Watershed - Big and Douglas Creeks (BR03)
Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed

Details

The Big and Douglas Creeks watershed encompasses approximately 210 square miles in Jackson, Monroe and La Crosse counties. A small portion also lies in Trempealeau County. The conversion of land to agricultural uses is not extreme. However, the sandy soils, which characterize this watershed, are prone to erosion with little disturbance. Many streams within the watershed naturally contain shifting sand bottoms. Some streams have exposed banks that contribute sand and sediment during high flow events.

Date  2017

Population, Land Use

The Big and Douglas Creeks watershed is 210.33 mi�. Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (53%), agricultural (33%) and a mix of grassland (7%) and other uses (7%) open land and water, wetlands, and suburban (Figure 2). This watershed has 375.17 stream miles, 473.57 lake acres and 7,564.97 wetland acres.

Date  2017

Ecological Landscapes for Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

This watershed is located in the Western Coulee and Ridges Ecological Landscape in southwestern and west central Wisconsin and 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.

Date  2010

Hydrologic Features

The Big and Douglas Creeks HUC 10 watershed covers roughly 210 square miles in Jackson, La Crosse, and Monroe counties. Sandy soils dominate throughout the watershed and are easily susceptible to erosion. The streams throughout the watershed are comprised mostly of shifting sand bottoms and some streams have unprotected banks that contribute sand and sediment during high flow events, such as major storms. Sand and sediment deposits reduce the depth of streams and when combined with high flows, can widen the streams. As streams become wider and shallower, temperatures can rise and exceed the range conducive to the survival of trout.

Date  2017

Fisheries

Fish Species Found In the TWA study there were fifteen species found within the entire Big-Douglas Creeks HUC 10 watershed, which are shown in Figure 9. The two fish species most commonly found throughout the streams in this watershed were brook trout and burbot. Brook trout prefer cool, clear, headwater streams (Becker, 1983). Burbot are accustomed to spending time in cool waters of large rivers, or their tributaries (Becker, 1983). Of the fifteen species present, three were intolerant, four were tolerant, and eight were intermediate species.

In the Rathbone-Soper Creeks HUC 12 subwatershed, nine species of fish were found throughout the eight sites that were surveyed, which are shown in Figure 10. The two fish species most commonly found throughout the streams in this subwatershed were brook trout and central mudminnows. The central mudminnow prefers pools or areas with no or slow flowing waters and areas that are moderately to densely vegetated (Becker, 1983). Of the nine species found, two were intolerant, four were tolerant, and three were intermediate.

The fishery is only one environmental indicator and for this reason, the quality of the resources should be looked at in the context of overall conditions including habitat and macroinvertebrates. The cool water IBIs (Lyons, 2012), when applied to the natural community indicated by the fishery assemblage, rates the fishery of these systems to be ?poor? to ?excellent?, which is shown in Figure 5. There were ten of the twenty-seven total sites that did not have a FIBI rating because there were too few fish collected to be able to calculate a score. . Twelve of the twenty-seven sites were ?good? to ?excellent,? which indicates that there is suitable habitat and adequate water quality conditions in about half of the stream sites.

Macroinvertebrate data is also useful in characterizing stream conditions and the sites sampled are shown in Figure 6. The sites in the Big-Douglas and Rathbone-Soper Creeks watersheds had macroinvertebrate IBI values ranging from fair to excellent. The macroinvertebrate IBI scores did not always correlate with the habitat scores and at some sites the macroinvertebrate IBI was good or excellent and the associated habitat was ?poor? or ?fair.? Local stressors may be influencing the macroinvertebrate communities in these areas.

Date  2017

Wildlife and Habitat

Numerous aquatic dependent species of concern have been documented in this watershed. Management decisions should consider potential affects

Habitat scores throughout all sites surveyed generally ranged from poor to good, with only one site in the Rathbone-Soper subwatershed having a rating of excellent, which could be due to the habitat restoration work that was performed at this site in the past. The main limitations to habitat were fine sediment deposition, bank erosion, and lack of fish cover and complex stream characteristics, such as riffles and deeper pools.

