Black River Targeted Watershed Assessment, Douglas County

Title

Black River Targeted Watershed Assessment: A Water Quality Report to Protect Wisconsin Watersheds
Black and Upper Nemadji River Watershed LS02, HUC12 (040103010301 , 040103010302, 040103010303)
Author: Craig Roesler, Water Quality Biologist North District (retired)
Public review draft

Setting

The Black River watershed is in western Douglas County, Wisconsin.. A Targeted Watershed Assessment monitoring project was conducted there to analyze current conditions and to make recommendations for future management actions. Most monitoring was conducted during 2016. Previous monitoring data collected from several sites between 2003 and 2014 was also compiled and reviewed. Monitoring included fish surveys, fish habitat evaluations, macroinvertebrate sampling, water quality monitoring, and continuous temperature monitoring. The extent of monitoring varied between sites.

About the Watershed
The Black River watershed is largely undeveloped (woodland and wetland comprise approximately 94% of the land area) , which generally reduces the potential for runoff and erosion. There are two small lakes in the watershed, Black Lake and Interfalls Lake. There are also two waterfalls. Big Manitou Falls is the highest waterfall in Wisconsin with a height of 165 feet. Little Manitou Falls has a height of 30 feet. Big Manitou Falls, Little Manitou Falls, and Interfalls Lake are located in Pattison State Park. The park also has a campground, a swimming beach, scenic falls overlooks, and hiking trails.

Study Summary
The Black River and Little Black River in Douglas County were monitored primarily to document their high quality. The watershed as a whole is 94.4% undeveloped. Pattison State Park with Pattison Falls -- Wisconsin's highest waterfall is located on the river. Three sites on the Black River and one site on the Little Black River have excellent indices of biological integrity (IBI) for both fish and macroinvertebrate communities (Figure 9, Figure 11). These two waters appear to be excellent candidates for applying the proposed protection tier for tiered aquatic life uses (TALU). Tiered Aquatic Life Use is a methodology for differentiating aquatic health condition based on physical, hydrologic and anthropogenic variables. In Wisconsin the TALU approach differentiates a condition potential of “excellent”, “good”, “fair”, and “modified”. This study involves the following HUC12s: 040103010302, 040103010303, 040103010304.

During this TWA study (and in prior studies) fish surveys found high quality headwater forage fish communities present upstream of the falls. Downstream of the falls, fish surveys found high quality mainstem forage fish communities with a moderate presence of game fish. Fish surveys at Rock and Miller Creek mostly found good quality coldwater and cool transition headwater natural communities, with brook trout present.

Qualitative fish habitat ratings for seven sites in the watershed ranged from excellent to fair (Figure 10). The median habitat rating was good. High quality macroinvertebrate communities are present. Ten of the twelve macroinvertebrate IBI ratings were excellent and two were good, indicating the presence of good water quality and habitat. Hilsenhoff biotic index ratings ranged from good to excellent, indicating dissolved oxygen availability is not a problem at the sampled sites. Species richness values are high, ranging from 22 to 50 species per site.

Water quality was good at monitored sites (Table 9). Total phosphorus concentrations are lower than the WI stream standard of 75 ug/l. Measured dissolved oxygen concentrations were all above the WI stream standard of 5 mg/l. Total suspended solids concentrations were low at most sites but were high on two dates at the site near the stream mouth. That site is influenced by Lake Superior Clay Plain soils, which commonly have unstable stream banks.

Continuous temperature monitoring showed all Black River sites exceeded the mean daily cold water/cool water threshold (69.3oF) on numerous days in the summer (Figures 12-18). Five of the six Black River sites also exceeded the mean daily cool water/warm water threshold (76.3oF) on one or more summer days. The warmer temperatures observed support the classification of the Black River as a class III trout water, which has no natural reproduction or annual carryover of stocked fish.

Overall Recommendations

Efforts should be made to protect the high quality of the Black River Watershed’s water resources. Designation of the Black River as an Outstanding Resource Water should be explored. Other protection measures also need to be identified and explored.

