of native wetland species. Wetland Restorability There are an estimated 13,000 acres of lost wetlands in the watershed, where hydric soils are present, but wetland function is gone, due to drainage, filling or other activities. Land uses on these lost wetlands are predominantly cropland (41%) and deciduous forests (45%). A small portion has been converted to urban or other uses (14%) (Figure 3). Those areas in cropland uses may be considered compatible with wetland restoration. Actual restorability will depend on many site specifi c conditions, including landowner interest, reversibility of hydrologic changes and impacts on adjacent lands. In the Clark County portion of the watershed, a substantial amount of the County Forest is forested land on hydric soils, and it is unlikely that these or similar lands would be converted back to wetland. Most other land uses such as urban development are not considered potentially restorable.

Date  2010

Impaired Waters

The Wolf River is a 24-mile long warm water tributary to the North Fork of the Eau Claire River that originates in southwestern Taylor County and fl ows south into Chapman Lake, a millpond in the City of Stanley. The Wolf River fl ows south out of Chapman Lake and joins the North Fork Eau Claire River in northeastern Eau Claire County. The Wolf River is a clear, medium hard water stream that meanders through portions of Clark, Taylor, Chippewa, and Eau Claire Counties. At least 70 percent of the land adjacent to the stream has been cleared in addition to 94 percent of the land included in the watershed area. There is no public land adjoining the stream; however, public access is possible from six road crossings. The headwaters, upstream from Chapman Lake, are intermittent and fully support a warm water forage fishery. The stream is classifi ed as a warm water sport fishery from the Chapman Lake dam downstream to the confl uence with the North Fork Eau Claire River. A diverse forage fishery, along with some smallmouth bass and northern pike, has been documented in the stream below Chapman Lake. The stream is relatively small and therefore has limited habitat for gamefish, especially adults. Continuous dissolved oxygen monitoring completed upstream of Chapman Lake found concentrations below the water quality standard. The headwaters of the Wolf River are intermittent and fl ow through large wetland complexes. Low oxygen levels documented in the headwaters are a result of these natural environmental conditions. This section of river is not listed on the 303d list because these contributing factors are natural and uncontrollable. The Wolf River, from the Chapman Lake dam downstream to Worden Road, is not supporting its designated use due to dissolved oxygen standards violations. Therefore, this section of river is identifi ed as impaired on the Federal 303 d list. The river was originally listed as impaired due to low dissolved oxygen levels found during the 1980s. Targeted monitoring was completed in 2006 to document dissolved oxygen levels and determine the current biological health of the stream. Data collection included fi sh surveys, macroinvertebrate sampling and continuous dissolved oxygen monitoring. Continuous dissolved oxygen monitoring completed for the entire month of June resulted in levels below 5 mg/L 22% of the time at CTH MM and 0% of the time downstream at River Road. Dissolved oxygen levels fl uctuated substantially at CTH MM as a result of photosynthesis and respiration of filamentous algae. The growth of fi lamentous algae is a result of excessive nutrients, slow streamfl ow and the open canopy in this reach of stream. Downstream from Worden Road,the stream corridor is mostly shaded and fi lamentous algae growth is minimal or absent. As a result, oxygen levels remain above the water quality standard. Additional biological results confirmed that the river below River Road is not impaired and should not be on the 303d list.

Date  2010

List of Impaired Waters
Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Small Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/2007
Waters Involved
Chapman Lake
Status
Complete

City Of Stanley: Chapman Vision: The City of Stanley proposes to study Chapman Lake in Chippewa Co and develop a plan for lake enhancement. Major project elements to include: 1) Watershed mapping, 2) Analysis for sediment and nutrient inflows, 3) Meetings with DNR staff, 4) Public meetings to establish community vision, 5) Plan development and final report.


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

City Of Stanley: Chapman Vision: The City of Stanley proposes to study Chapman Lake in Chippewa Co and develop a plan for lake enhancement. Major project elements to include: 1) Watershed mapping, 2) Analysis for sediment and nutrient inflows, 3) Meetings with DNR staff, 4) Public meetings to establish community vision, 5) Plan development and final report.


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

A number of waters have been monitored for various parameters in this watershed. Fisheries projects include a wide variety of "baseline" monitoring and targeted fieldwork to gain specific knowledge related to Wisconsin's fish communities. This work has been conducted on: Beeman Creek, Goggle-Eye Creek, Little Otter Creek, Loper Creek, McGrogan Creek, North Fork Eau Claire River, Robinson Creek, Roger Creek, Sterling Creek, Swim Creek, Unnamed, and the Wolf River. Aquatic Invasives Monitoring has been conducted on Chapman Lake, as well as other waters in the area. Most of the lake quality or lake health monitoring has been conducted through the Citizen Lake Monitoring Network.

Date  2010

North Fork Eau Claire River Watershed

Goals

3/17/2010
Modeling has identified the following cropland practices with the most effective practices listed first: * Increase soil cover and residue on surface using no-till * Decrease erosion through contour & strip cropping * Increase soil cover and residue on soil surface using reduced tillage practices * Reduce soil phosphorus to crop need and reduce manure inputs by 20% using nutrient management * Reduce nutrient inputs by reducing manure P content through decreasing the amount of phosphorus in dairy rations Complete this land use modeling report and use the results to better direct BMP selection in all contributing watersheds.
8/8/2010
Reduction of phosphorus loading from this watershed will be needed to reduce excessive algae growth in lakes Eau Claire and Altoona, downstream impoundments on the Eau Claire River. Specifically, land use modeling of the watershed for these lakes has identifi ed the agricultural lands in the upper portion of this watershed as important locations for utilization of best management practices for phosphorus control. Modeling work has identifi ed the most effective practices to implement in the upstream watersheds to achieve phosphorus and sediment reductions.

