Watershed - Lower Bad River (LS09)
Lower Bad River Watershed

Details

The borders for this watershed have been changed for management purposes; the watershed now includes streams that formerly were treated as part of the Fish Creek Watershed. Beartrap Creek, Wood Creek Slough and the Kakagon River sub-watersheds are hydrologically connected with the lower Bad River. Since the significant complex of the Kakagon Sloughs falls within the Bad River Indian Reservation and is linked to management of the lower Bad River, these management boundaries were shifted to improve ecosystem management. The Lower Bad River Watershed extends south to its confluence with Tyler Forks. This is to more accurately reflect underlying geology. Much of the Lower Bad River Watershed falls within the Bad River Indian Reservation. Many smaller streams originate outside the bounds of the Bad River Indian Reservation and flow into tribal lands; others flow entirely within the reservation bounds. We have no current data for many of these streams, but based on discussions in Water Resources of the Bad River Reservation (Institute for Environmental Studies), and assessments made by The Nature Conservancy staff working on a project to protect the Kakagon/Bad River Sloughs and Bad River Natural Resources Department, all these streams are potentially threatened by land use practices, primarily forestry, due to the unstable nature of the red clay soils, historic clear cutting that changed the hydrologic relationship between vegetation and soils, and the voluntary nature of best management practices for forestry. Another threat to this watershed is exotic species encroachment, most notably purple loosestrife, ruffe and sea lamprey.

Date  1999

Population, Land Use

Several communities exist in this watershed: the village of Odanah, new developments at New Odanah, Birch Hill, Frank's Field and Diaperville. These developments contain an estimated 300 to 350 homes (Institute for Environmental Studies). Wastewater treatment facilities on the reservation receive National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits from U.S. EPA and are required to meet federal standards for water quality, not the more stringent state standards. Surface water contamination by past discharge was seen in and around the Birch Hill lagoons, particularly the southwest corner during May, 1994 (Institute for Environmental Studies). Until recently, the New Odanah wastewater treatment facility was not be operating at its potential (Institute for Environmental Studies). In 1996, the New Odanah wastewater lagoons were replaced by a sequencing batch reactor facility; plans are to expand this facility, which treats wastewater from New Odanah and Frank's Field, to allow more housing connections (BRNRD2).

Date  1999

Ecological Landscapes for Lower Bad River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

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.

Date  2010

Wildlife and Habitat

BIRDS American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus Kakagon Sloughs, Bad River American Black Duck - Anas rubripes Kakagon Sloughs Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus Bad River/Kakagon Sloughs, Honest John Lake, Long Island Blue-Winged Teal - Anas discors Kakagon Sloughs, Bad River Cape May Warbler - Dendroica tigrina Bad River Caspian Tern - Sterna caspia Long Island Common Loon - Gavia immer Honest John Lake, Kakagon Sloughs Common Merganse - Mergus merganser Bad River Evening Grosbeak - Coccothraustes vespertinus Odanah Swamp, Bad River Golden-Winged Warbler - Vermivora chrysoptera Bad River, Kakagon Sloughs LeConte's Sparrow - Ammodramus leconteii Kakagon Sloughs Lesser Scaup - Aythya affinis Long Island Long-Eared Owl Asio otus Long Island Merlin - Falco Columbarius Second Landing Nashville Warbler - Vermivora ruficapilla Odanah Swamp, Bad River, Honest John Lake, Kakagon Sloughs Northern Harrier - Circus cyaneus Bad River Red-Breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator Long Island Trumpeter Swan - Cygnus buccinator Honest John Lake, Kakagon Sloughs Veery - Catharus fuscescens Kakagon Sloughs, Bad River, Honest John Lake Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher - Empidonax flaviventris Odanah Swamp RARE FISH Lake Sturgeon - Acipenser fulvescens Honest John Lake MISCELLANEOUS RARE INVERTEBRATES Beach-Dune Tiger Beetle - Cicindela hirticollis rhodensis Long Island-Chequamegon Point Blue-Legged Grasshopper - Melanoplus flavidus Long Island-Chequamegon Point RARE MACROINVERTEBRATES Pelycypoda; Family Unionidae - Elliptio complanata Kakagon River Odonata; Family Gomphidae - Ophiogomphus carolus Bad River

Date  1991

Lower Bad River Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in Lower Bad River Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