Resources

Biological Communities and Water Quality
There is a history of trout and salmon stocking in the Black River, which is a class III trout stream. Class III trout streams are marginal trout habitat with no natural reproduction and no annual carryover of trout. Brown and brook trout were stocked upstream of the falls. Rainbow trout and chinook salmon were stocked downstream of the falls. Stocking was discontinued mostly due to under-utilization and poor returns. There is no substantial cool or warm water fishery present in the Black River. Rock Creek has a 2.4-mile segment of class I trout water, with brook trout present. Miller Creek has a 3-mile segment of class II trout water, also with brook trout present. Fish surveys found high quality headwater forage fish communities present upstream of the falls. Downstream of the falls, fish surveys found high quality mainstem forage fish communities with a moderate presence of game fish. Fish surveys at Rock and Miller Creek mostly found good quality coldwater and cool transition headwater natural communities, with brook trout present.

Qualitative fish habitat ratings for seven sites ranged from excellent to fair. The median habitat rating was good. High quality macroinvertebrate communities are present. Ten of the twelve macroinvertebrate IBI ratings were excellent and two were good, indicating the presence of good water quality and habitat. Hilsenhoff biotic index ratings ranged from good to excellent, indicating dissolved oxygen availability is not a problem at the sampled sites. Species richness values are high and range from 22 to 50 species per site.

Water quality was good at monitored sites. Total phosphorus concentrations are lower than the WI stream standard of 75 ug/l. Measured dissolved oxygen concentrations were all above the WI stream standard of 5 mg/l. Total suspended solids concentrations were low at most sites but were high on two dates at the site near the stream mouth. That site is influenced by Lake Superior Clay Plain soils, which commonly have unstable stream banks.

Continuous temperature monitoring showed all Black River sites exceeded the mean daily cold water/cool water threshold (69.3oF) on numerous days in the summer. Five of the six Black River sites also exceeded the mean daily cool water/warm water threshold (76.3oF) on one or more summer days. The warmer temperatures observed support the classification of the Black River as a class III trout water, which has no natural reproduction or annual carryover of stocked fish.

Location, Size, Land Use & Population
Undeveloped land uses (woodland and wetland) comprise 94% of the Black River watershed (Figures 3 & 4) and this generally reduces the potential for runoff and erosion. As the charts below show, wetlands as a percentage of land use decreases from upper subwatershed to lower, while forest increases slightly and remains stable at approximately 65% of the overall watershed. Overall, the Lower watershed HUC is unique in the presence of agriculture, grassland, and urban land uses as a measurable percentage.

Black and Upper Nemadji River (LS02)

Ecological Landcapes

A portion of the Black River Watershed is in the Northwest Lowlands ecoregion. This ecoregion has loamy soils with moderate runoff potential and abundant wetlands. Streams in this ecoregion tend to have low turbidity but are highly stained due to dissolved organic compounds provided by wetland drainage. The downstream end of the watershed is in the Superior Coastal Plain where developed land uses are more prevalent. Clay rich soils in the Plain have high runoff potential and streambank erosion is a major source of suspended sediment and turbidity to streams located there. Staining is masked by the turbidity but is still present.

Hydrology

Limited development in the upper watershed maintains the natural hydrology of the Black River System. Downstream areas have some development and related water quality impacts. However, in relative terms, the watershed water quality conditions are excellent.

Natural Communities

Fish communities indicate that Natural Community in the Little Black River and in the Black River sites upstream of Big Manitou Falls is a Warm Transition Headwater. The Natural Community at the Black River sites downstream of Big Manitou Falls is a Warm Transition Mainstem. For Miller Creek, the Natural Community at Polish Road is Coldwater, while the Natural Community upstream and downstream of CTH B is Cold Transition Headwater. For Rock Creek, the Natural Community at Manisky Road is Cold Transition Headwater, while the Natural Community at the railroad trestle is Warm Transition Headwater.

Soils & Wetlands

The clay-rich watershed soils toward the mouth of the river system results in flashy stream flows with very high flows during runoff events and very low baseflows.

Site Selection & Study Design

This TWA study involved collection of fish community, macroinvertebrate, water chemistry, water temperature, and qualitative habitat data at several sites in the Black River Watershed. For 2016, six monitoring sites were sampled at accessible locations along the length of the Black River, with one site located on the Little Black River (Figure 8). Fish community and macroinvertebrate monitoring data collected from several sites between 2003 and 2014 was also compiled and reviewed.