Date  2017

Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

The Rathbone-Soper TWA study consisted of Fish Index of Biological Integrity (FIBI), Macroinvertebrate Index of Biological Integrity (MIBI) surveys, Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI), total phosphorus (TP) samples, and qualitative habitat surveys conducted at 8 sites as well as at 19 sites within the Big-Douglas Creeks HUC 10. Five of the HUC 10 and 2 of the HUC 12 sites had growing season phosphorus collected. There were six additional one-time grab phosphorus samples collected throughout the Rathbone-Soper Creeks HUC 12 watershed. One of the growing season phosphorus sites, the pour point of the HUC 12, also received six growing season TP samples, along with one time nitrogen series, total suspended solids and chloride samples. Most of the streams in the Big-Douglas Creeks HUC 10 are modeled to be coldwater or cool-cold headwaters or mainstems (Lyons, 2008). The department has recently developed a draft method to determine whether or not the modeled natural community is accurate based on the fishery assemblage and climate conditions (Lyons, 2013). In most cases, the thermal composition of species (cold, warm, or transitional) indicated these streams were generally modeled correctly. The streams in the Rathbone-Soper Creeks HUC 12 were also modeled to be coldwater or cool-cold headwaters or mainstems (Lyons, 2008). All stream sites surveyed for fish were verified to agree with the model in this subwatershed.

Date  2017

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Impaired Waters

In the 2014 TWA study, Growing season phosphorus concentrations varied amongst the streams and the sites . The department�s listing methodology for impaired waters (WDNR, 2013) recommends listing sites where the median phosphorus concentration exceeds 0.075 mg/l on wadeable streams and 0.1 mg/l on rivers.

The impairment listing protocol uses a 90 percent confidence interval about the median for listing streams and rivers. All five sites in the Big-Douglas Creeks watershed that had growing season phosphorus concentrations collected were higher than the wadeable statewide standard. This is consistent with the existing 303(d) impaired waters listing for each of the following streams: Big Creek, Davis Creek, Douglas Creek, Roaring Creek, and Sand Creek. Eight sites were sampled for phosphorus in the Rathbone-Soper Creeks subwatershed (Figure 8). Growing season phosphorus sampling on Soper Creek confirms the existing 303 (d) impaired waters listing.

Dustin Creek had a median growing season phosphorus concentration of 0.22 mg/L, which is higher than the 0.075 mg/L standard and this stream may be proposed for impairment listing in the next cycle due to nutrient criteria exceedances. Of the three grab phosphorus samples collected on Rathbone Creek, two were below the standard and one exceeded the standard. Additional growing season phosphorus sampling should be conducted on Rathbone Creek to get a more complete representation of phosphorus concentrations. A single grab total phosphorus sample on Jenkins Valley Creek was also higher than the statewide phosphorus standard and additional growing season sampling will be needed to assess for phosphorus exceedance.

Date  2017

List of Impaired Waters

Lakes and Impoundments

Watershed Documents
Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/1/1996
Waters Involved
Cataract Pond
Status
Complete

Town Of Little Falls: Cataract Mill Pond Dredging Design Planning: The Town of Little Falls proposes to develop a plan for the dredging of Cataract Pond that includes 1) determining sediment delivery amount, 2) a sediment analysis, 3) determine sediment trap site or partial bottom draw to remove sediment, 4) determine dredging area, 5) locate sediment disposal area and 6) develop sediment stabilization plan. The project will result in a final report describing the project results. A paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report will be provided to the Department of Natural Resources. The sponsor will disseminate information about the project to the public by summary report mailing, entire report mailing, public meeting, and local newspaper article. end.


Grant Details
River Protection Grant
Date
7/1/2002
Waters Involved
Dustin Creek
Status
Complete

Cataract Sportsmen'S Club: Dustin Creek Habitat Improvement Project: The goals of the project are to reduce the streambank erosion by placing riprap at necessary locations. The erosion of the stream bed itself will also be reduced by placing gravel beds immediately upstream of the Rock Wiers at strategic locations. The DNR's LaCrosse office did a stream survey in the summer of 2001 and will conduct another at a later date to compare the results.