The Bad River Natural Resources Department (BRNRD) began monitoring 24 sites within the exterior boundaries of the reservation in 1997. Preliminary data show areas of elevated fecal coliform due to wastewater treatment both on and off the reservation. The BRNRD monitoring program collected fecal coliform, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, temperature, phosphate, nitrate, alkalinity, suspended and dissolved solids data once a month for a year. BRNRD found that waters, in general, met healthy water criteria; the findings, however, indicated point and nonpoint source pollution impacts, primarily from municipal wastewater lagoon discharges, failing septic systems, forestry practices and poor agricultural practices. In several places, the Wisconsin water quality standard for fecal coliform bacteria was exceeded during the monitoring period. There are known areas of the watershed where cattle are allowed in streams, manure is plowed into streams, loggers clear cut shorelines and steep slopes and small communities in which the only wastewater treatment now available is failing private septic systems (BRNRD1). BRNRD has also conducted a biosentinel study using otters as ecosystem health indicators; the study found dioxin/furans, DDE (a metabolite of DDT), lindane and heptachlor epoxide in otter tissue. Funding has been procured to sample surface waters, sediments and groundwater for metals, PCBs, pesticides and dioxin/furans (BRNRD1). The tribe's only source of drinking water is groundwater; several landfills and salvage yards, especially in the Beartrap/Kakagon subwatershed, have caused concern over the quality of the groundwater on the reservation. Two papermill sludge sites on the reservation are under investigation through the Superfund process (BRNRD1).

Date  1999

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Aquatic Invasive Species

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission recently released a survey report on purple loosestrife in the Bad River watershed (Spotts 1994, 1995). The report documents significant loosestrife infestations along rivers in the watershed. The worst occur along the Marengo River and near High Bridge. The seeds float on the river and can colonize any disturbed soil. There are smaller infestations along other waterways, including the Bad River as it passes through the reservation. Common buckthorn and spotted knapweed are other exotic plant species documented along waterways in the watershed. These species stress native species. The sea lamprey is an accidently introduced species that parasitizes Lake Superior fish and is partly responsible for decline in lake trout. The sea lamprey makes use of the Bad River for spawning and rearing purposes. Historically, the Brule and Bad Rivers produced about 85 percent of the sea lampreys captured at weirs in state waters. A lamprey barrier was constructed on the Brule in 1986 which effectively eliminated future lamprey spawning above the barrier. The Bad River and some of its tributaries continue to support sea lamprey reproduction.

Date  1999

Lakes and Impoundments

Impaired Waters

List of Impaired Waters
Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Invasive Species
Date
10/1/2010
Waters Involved
Lake Superior
Status
Proposed

Risk Assessment Of Invasive Species To Tribal Resources: This project will prioritize management actions based on threats posed to culturally significant resources by invasive plants. GLIFWC has documented over 8,000 non-native invasive plant sites in the Lake Superior counties of Wisconsin and Michigan. This data is being used to develop species distribution models for invasive plants. GLIFWC will develop similar models for culturally significant native species. Comparing these models will identify which invasives pose the greatest risk, and help prioritize areas for early detection/rapid response efforts.


Grant Details
Toxics and Areas of Concern
Date
10/1/2010
Waters Involved
Lake Superior
Status
Proposed

Mercury Testing & Updating Tribal Walley Consumption Advice: GLIFWC will determine mercury levels in walleye, lake trout,
whitefish, cisco, and siscowet from Lake Superior and walleye
from inland lakes. Test results for selected fish species and
areas in Lake Superior will be compared with data from previous testing. Results from inland waters will be used to update tribal and lake specific GIS maps and consumption advice aimed at reducing health risks associated with consuming mercury contaminated walleye.


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
7/1/2002
Waters Involved
Bad River
Status
Complete

The Nature Conservancy: Bad River Watershed Council: The Nature Conservancy will conduct an organizational development and informational & educational project in the Bad River watershed in Ashland, Bayfield, and Iron Counties. Activities involved with this project include; organization of a Bad River Watershed Council, implementation of a long-term educational effort in the entire watershed, and implementation of a long-term citizen volunteer water quality monitoring program. The educational effort will include the development of a watershed council brochure and the conduct of a sociological landowner survey.

Specific deliverables for this grant project include:
1. A final report that summarizes the grant project activities and includes the watershed council mission statement and bylaws, newsletters, brochure, survey results, and the monitoring program design and manuals.