Monitoring stations from 2016 and previous years are listed and shown Table 2, Figure 8. Fish community, macroinvertebrate, and water quality monitoring data collected from three sites were also compiled and reviewed.

The 2016 monitoring included:
-Fish community surveys at seven sites. Water chemistry samples and a flow measurement were made at the time of each fish survey. Parameters measured were total phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate plus nitrite nitrogen, total suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and transparency.
-Qualitative habitat assessments at seven sites.
-Macroinvertebrate samples at seven sites.
-Six monthly May-October water chemistry samples collected near the mouth of the Black River and tested for total phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate plus nitrite nitrogen, total suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and transparency.
-Continuous temperature meters during the summer seven sites.

Methods & Procedures

Fish Assemblage and Natural Community
Fish surveys were conducted by electroshocking a section of stream with a station length of 35 times the mean stream width (100 m minimum and 400 m maximum station length) (Lyons, 1992). Two backpack shockers were used at all sites except the Little Black River, where a single backpack shocker was used. All fish were collected, identified, and counted. Surveys were conducted using the following methods:
**9** Wadeable Stream Fish Community Evaluation Form 3600-230 (R 7/00)
**9** Guidelines for Assessing Fish Communities of Wadeable Streams in Wisconsin

Fish Habitat Evaluation
At each site, qualitative fish habitat ratings were determined using the following methods:
**9** Qualitative Habitat Rating less that 10m Form (3600-532A) (R 6/07)
**9** Guidelines for Qualitative Physical Habitat Evaluation of Wadeable Streams

Macroinvertebrate Evaluation
Macroinvertebrate samples were obtained by kick sampling using a D-frame net. Six sites on the Black River and one site on the Little Black River were sampled. Samples were preserved and sent to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for analyses. Standard metrics were calculated for the macroinvertebrate communities found. Methods used were:
**9** Guidelines for Collecting Macroinvertebrate Samples in Wadeable Streams
**9** Wadeable Macroinvertebrate Field Data Report Form 3200-081 (R 08/14)

Water Sampling
Water samples were collected monthly during May to October at the monitoring site near the mouth of the Black River (site BR7, figure MON SITES). Samples were shipped on ice to the State Laboratory of Hygiene where they were analyzed for total phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate plus nitrite nitrogen, and total suspended solids. Field parameters measured were dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and transparency.

Water samples were also collected at the six other sites at the time the fish surveys were conducted. These samples were handled similarly to the monthly samples above and were tested for the same lab and field parameters. Streamflow was also measured at the time of the fish surveys. Methods used were:
**9** Guidelines and Procedures for Surface Water Grab Sampling (Dec. 2005 Version 3)
**9** 2301 open channel flow measurement
**9** Guidance for Dissolved Oxygen Meter Sampling

Continuous Temperature
Water temperature data loggers were deployed during the summer months at six Black River sites and one Little Black River site. The loggers recorded water temperature every ½ hour.
**9** Guidelines and Standard Procedures for Continuous Temperature Monitoring Wisconsin DNR May 2004 (Version 1)

Results

Fish Communities
Fish survey data from this TWA study is summarized in Tables 3 and 4. Fish species identified at each site are enumerated and the natural communities for these waters are verified. The verified natural communities based on the existing fish populations are also listed. Verified Natural Communities based on fish survey data differed in stream size or thermal regime from model-predicted Natural Communities for 8 of the 16 sites Tables 3 and 4.

Fish communities indicate that Natural Community in the Little Black River and in the Black River sites upstream of Big Manitou Falls is a Warm Transition Headwater. The Natural Community at the Black River sites downstream of Big Manitou Falls is a Warm Transition Mainstem. For Miller Creek, the Natural Community at Polish Road is Coldwater, while the Natural Community upstream and downstream of CTH B is Cold Transition Headwater. For Rock Creek, the Natural Community at Manisky Road is Cold Transition Headwater, while the Natural Community at the railroad trestle is Warm Transition Headwater.

