The Middle Kickapoo River Watershed was selected in 1989 as a priority watershed
project under the Wisconsin Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement Program. The
goal of the program is to improve and protect the water quality of streams, lakes,
wetlands and groundwater by reducing pollutants from urban and rural nonpoint
Nonpoint sources of pollution in the watershed include: eroding agricultural lands,
streambanks, roadsides and developing urban areas, runoff from livestock wastes and
established urban areas. Pollutants from nonpoint sources are carried to the stream or
groundwater through the action of rainfall runoff, snow melt and seepage.
Common water resource problems in the watershed include streambank erosion,
sedimentation of riffle and pool areas, organic loading from animal waste, elevated water
temperatures and extreme flooding. In recent years, the watershed streams have
experienced both drought and unusually severe spring flooding. Trout populations are
depressed from earlier surveys due in part to three years of drought followed by spring
floods in 1989 and 1990 which virtually eliminated two-year classes of fish from several
Ontario, La Farge, and Viola wastewater treatment plants all discharge to surface water
in the watershed.
For a more detailed discussion of water quality conditions in the watershed, see the
report "Middle Kickapoo River Priority Watershed Water Quality Appraisal: Final Report"
The Western Coulee and Ridges Ecological Landscape in southwestern and west central Wisconsin is characterized by its highly eroded, driftless topography and relatively extensive forested landscape. Soils are silt loams (loess) and sandy loams over sandstone residuum over dolomite. Several large rivers including the Wisconsin, Mississippi, Chippewa, Kickapoo and Black flow through or border the Ecological Landscape.
Historical vegetation consisted of southern hardwood forests, oak savanna, scattered prairies, and floodplain forests and marshes along the major rivers. With Euro-American settlement, most of the land on ridgetops and valley bottoms was cleared of oak savanna, prairie, and level forest for agriculture. The steep slopes between valley bottom and ridgetop, unsuitable for raising crops, grew into oak-dominated forests after the ubiquitous presettlement wildfires were suppressed. Current vegetation is a mix of forest (40%), agriculture, and grassland with some wetlands in the river valleys. The primary forest cover is oak-hickory (51%) dominated by oak species and shagbark hickory. Maple-basswood forests (28%), dominated by sugar maple, basswood and red maple, are common in areas that were not subjected to repeated presettlement wildfires. Bottomland hardwoods (10%) are common in the valley bottoms of major rivers and are dominated by silver maple, ashes, elms, cottonwood, and red maple. Relict conifer forests including white pine, hemlock and yellow birch are a rarer natural community in the cooler, steep, north slope microclimates.
Wildlife and Habitat
Most of the perennial tributaries to the Kickapoo River in this watershed are cold water
communities that support a limited trout fishery. The Middle Kickapoo River Watershed
has four Class I, five Class II and 10 Class III trout streams, and 18 cold water forage
fishery streams. The Kickapoo River supports a marginal warm water sport fishery. Fish
surveys conducted in 1990 found brook, brown and rainbow trout and 22 minnow and
forage fish species. White sucker, creek chub, Johnny darter and fantail darters were the
most common forage species.
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.
Hire Aquatic Invasives (AIS) County Coordinator - Monroe
Watershed History Note
The Village of Viola is located on the border of Vernon and Richland Counties in the Middle Kickapoo River Watershed. The Native American word "kickapoo" means to go "here and there", or crooked, which is an appropriate description of the Kickapoo River.
The early history of Viola goes further back than the European settlers or the Native Americans. It goes back to a group of people known as the Mound Builders. Although they left no written record, their mounds along the rivers and bluffs in this part of the country are proof of their culture. Many of the mounds are shaped in forms representing birds and animals. Excavations of the mounds have yielded implements, made of stone and copper, and are beautifully fashioned.
Over thirty mounds can be found scattered over an area of one hundred acres in the countryside around Viola. The village has set aside land known as Mound Park to preserve those mounds found directly in the Village. The early settlers, using their imagination, gave these mounds their names. The largest one of all was called the Eagle. The wings and tail are extended as though sailing in the air. From top to tip, the wings measure about 495 feet. Not far from this one is another called the Hawk, which is only 133 feet in length. There are two others near-by, side by side, with wing tips touching and facing south, are called Wild Geese.