A special condition of this grant project is the recognition that the water quality data collected by the citizen volunteers and analyzed by field kit methods, does not meet the quality control standards of the U.S. Environmental Pollution Agency or the Wisconsin DNR.

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.


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
7/1/2004
Waters Involved
Bad River
Status
Complete

Bayfield Regional Conservancy: Citizen Involvment In The Bad River Waters Association Data Gathering: The Bayfield Regional Conservancy, in cooperation with the Bad River Watershed Association will sponsor a project focusing on education and membership enhancement, water quality monitoring, culvert assessment, and development of a strategic plan for restoration of fish passage and erosion control at road stream crossings.

The Bayfield Regional Conservancy will hire a volunteer coordinator to oversee the implementation of this project. This project will expand the existing water quality monitoring project with a goal of 18 monitoring sites total. The culvert assessment will continue and be expanded. Criteria for culvert restoration projects will be developed and prioritized. Culvert workshops will be provided for local town officials, road crews and a strategic plan for culvert improvement will be developed and presented.

Education efforts will include increased mailing of newsletters, surveys, volunteer training, and a leadership plan development. The BRWA bylaws will be evaluated for potential changes and updates.

Deliverables for this project include the data reports; a summary of volunteer involvment; copies of educational newsletters; the strategic plan for culvert repair and river restoration; the leadership development plan.

The Department of Natural Resources will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of all project products.


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
7/1/2009
Waters Involved
Kakagon River
Status
Complete

Bayfield Regional Conservancy: Conservation Planning For The Lake Superior Watershed, Douglas County: The Bayfield Regional Conservancy is sponsoring a project to develop a conservation plan (Plan) in Douglas County\2019s Lake Superior Watershed. The project will collect/review information about conservation values in the watershed; synthesize the info into the Plan; build a network with resource professionals and the local community; and prioritize priority conservation areas and strategies. Information, education, and outreach materials will be developed. The Plan will include GIS-based maps and information. An Executive Summary and outreach tool that explains conservation priority areas will accompany the Plan.

The final deliverables include: the Plan, Executive Summary, and outreach tool and associated GIS maps, digital images and I & E materials.

This scope is intended to summarize the detailed project scope provided in the application and does not supersede those application tasks/deliverables. Data, records, reports, and education materials, including GIS-based maps and digital images, must be submitted to the Department in a format specified by the regional lake coordinator.


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

Groundwater problems on reservation lands are typically the result of naturally high mineralization and hardness, as well as excessive iron and manganese concentrations, many above state standards for drinking water. A groundwater sampling program was initiated in 1994 as a result of private well contamination. This may be the result of de-inking sludge disposed of on reservation lands. Consultants to the reservation sampled 43 private water wells, two community water supply wells, one surface water pond and one spring (Institute for Environmental Studies). Sample analysis revealed lead levels above the federal maximum contamination level in five wells and the surface pond. One of these wells is the Diaperville community well. Results of the 1994 sampling program also showed organic constituent concentrations exceeding NR 140 groundwater quality standards in two private water supply wells, and volatile organic compounds were detected in four wells (Institute for Environmental Studies). Cadmium and chromium were detected in excess as well. The consultant recommended discontinuing human consumption of water from three wells on the basis of health concerns (Institute of Environmental Studies). Further sampling by the consultant for the potentially responsible parties and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey has taken place to determine the need for sludge removal (BRNRD2).

Date  1999

Grants and Management Projects
Lower Bad River Watershed
Watershed Recommendations
Aquatic Invasives Research
 
Date
Status
This project will prioritize management actions based on threats posed to culturally significant resources by invasive plants. GLIFWC has documented over 8,000 non-native invasive plant sites in the Lake Superior counties of Wisconsin and Michigan. This data is being used to develop species distribution models for invasive plants. GLIFWC will develop similar models for culturally significant native species. Comparing these models will identify which invasives pose the greatest risk, and help prioritize areas for early detection/rapid response efforts.
10/1/2010
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Fish Tissue
 
Date
Status
GLIFWC will determine mercury levels in walleye, lake trout, whitefish, cisco, and siscowet from Lake Superior and walleye from inland lakes. Test results for selected fish species and areas in Lake Superior will be compared with data from previous testing. Results from inland waters will be used to update tribal and lake specific GIS maps and consumption advice aimed at reducing health risks associated with consuming mercury contaminated walleye.
10/1/2010
Proposed
Projects
 
Lower Bad River WatershedWatershed History Note