Fish Condition
Fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) ratings, based on the verified natural community ranged from fair to excellent. Fish IBI ratings for the Little Black and Black River are excellent, with the exception of the Milchesky Road site on the Black River, where the IBI is good (Figure 9); however, fish IBI scores at the Milchesky Road site are only one point short of an excellent rating. Fish IBI ratings for Miller and Rock Creek are good, except for the Miller Creek site upstream of CTH B, which has an IBI rating of fair. This site was dominated by creek chubs, which are a tolerant species.
Fish Assemblage & Stocking
Brook trout were present in Little Black River in both 2003 and 2016. Brook trout were also present at all sites surveyed on Miller and Rock Creek. Brook trout were not found at any of the Black River sites. Three brown trout were found in the Black River at Foxboro-Chaffey Road in 2003, and one brown trout was found in the Black River at Milchesky Road in 2003. Brown trout had been stocked in the Black River that year. No brown trout were found at any of the Black River sites in 2016, when no stocking was being done.

Stocking of trout and salmon in the Black River occurred for many years in the past (Table 4). Brown trout and brook trout were stocked upstream of Little Manitou Falls (Toshner 2018). This stocking was discontinued due to under-utilization by anglers, and concerns about harm to native brook trout populations in headwater streams.

Rainbow trout and chinook salmon were stocked downstream of Big Manitou Falls (Piszczek 2018). Rainbows were expected to gradually move downstream into Lake Superior and mostly provide a fishery in far western Lake Superior. Stocked fingerling chinooks needed to spend a year growing in the river before moving downstream to Lake Superior. It was hoped that some of the rainbows and chinooks would run up the Black River in the fall. A 1985 fall creel survey estimated that only 0.14% of stocked fish were caught in the Black River by anglers.

Water temperatures are the primary limitation to managing cold water fish in the Black River. The lower 31 miles of the Black River is identified as a class III trout water which is marginal trout habitat with no natural reproduction occurring. There is no carryover of trout from one year to the next. Stocking is done on a �put-and-take� basis. Water temperature graphs for multiple sites on the Black River (see Continuous Temperature Data (Figures 12-18) section below) concur with the class III designation and show that mean daily temperatures exceed 72o F on multiple days during the summer. This is generally considered the maximum temperature that cold water fish can tolerate.

Interfalls Lake was last stocked in 1972 with largemouth bass. The only fish survey on record for the lake was done in May of 2009 when the lake was re-filling after a drawdown. Only small numbers of white suckers, common shiners, creek chubs, and black bullhead were found.

Qualitative Fish Habitat Ratings
Qualitative fish habitat ratings for six Black River sites and one Little Black River site are shown in Table 6. Three sites have excellent ratings, two sites have good ratings, and two sites have fair ratings. The Black River site at Milchesky Road had a fair rating. Rating points were lost mostly due to: a high riffle: riffle or bend: bend ratio since the station is mostly a continuous run (15 points lost), fine sediment (sand or silt) covering > 21% of the stream bed (10 points lost), and pool areas occupying < 29% of the station (7 points lost).

The Black River site 0.42 miles upstream of the mouth also had a fair rating. Rating points were lost mostly due to rocky substrate with hard substrates covering < 15% of stream bed (25 points lost), and bank stability with extensive bank erosion due to clay plain soils (12 points lost).

Macroinvertebrates
Macroinvertebrate sampling results are summarized in table BUGS. Results indicate very good water quality and habitat conditions. Ten of the twelve macroinvertebrate IBI ratings (Weigel 2003) are excellent and two are good. Hilsenhoff biotic index (HBI) (Hilsenhoff 1987) ratings range from good to excellent. HBI ratings are primarily influenced by dissolved oxygen (D.O.) availability and these ratings indicate D.O. availability is not a problem at these sites. Species richness values are high and range from 22 to 50 species per site.

Water Quality
Wisconsin�s stream total phosphorus concentration (TP) standard is 75 ug/l. The procedure for determining if a stream meets this standard requires the collection of six monthly TP samples and calculation of the 90% confidence interval of the mean of these samples (WDNR 2013; WisCALM). This data is listed in Table 8, and shows the upper 90% confidence limit for these samples is less than 75 ug/l (54 ug/l). This indicates the Black River is meeting the TP standard. TP samples collected at fish survey sites were all less than 75 ug/l (Table 9) and it seems likely that the entire Black River and Little Black River meets the TP standard.

