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Bad Axe La Crosse basin

Contact information
Lisa Helmuth
Water Quality Bureau

Bad Axe La Crosse basin


About the basin

The Bad Axe La Crosse river basin in southwest Wisconsin contains numerous scenic vistas from hilltops and beautiful stream valleys. This basin's steep-forested hillsides coexist with agricultural activities located mainly in the relatively level valleys. The last glaciers to flatten Wisconsin did not reach this part of the state. Consequently, this basin is drained by a highly intricate network of primarily cold, groundwater fed streams.

Basin resources

The Bad Axe River is tributary to the Mississippi, feeding this great river directly on the western shores of Wisconsin. The Bad Axe basin is often grouped with the La Crosse, Buffalo, Trempeleau basins and is part of the Great Western Rivers area of Wisconsin. Portions of Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties lie within the Bad Axe - La Crosse River basin. The basin contains 400 hundred miles of trout streams. These coldwater streams are generally in good shape, but urban and rural stormwater runoff, barnyard runoff and inadequate sod cover on streambanks contribute to water quality problems. Use the Surface Water Data Viewer to view Trout stream locations.

Watersheds, waters

Water resource information for specific watersheds

Watershed name/view details Watershed size Lists (Streams, lakes, bays & harbors) Counties Water management unit (WMU) Major drainage system
Bad Axe River 195.49 mi 2 BL02 Water lists Vernon Bad Axe - La Crosse Mississippi River
Coon Creek 238.2 mi 2 BL03 Water lists La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon Bad Axe - La Crosse Mississippi River
Little La Crosse River 240.79 mi 2 BL05 Water lists La Crosse, Monroe Bad Axe - La Crosse Mississippi River
Lower La Crosse River 145.46 mi 2 BL04 Water lists La Crosse Bad Axe - La Crosse Mississippi River
Rush Creek 240.16 mi 2 BL01 Water lists Crawford, Grant, Vernon Bad Axe - La Crosse Mississippi River
Upper La Crosse River 126.12 mi 2 BL06 Water lists Monroe Bad Axe - La Crosse Mississippi River


The Mississippi River, Neshoc Lake, Gill Coulee Creek, Adams Valley, Angelo Pond, Squaw Creek and an unnamed creek are currently on the state's list of impaired waters. Most of these waters are listed for sedimentation of the stream bottom and loss of instream habitat. Search impaired water details.


Watershed plans

Bad Axe - La Crosse River basin map

Two watershed plans have been updated in this basin. These documents are updates to the Bad Axe La Crosse basin plan (see below).

Last revised: Wednesday December 18 2019