Project results will be shared with the public through media coverage -- local newspaper and possibly an outdoors television episode. A final report will be submitted to the River Protection Program.

The DNR will be provided with both a paper and electronic copy of the final report. Information will be disseminated to the public as described in the grant application.


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

This Targeted Watershed Assessment (TWA) was conducted in the Big-Douglas HUC 10 and Rathbone-Soper HUC 12 watersheds. The Rathbone and Soper Creeks HUC 12 subwatershed lies at the eastern end within the Big and Douglas Creeks watershed and was identified for evaluation due to stressed biological surveys. The Rathbone-Soper HUC 12 watershed was selected as one of the TWAs for the Western District to monitor in the 2014 field season. Nineteen sites throughout the watershed were selected for fish, habitat, macroinvertebrate, and water chemistry sampling. The sites were monitored in 2014 to evaluate and document current stream conditions and potential impairments (Figure 4). An additional eight sites in the adjacent Rathbone-Soper HUC 12 subwatershed were surveyed for a more targeted assessment of this smaller area, including the pour point of the watershed which included growing season total phosphorus sampling. A total of twenty-seven sites were surveyed in the HUC10 watershed and HUC12 subwatershed.

Date  2017

Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed

Priorities

10/13/2017
The department should review land use and nutrient management efforts in the Big-Douglas watershed and Rathbone-Soper subwatershed to determine if any improvements can be made to reduce phosphorus delivery to the streams.
10/13/2017
The department should work with watershed organizations and county land and water conservation departments on outreach efforts with landowners in the watershed to educate citizens on the importance of streams and techniques for preserving and improving stream corridors and reducing fine sediment delivery to streams.
Watershed Recommendations
Habitat Restoration - Instream
North Branch Douglas Creek (WBIC: 1692100)
Date
Status
The stream was heavily pastured with frequent eroding areas and poor bank stability in general. According to survey notes, the banks were somewhat vegetated, but it did not extend far and the stream was littered with concrete and trash.
10/14/2017
Proposed
 
Hire County Aquatic Invasives Coordinator
 
Date
Status
Hire Aquatic Invasives (AIS) County Coordinator - Monroe
1/1/2011
Not Proposed
Projects
 
Hire County Aquatic Invasives Coordinator
 
Date
Status
Hire Aquatic Invasives (AIS) County Coordinator - Jackson
1/1/2011
Not Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Printz Creek mIBI
Date
Status
AU 14126, poor mIBI, Station 10030733
1/1/2018
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Fish Community
 
Date
Status
Water Division staff should conduct physical, biological, and chemical surveys of Douglas Creek.
7/1/2013
Proposed
 
Monitor Fish Tissue
Confirm FCA: IW pre-2000 data
Date
Status
1676700 name Black River TMDL ID 51 Start Mile 77.18 End Mile 90.64
11/21/2011
Proposed
 
Monitor Stressor Identification
Rathbone and Jenks Valley Creeks Monitoring
Date
Status
Rathbone 1691300 and Jenkins Valley Creeks 1693500 should have additional phosphorus monitoring to determine if the phosphorus criteria is exceeded; the samples collected should fill known ?gaps? in monthly data for the statistical approach used for assessments.
10/13/2017
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor and/or Protect Groundwater, Sourcewater
 
Date
Status
WDNR staff should continue to encourage communities to develop wellhead protection plans in the Watershed and the whole basin.
7/1/2010
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Dustin Creek Impaired Water Listing
Date
Status
Dustin Creek should be considered for listing in the 2018 or later impaired waters list due to exceedances of the total phosphorus criteria.
10/13/2017
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitoring Ecosystem
 
Date
Status
A comprehensive mussel survey should be conducted on the Black River and its major tributaries.  Before any decision is made to riprap eroding sand banks of the Black River, a mussel survey should be conducted.
7/1/2013
Proposed
 
Big and Douglas Creeks WatershedWater Plans and Partnerships

Date  2017

Watershed History Note