Wisconsin�s stream dissolved oxygen concentration (D.O.) standard is 5.0 mg/l for cool water streams. Three days of continuous measurement during two summers is required for a full D.O. assessment. All D.O. measurements made at all sites exceeded 6.0 mg/l. It is unlikely that D.O.�s are a significant concern for the Black River and Little Black River. However, drainage from the extensive wetlands in the watershed might cause occasional D.O. reduction in some stream segments since wetland drainage can contain substantial amounts of oxygen demanding substances at times.

pH values ranged from 6.6 to 7.4 s.u.�s, and fell within the 6 to 9 s.u. range that is the Wisconsin stream standard. pH�s tend to increase from upstream to downstream (Table 9). This is probably due to greater influence of wetland drainage (which has low pH�s) in upstream areas, and greater inputs of groundwater (which has higher pH�s) in downstream areas.

Stream standards do not exist for the other water quality parameters measured. Values are generally unexceptional for streams in northwest Wisconsin. There are few substantial differences between sites. Total suspended solids concentrations (TSS�s) at times were substantially higher at the Black River site near the mouth than at upstream sites. Correspondingly, transparencies were substantially lower. This site is located in the Lake Superior Clay Plain (Figure 10). Bank erosion of clay rich soils tends to be the main source of higher TSS�s and lower transparencies in streams in this area. True color was measured on one date and was 250 Pt-Co units. This is considered very highly colored water.

Continuous Temperature Data
Graphs of mean daily temperatures during June � September of 2016 for seven sites are shown in Figures 12-18. Mean daily temperatures at all sites on the Black River exceeded the upper threshold for cold water fish (69.3oF) on 32 - 51 dates. Exceedances of the upper temperature threshold for cool water fish (76.3oF) occurred on two dates at all of the Black River sites, except for the Pattison Park canoe take-out site, which did not exceed that threshold. Mean daily temperatures at the Little Black River site were slightly cooler than the Black River sites. That site exceeded the coldwater threshold on 13 dates and did not exceed the upper Coolwater threshold.

Table 10 shows July and summer (June � August) stream temperature means and the thermal categories that apply to those means (Lyons 2008). Means for all sites are in the warm transition or warm water categories. The Little Black River had the coolest mean temperatures. That was the only site that had brook trout present in 2016. These mean temperatures and the range of mean daily temperatures found support the classification of the Black River as a class III trout water and help explain the general lack of success of past trout and salmon stocking.

Study Discussion

Fish Communities
Fish survey data from this TWA study is summarized in Tables 3 and 4. Fish species identified at each site are enumerated and the natural communities for these waters are verified. The verified natural communities based on the existing fish populations are also listed. Verified Natural Communities based on fish survey data differed in stream size or thermal regime from model-predicted Natural Communities for 8 of the 16 sites Tables 3 and 4.

Fish communities indicate that Natural Community in the Little Black River and in the Black River sites upstream of Big Manitou Falls is a Warm Transition Headwater. The Natural Community at the Black River sites downstream of Big Manitou Falls is a Warm Transition Mainstem.

For Miller Creek, the Natural Community at Polish Road is Coldwater, while the Natural Community upstream and downstream of CTH B is Cold Transition Headwater.
For Rock Creek, the Natural Community at Manisky Road is Cold Transition Headwater, while the Natural Community at the railroad trestle is Warm Transition Headwater.

Fish Condition
Fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) ratings, based on the verified natural community ranged from fair to excellent. Fish IBI ratings for the Little Black and Black River are excellent, with the exception of the Milchesky Road site on the Black River, where the IBI is good (Figure 9); however, fish IBI scores at the Milchesky Road site are only one point short of an excellent rating. Fish IBI ratings for Miller and Rock Creek are good, except for the Miller Creek site upstream of CTH B, which has an IBI rating of fair. This site was dominated by creek chubs, which are a tolerant species.
Fish Assemblage & Stocking
Brook trout were present in Little Black River in both 2003 and 2016. Brook trout were also present at all sites surveyed on Miller and Rock Creek. Brook trout were not found at any of the Black River sites. Three brown trout were found in the Black River at Foxboro-Chaffey Road in 2003, and one brown trout was found in the Black River at Milchesky Road in 2003. Brown trout had been stocked in the Black River that year. No brown trout were found at any of the Black River sites in 2016, when no stocking was being done.