Priorities

3/2/2010
Issues of concern in the basin include: loss and fragmentation of native habitats from growth and development; sediment and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) delivery to water bodies from both point and non-point sources; and threats to the high quality and abundant groundwater sources.
Watershed Recommendations
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
 
Date
Status
Volunteer monitoring lake water quality and invasive species should be established at Chapman Lake.(Type B).
1/1/2010
Proposed
 
Hire County Aquatic Invasives Coordinator
 
Date
Status
Hire Aquatic Invasives (AIS) County Coordinator - Chippewa
1/1/2011
Not Proposed
Projects
 
Hire County Aquatic Invasives Coordinator
 
Date
Status
Hire Aquatic Invasives (AIS) County Coordinator - Clark
1/1/2011
Not Proposed
Projects
 
Lake Management Plan Implementation
 
Date
Status
Reduce phosphorus loading to reduce excessive algae growth in Lakes Eau Claire and Altoona. Implement key best management practices on agricultural lands in the upper portion of this watershed for phosphorus control.
8/3/2010
Proposed
 
Lake Management Plan Implementation
 
Date
Status
Chapman Lake habitat would benefi t from placement of woody structure in the form of tree drops or cribs.
7/30/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 2146500
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 2146500, AU:3995739
5/21/2016
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 5011570
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 5011570, AU:3995766
5/21/2016
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
Assessment Monitoring of WBIC 5539296 Unnamed Stream: Beeman Creek.
6/1/2011
Proposed
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
Conduct water quality monitoring of Chapman Lake (Type B).
1/1/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
 
Date
Status
WDNR should conduct additional continuous oxygen monitoring during summer low flow conditions on the Wolf River and evaluate and report data collected since the Stanley treatment plant was renovated (Type B).
1/1/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor with Baseline Survey
 
Date
Status
Stream assessment monitoring should be completed on Swim, Sterling, Shambaugh, Loper and Beeman Creeks to determine appropriate stream classifi cations. These streams are classifi ed as trout water even though historic data does not support a cold water designation or data does not exist.
7/30/2010
Proposed
 
Restore Riparian Habitat
 
Date
Status
With 58% of original wetlands already lost, preservation of remaining wetland functional values, such as fish and wildlife habitat, runoff storage and filtering capacity should be a high priority.
8/3/2010
Proposed
 
Restore Wetlands
 
Date
Status
Where opportunities arise, wetland restoration should be promoted.
8/8/2010
Proposed
 
Restore Wetlands
 
Date
Status
Where opportunities arise, wetland restoration should be promoted.
8/3/2010
Proposed
 
Runoff Evaluation
 
Date
Status
Cropland practices that increase soil cover and decrease erosion and runoff to wetlands should be promoted.
8/3/2010
Proposed
 
Standards or Variance Review
 
Date
Status
The listing of McGrogan Creek in State Administrative Code NR104 needs to be removed.
7/30/2010
Proposed
 
TMDL Development
Wolf River TMDL
Date
Status
A TMDL needs to be completed for the 303d listed impaired reach of the Wolf River.
7/30/2010
Proposed
 
Trout Classification Mgmt
 
Date
Status
Trout stream classifi cations of some streams may need to be changed as a result of the additional monitoring identifi ed above.
7/30/2010
Proposed
 
Wastewater Monitoring, Management
 
Date
Status
WDNR should collect spring oxygen and temperature data on the North Fork of the Eau Claire River for verification of Thorp treatment plant effluent limits (Type B).
1/1/2010
Proposed
 
Wastewater Monitoring, Management
 
Date
Status
WRM should evaluate and report the existing stream oxygen, temperature and macroinvertebrate data collected since the Thorp treatment plant began discharging to the North Fork of the Eau Claire River (Type B).
1/1/2010
Proposed
 
Water Quality Planning
 
Date
Status
Complete land use modeling report and use the results to better direct BMP selection in all contributing watersheds.
8/3/2010
Proposed
 
North Fork Eau Claire River WatershedWater Plans and PartnershipsRead the Watershed Plan

A watershed plan was finalized for this watershed in 2010.

Date  2010

Watershed History Note

In 1870, the area that is now the City of Thorp, located along McGrogan Creek in Clark County in the North Fork Eau Claire River watershed, was a land of timber. The abundant pines and hardwoods were the base of the area’s first industries, in shingles, barrel staves, and charcoal. The earth furnished red clay for bricks used to construct businesses and homes, many of which are still in use. When James and Ephrime Boardman built the first cabins, there were no roads. The homestead was ten miles from a neighbor, with camps of Chippewa Indians in what are now the townships of Reseburg, Worden and Butler. New settlers arrived and first trails, and then roads, were carved out of the wilderness. Farms sprang up on the fertile land, then schools, saloons, general stores, and churches, were established. Within ten years, there was the beginning of a thriving community. The Village of Thorp was established on May 29, 1893 with a population of 883. In April 1948 the Village of Thorp became the City of Thorp with a population of 1,052. In the early 1900's, dairying was so well established that farmers brought cheese makers to the area to begin processing the now famous cheeses. These cheeses, and traditional sausages can still be purchased as one travels through the area. The original Boardman and Indian trails became part of the famous YELLOWSTONE TRAIL. In the 1920's, this road, which ran from Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, to Puget Sound in Washington, was the nation's first interstate highway to be completed. The intersection of State Highway 73 and County Road X in Thorp, are now marked with the yellow stones and signs, which marked the original road. A new movement is in progress to not only retrace the trail in Clark County, but throughout the State of Wisconsin.

Date  2010