Watershed - Black and Upper Nemadji River (LS02)
Black and Upper Nemadji River Watershed

Details

This watershed includes the upper portions of the Nemadji River drainage area to the border with Minnesota, and the Black River drainage. Where the Black River crosses the Superior escarpment, the river cuts through bedrock to form spectacular falls protected in Pattison State Park. Much of the watershed lies in the red clay portions of the Lake Superior Basin. A detailed discussion of water quality concerns in the Nemadji River drainage is discussed in the St. Louis River Watershed (LS01) narrative and under the lower Nemadji River.

Date  1999

Ecological Landscapes for Black and Upper Nemadji River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

The Black and Upper Nemadji Rivers Watershed is located in two Ecological Landscapes: the Northwest Lowlands and the Superior Coastal Plain. The Northwest Lowlands Ecological Landscape forms a triangular wedge in northwestern Wisconsin, bounded on the north by the Superior Coastal Plain and on the south and east by the Northwest Sands. The major landforms are ground and end moraines, with drumlins present in the southwestern portion. Topography is gently undulating. Bedrock outcroppings are rare except in association with the basalt ridge that follows the Douglas County fault line and forms part of the northern boundary of the Northwest Lowlands. Maximum local relief is approximately 350'. Waterfalls, cliffs, exposed bedrock glades, and rock-walled gorges are associated with the bedrock features. Local exposures of sandstones and/or conglomerates occur in some of these gorges. Soils are predominantly loams, with significant acreages of peat deposits in the poorly drained lowlands. Significant portions of this landscape extend westward into the state of Minnesota. The historic upland vegetation of this landscape was almost entirely forest, composed mostly of paper birch, fir, sugar maple, aspen, and white spruce, with some white and red pine on the drier ridges. The lowlands supported extensive wet forests of black spruce and tamarack, and some white cedar and black ash swamps. The notes made by US General Land Office surveyors during the mid-nineteenth century indicate that overall tree densities were high in this Ecological Landscape; also, the witness trees included many large individuals. The landscape at that time was likely a mosaic made up of young, recently disturbed forests interspersed with patches of old-growth. The present-day forests remain extensive and relatively unbroken, occupying about 76% of the landscape. Forests consist of mainly of aspen, paper birch, sugar maple, basswood, spruce, and fir. Minor amounts of white and red pine and red oak are also present. Older successional stages are currently rare. The large undisturbed peatland complexes are composed of mosaics of black spruce-tamarack swamp, muskeg, open bog, poor fen, shrub swamp, and white cedar swamp. Among the important sensitive species occurring here are the timber wolf, moose, gray jay, lesser purple fritillary, subarctic darner, and bog bluegrass. Many birds and invertebrates with generally boreal ranges are found here. Road density is notably low in the western part of the landscape. The Superior Coastal Plain is Wisconsin's northernmost Ecological Landscape, bordered on the north by southwestern Lake Superior and on the south by the Northwest Sands, the Northwest Lowlands, and the North Central Forest. The climate is strongly influenced by Lake Superior, resulting in cooler summers, warmer winters, and greater precipitation compared to more inland locations. Exposed coastal areas are subject to significant disturbance from windstorms, waves, ice, currents, and periodic water level fluctuations. These disturbance regimes play a significant role in determining both the landform and vegetation characteristics of the shoreline ecosystems. The major landform in this Ecological Landscape is a nearly level plain of lacustrine clays that slopes gently northward toward Lake Superior. The clay plain is separated into two disjunct segments by the comparatively rugged Bayfield Peninsula. An archipelago of sandstone-cored islands, the Apostles, occurs in Lake Superior just north and east of the Bayfield Peninsula. Wave carved sandstone cliffs bracket stretches of the Peninsula and also occur along the margins of several of the islands. Sand spits are a striking feature of the Lake Superior shoreline, typically separating the waters of the lake from inland lagoons and wetlands. The spits support rare and highly threatened natural communities such as beaches, dunes, interdunal wetlands, and pine barrens, and these in turn are inhabited by specially adapted plants and animals. The mouths of many of the streams entering Lake Superior are submerged, creating freshwater estuaries. A ridge of volcanic igneous rock, primarily basalt, forms the southern boundary of portions of this Ecological Landscape. Historically the Superior Coastal Plain was almost entirely forested. A distinctive mixture of white pine, white spruce, balsam fir, paper birch, balsam poplar, trembling aspen, and white cedar occurred on the lacustrine clays. White pine was strongly dominant in some areas, according to mid-nineteenth century notes left by surveyors of the US General Land Office. Mesic to dry-mesic forests of northern hardwoods or hemlock hardwoods were more prevalent on the glacial tills of the Bayfield Peninsula and throughout the Apostle Islands. Large peatlands occurred along the Lake Superior shoreline, often associated with drowned river mouths and well-developed sand spits. The most extensive of these wetland complexes were on the Bad and St. Louis rivers. A few large peatlands also occurred at inland sites, such as Bibon Swamp, in the upper White River drainage, and Sultz Swamp on the northern Bayfield Peninsula. The present clay plain forest has been fragmented by agricultural use, and today approximately one-third of this landscape is non-forested. Most of the open land is in grass cover, having been cleared and then subsequently pastured or plowed. Aspen and birch forests occupy about 40% of the total land area, having increased in prominence over the boreal conifers. On the Bayfield Peninsula, second-growth northern hardwood forests are interspersed among extensive early successional aspen stands. Older forest successional stages are now rare throughout the Superior Clay Plain. WDNR's Natural Heritage Inventory Database indicates that the following water-dependent endangered, threatened or special concern species and/or communities have been sighted in this watershed within the last 20 years. In addition, a coastal wetlands evaluation conducted in 1995 and 1996 identified a number of species and habitats described in a comprehensive report, Wisconsin's Lake Superior Coastal Wetlands Evaluation / Including Other Selected Natural Features of the Lake Superior Basin. (Epstein 1997). Black Spruce Swamp, Belden Swamp, Black Lake Bog This forest wetland community occurs primarily in acid peatlands of insular basins. Black Spruce is the dominant tree. As the sphagnum peat accumulates, the canopy may break up and a very acid muskeg will result. Open Bog. Black Lake Bog, Belden Swamp This peatland type herbaceous wetland community is dominated by deep layers of Sphagnum mosses that isolate the other members of the community from the influence of nutrient-rich groundwater or runoff. In the muskeg phase trees are usually stunted.