Stocking of trout and salmon in the Black River occurred for many years in the past (Table 4). Brown trout and brook trout were stocked upstream of Little Manitou Falls (Toshner 2018). This stocking was discontinued due to under-utilization by anglers, and concerns about harm to native brook trout populations in headwater streams.

Rainbow trout and chinook salmon were stocked downstream of Big Manitou Falls (Piszczek 2018). Rainbows were expected to gradually move downstream into Lake Superior and mostly provide a fishery in far western Lake Superior. Stocked fingerling chinooks needed to spend a year growing in the river before moving downstream to Lake Superior. It was hoped that some of the rainbows and chinooks would run up the Black River in the fall. A 1985 fall creel survey estimated that only 0.14% of stocked fish were caught in the Black River by anglers.

Water temperatures are the primary limitation to managing cold water fish in the Black River. The lower 31 miles of the Black River is identified as a class III trout water which is marginal trout habitat with no natural reproduction occurring. There is no carryover of trout from one year to the next. Stocking is done on a put-and-take basis. Water temperature graphs for multiple sites on the Black River (see Continuous Temperature Data (Figures 12-18) section below) concur with the class III designation and show that mean daily temperatures exceed 72o F on multiple days during the summer. This is generally considered the maximum temperature that cold water fish can tolerate.

Interfalls Lake was last stocked in 1972 with largemouth bass. The only fish survey on record for the lake was done in May of 2009 when the lake was re-filling after a drawdown. Only small numbers of white suckers, common shiners, creek chubs, and black bullhead were found.

Qualitative Fish Habitat Ratings
Qualitative fish habitat ratings for six Black River sites and one Little Black River site are shown in Table 6. Three sites have excellent ratings, two sites have good ratings, and two sites have fair ratings. The Black River site at Milchesky Road had a fair rating. Rating points were lost mostly due to: a high riffle: riffle or bend: bend ratio since the station is mostly a continuous run (15 points lost), fine sediment (sand or silt) covering > 21% of the stream bed (10 points lost), and pool areas occupying < 29% of the station (7 points lost).

The Black River site 0.42 miles upstream of the mouth also had a fair rating. Rating points were lost mostly due to rocky substrate with hard substrates covering < 15% of stream bed (25 points lost), and bank stability with extensive bank erosion due to clay plain soils (12 points lost).

Macroinvertebrates
Macroinvertebrate sampling results are summarized in table BUGS. Results indicate very good water quality and habitat conditions. Ten of the twelve macroinvertebrate IBI ratings (Weigel 2003) are excellent and two are good. Hilsenhoff biotic index (HBI) (Hilsenhoff 1987) ratings range from good to excellent. HBI ratings are primarily influenced by dissolved oxygen (D.O.) availability and these ratings indicate D.O. availability is not a problem at these sites. Species richness values are high and range from 22 to 50 species per site.

Water Quality
Wisconsin stream total phosphorus concentration (TP) standard is 75 ug/l. The procedure for determining if a stream meets this standard requires the collection of six monthly TP samples and calculation of the 90% confidence interval of the mean of these samples (WDNR 2013; WisCALM). This data is listed in Table 8, and shows the upper 90% confidence limit for these samples is less than 75 ug/l (54 ug/l). This indicates the Black River is meeting the TP standard. TP samples collected at fish survey sites were all less than 75 ug/l (Table 9) and it seems likely that the entire Black River and Little Black River meets the TP standard.

Wisconsin�s stream dissolved oxygen concentration (D.O.) standard is 5.0 mg/l for cool water streams. Three days of continuous measurement during two summers is required for a full D.O. assessment. All D.O. measurements made at all sites exceeded 6.0 mg/l. It is unlikely that D.O.�s are a significant concern for the Black River and Little Black River. However, drainage from the extensive wetlands in the watershed might cause occasional D.O. reduction in some stream segments since wetland drainage can contain substantial amounts of oxygen demanding substances at times.

pH values ranged from 6.6 to 7.4 s.u.�s, and fell within the 6 to 9 s.u. range that is the Wisconsin stream standard. pH�s tend to increase from upstream to downstream (Table 9). This is probably due to greater influence of wetland drainage (which has low pH�s) in upstream areas, and greater inputs of groundwater (which has higher pH�s) in downstream areas.

