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Lisa Helmuth
Water Quality Bureau

Sand Creek IEM project

General overview

Entrance to Sand Creek IEM project

The Sand Creek IEM project is located on a 710-acre piece of land (30 acres in easement, 680 acres in fee title) in Monroe County (640 acres) and Jackson County (70 acres) most of which is in a square mile block. This large block of land allows us to work within a fairly large spatial scale.

Sand Creek flows through this piece of property. It is estimated that approximately 1½ mile of stream thread traverses this property. Sand Creek is classified as a class I Brook Trout stream containing naturally reproducing trout.

The associated uplands are comprised of old growth timber and agricultural fields. The soils predominantly consist of sandy loam. Soil loss is somewhat controlled by pine wind brakes dispersed throughout the property.

Upland area with tree planting & native upland vegetation

Evaluation & goals

  • Sand Creek channel was braided due to beaver activity in the area and due to fallen trees into the stream directing flow into the banks causing erosion and breaching of the stream channel. The goal was to remove obstructions in the stream and to construct in stream sand bag structures in order to contain water flow in a single channel. This would help scour and deepen the channel as well as provide habitat for existing native trout. Scouring of the channel should also expose adequate bed material (rock and gravel) to provide spawning areas for trout.
  • Manage the upland to provide diversity and a variety of uses. The goal was to plant cool weather grasses and establish oak prairies to increase diversity of the area. One small parking lot was constructed and the existing trails will receive minor improvement to create a consumptive use recreational area.
  • Evaluate the areas past, current and future ecological capability. The goal was to conduct a survey with assistance of Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation, of the entire property (water and land) to insure that the diversity of species is maintained and improved.


Sandbag structure
  • 50+ in water structures were installed to confine the channel and create trout habitat.
  • 500 oak seedlings were planted on the open upland areas to create diversity.
  • A prescribed burn on 34 acres was completed to allow planting of native prairie grasses, 500 red oak, 1700 white spruce and 2100 wildlife shrubs.
  • One parking lot was constructed to encourage the public to use area for fishing, hiking, hunting and other recreational uses.
  • A sign was constructed to advertise the area and list the partners who assisted in this project.
  • A total of 90 acres have been planted to cool season grasses.
  • A severe windstorm in 1998 necessitated the salvage cutting and sale of 165 acres of jack pine and oak. An additional 45 acres of salvage sales remain to be cut.
  • Two erosion sites created by the July 1998 storm were repaired.
  • The 165 acres of salvage timber sale area has been segmented into compartments by logging roads, i.e., future fire breaks for future prescribed burns to remove slash and prickly ash to create an oak savannah.
  • Approximately 40 acres of an oak timber sale, cut prior to DNR ownership, had the residual overstory removed by a Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) crew to promote aspen sprouting for wildlife.
  • Set up 2 timber sales. 1 sale completed and 1 pending.
  • The access road to the southern portion of the property has been renovated by grading.
  • All property boundaries have been posted.

External partners

Placement of structure
  • Quad County Turkey, LTD., donated money and time to plant hardwoods in the abandoned agricultural fields.
  • Trout Unlimited donated money to purchase the sandbags and timber to construct the in stream structures.
  • Fort McCoy Youth Program worked along side our Fisheries staff in installing the in stream structures and clearing unwanted logs and vegetation from the stream.
  • Jackson County WCC crew cut residual overstory on a 40 acre oak sale to promote wildlife habitat.

Internal partners

  • Fisheries staff completed the stream work that included placing in stream structures, opening up the stream channel by removing logs and vegetation and protecting the stream bank from eroding by strategically placing sand bags and brush bundles in the stream. This project was recognized by Trout Unlimited in their magazine.
  • Wildlife and Forestry district field operations assisted in the upland controlled burn, planting of upland hardwoods, constructed parking lots, planting native prairie grasses, dismantling and removing and burying existing building foundations and updating the Forest Stewardship plan.
  • Water Supply directed the proper abandonment of the existing well. DFO completed the project.
  • Water regulation and zoning authorized the placement of in stream structures by issuing the necessary permits.
  • BER staff conducted an "overview" survey and pointed out areas of concern or special consideration to staff.
Last revised: Thursday December 10 2015