Date  2010

Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Accountability, Monitoring, Collaboration, Education, Partnership
Date
5/15/2015
Waters Involved
Nemadji River
Status
Complete

Addressing Excess Sedimentation Impairments In The Nemadji River Basin: The goal of this project is to assess excess sedimentation impairments in the Nemadji River basin and coordinate implementation planning about the Nemadji Basin Plan. The Nemadji watershed was included in the St. Louis River Area of Concern (SLRAOC) because of concerns about accelerated erosion and sedimentation due to land use practices dating back to the mid-1800’s. The St. Louis River AOC is impaired for excessive loading of sediment and nutrients (Beneficial Use Impairment 6). The goals of the project will be met through collection of biological, water quality, and sediment data, Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF) modelling, and development of workshops to encourage land use planning and “slow the flow” management practices in the Nemadji Watershed.


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
10/2/2001
Waters Involved
Nemadji River
Status
Complete

St. Louis River Citizen Action Committee: Membership Recruitment For The St. Louis & Nemadji River Stewardship Project: The St. Louis River Citizens Action Committee will conduct an organizational development and informational & educational project in the St. Louis and Nemadji River watersheds in Douglas County. Activities involved with this project include; distribution and dissemination of informational and educational materials on the Nemadji River Basin Project and the St. Louis River Area of Concern and the Remedial Action Plan, conduct and support of workshops and workgroup activities, expansion of the organizations Internet site, creation of a "health scorecard" for rivers to increase public understanding, and increasing the membership and participation in the activities of the organization. Reports of ongoing project activities will be disseminated via newsletter(s) or brochures(s), meeting(s), and the preparation of a final report.

Specific deliverables for this grant project will include:
**9** A final report that summarizes the grant project activities and includes examples of outreach **9** **9** materials developed.

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 brochure(s), public meeting(s), and local newspaper articles.



Black and Upper Nemadji River Watershed
Watershed Recommendations
Monitor Fish Tissue
 
Date
Status
Determine if a specific fish consumption advisory is needed for the Nemadji River by collecting fish tissue data. The adjacent St. Louis River has a fish consumption advisory for mercury and PCBs. Fish tissue data on the Nemadji, however, has not been obtained since the 1980s, and data were only obtained at the mouth of the river. Additionally, contaminants have been found in water column data for the Nemadji River that exceed several water quality standards. Suspected contaminants include mercury, PCBs, dieldrin, DDT, and 2,3,7,8-TCDD. KopperÂ’s Creek is a known upstream contaminant source for PAHs and dioxin (including 2,3,7,8-TCDD). This data will help to determine if a specific fish consumption advisory should be issued for the Nemadji River.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Monitor Targeted Area
 
Date
Status
Continue monitoring for sediment and phosphorus in the Nemadji River and its tributaries.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
TMDL Development
Nemadji River TMDL
Date
Status
Support Minnesota in their TMDL study for the Nemadji River, and support implementation actions to reduce sediment loads in the Nemadji River.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
TMDL Implementatoin
 
Date
Status
Implement actions that will help in attaining the AOC Delisting Targets.
10/5/2010
Proposed
 
Black and Upper Nemadji River WatershedWatershed History Note

The Black and Upper Nemadji River Watershed, located in Douglas County, is home to Pattison State Park, the Big Manitou, and the Little Manitou Falls along the Black River. Big Manitou Falls is the highest waterfall in the state (165 feet) and is the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. Little Manitou can be found further downstream and is 30 feet high. The Native Americans, who originally settled in the area around the falls, believed they heard the voice of the Great Spirit within the roaring of the falls and gave it the name "Gitchee Manitou".

Date  2010