Stream standards do not exist for the other water quality parameters measured. Values are generally unexceptional for streams in northwest Wisconsin. There are few substantial differences between sites. Total suspended solids concentrations (TSS�s) at times were substantially higher at the Black River site near the mouth than at upstream sites. Correspondingly, transparencies were substantially lower. This site is located in the Lake Superior Clay Plain (Figure 10). Bank erosion of clay rich soils tends to be the main source of higher TSS�s and lower transparencies in streams in this area. True color was measured on one date and was 250 Pt-Co units. This is considered very highly colored water.

Continuous Temperature Data
Graphs of mean daily temperatures during June � September of 2016 for seven sites are shown in Figures 12-18. Mean daily temperatures at all sites on the Black River exceeded the upper threshold for cold water fish (69.3oF) on 32 - 51 dates. Exceedances of the upper temperature threshold for cool water fish (76.3oF) occurred on two dates at all of the Black River sites, except for the Pattison Park canoe take-out site, which did not exceed that threshold. Mean daily temperatures at the Little Black River site were slightly cooler than the Black River sites. That site exceeded the coldwater threshold on 13 dates and did not exceed the upper Coolwater threshold.

Table 10 shows July and summer (June � August) stream temperature means and the thermal categories that apply to those means (Lyons 2008). Means for all sites are in the warm transition or warm water categories. The Little Black River had the coolest mean temperatures. That was the only site that had brook trout present in 2016. These mean temperatures and the range of mean daily temperatures found support the classification of the Black River as a class III trout water and help explain the general lack of success of past trout and salmon stocking.

Management Recommendations

Waters in the Black River watershed generally have very good water quality. Fish and macroinvertebrate communities are also of high quality. The watershed is 94% undeveloped and most stream corridors are scenic. Big and Little Manitou Falls add greatly to the scenic beauty. The two falls and Interfalls Lake lie within Pattison State Park, which also has a campground, swimming beach, scenic falls overlooks, and hiking trails. There is a canoe trail between a launch at STH 35 and a take-out just upstream of Little Manitou Falls. Protection efforts to maintain the quality of these resources should be made.

-Classification of the Black River as an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW) or Exceptional Resource Water (ERW) should be pursued. The DNR is currently in the process of updating the protocols for classifying waters as ORW or ERW, so evaluation of the Black River will have to wait until this process is completed. Past ORW/ERW classification protocols have placed substantial emphasis on the presence of a high-quality sport fishery. If the new protocols also have such an emphasis, it may be difficult for the Black River to be rated high enough for ORW/ERW classification.

-The Black River should be considered as a high priority for the state Healthy Waters initiative, which is a new and evolving program as of 2019.

Monitoring Recommendations

DNR should continue monitoring and assessing watershed streams using the new Tiered Aquatic Life Use (TALU) thresholds and procedures that coincide with the state’s recently updated Water Quality Standards.

Partner Recommendations

The DNR should work with The Douglas County Land and Water Conservation Department to identify options for further protecting watershed streams.
The DNR should encourage Douglas County to continue to apply for grants to fund information and education work and / or Healthy Waters grants to promote protection of The Black River Watershed.

Monitoring and Planning

This Water Quality Management Plan was created under the state’s Water Resources Planning and Monitoring Programs. The plan reflects water quality program priorities and Water Resources Monitoring Strategy 2015-2020 and fulfills Wisconsin’s Areawide Water Quality Management Plan requirements under Section 208 of the Clean Water Act. Condition information and resource management recommendations support and guide program priorities for the planning area.

This WQM Plan is approved by the Wisconsin DNR and is a formal update to Lake Superior Basin Areawide Water Quality Management Plan and Wisconsin’s statewide Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (AWQM Plan). This plan will be forwarded to USEPA for certification as a formal update to Wisconsin’s AWQM Plan.

Contributors

Craig Roesler, Primary Author and Investigator, North District, Wisconsin DNR
Lisa Kosmond Helmuth, Contributing Author & Program Coordinator, Water Quality Bureau, Wisconsin DNR

Partners

Douglas County Land and Water Conservation Department

Water Details

Black River, 2836900
The 20-mile upper reach from just north of its headwaters in Black Lake on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border down to Interfalls Lake in Pattison State Park is classified as a Class III trout stream with numerous brook trout and a brown trout presence. The upper reaches of the river flow through relatively flat plain of clay and glacial stream deposits with numerous wetlands that stain the river dark before it passes over Little Manitou Falls, a 30-foot escarpment to Interfalls Lake. Downstream of the lake, the river plunges over the Superior Escarpment at Big Manitou Falls. At 165 feet, this is the highest waterfall in the state and ends the trout portion of the river. Downstream of the falls, a few game fish are found as the river continues until it empties into the Nemadji. Burbot run up the river in winter to spawn. Stream bottom types range from sand and muck in the upper reaches, gravel and boulders in the middle reaches and silt and clay below the falls.

Pattison State Park discharges treated wastewater from an outfall at T47N R14W S21 NESE, which then flows to the Black River. This tributary has been proposed for classification as supporting limited aquatic life, to be listed in the update of NR104.

During survey work conducted as part of the coastal wetlands evaluation, two rare species of macroinvertebrate were found in the river and the overall taxa richness was high (25 or more species). The survey identified impoundment and low flows as factors potentially affecting water quality. Significant filamentous algae, and to a lesser extent slime and aquatic plants were present. (Epstein 1997).

Little Black River, 2839900
This stream has sluggish origins in a willow and tag alder swamp. Downstream the gradient increases. Historically, brook and brown trout were stocked in the stream. In recent years it has been managed as a warm water forage fishery. This stream is tributary to the Black River.

During survey work conducted as part of the coastal wetlands evaluation, one rare species of macroinvertebrate was found in the river and the overall taxa richness was moderate (5 to 24 species) (Epstein 1997). The survey noted the water was turbid and the presence of point source pollution, pollution from septic systems and streambank erosion. At the survey site, the streambed was composed primarily of gravel, sand and rock

Miller Creek, 2837000
Miller Creek is a 3.52-mile cold transition headwater last monitored in 2015 and found to be in good condition. The stream is designated as a Class II trout stream. Three monitoring stations are located on the stream. Results from a 2007 macroinvertebrate study indicated “good” conditions, and a 2015 fish survey included brook trout, cheek chub, johnny darter, redside dance, slimy sculpin, and white sucker; 45% of species found in that survey were intolerant to pollution.

Rock Creek, 2837300
This small, clear-water stream with a steep gradient of 124 feet-per-mile drops from the Superior escarpment to join the Black River about two miles below Big Manitou Falls. From the town road crossing in the middle of Section 20 (T47 R14W) to the headwaters, this stream supports a reproducing brook trout population and the waterbody has been designated an exceptional resource water. Downstream from the town road to the mouth, the stream is considered a Class III trout fishery. In addition to brook trout, historic assessments have shown sculpin, creek chub and longnose dace to be present in the creek. The stream is subject to seasonal flow extremes that can cause damage. The streambed is primarily sand gravel, clay and boulders in its headwaters area, becoming mostly sand and gravel in the lower stretches.

Black Lake, 2841200
Black Lake, in the Black and Upper Nemadji River Watershed, is a 82.10 acre lake that falls in Douglas County. This lake is managed for fishing and swimming and based on monitoring conducted in 2012, the lake water quality is considered Excellent.

References

Becker, George C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press. 1051 pp.

Hilsenhoff, William L. 1987. An Improved Biotic Index of Organic Stream Pollution. The Great Lakes Entomologist. 20: 31-39.

Lyons, John. 1992. Using the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) to Measure Environmental Quality in Warmwater Streams of Wisconsin. United States Department of Agriculture. General Technical Report NC-149.

Lyons, John. 2006. A Fish-based Index of Biotic Integrity to Assess Intermittent Headwater Streams in Wisconsin, USA. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 122: 239-258.

Lyons, John. 2008. Using the Wisconsin Stream Model to Estimate the Potential Natural Community of Wisconsin Streams (DRAFT). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fish and Aquatic Life Research Section. November 2008.

Lyons, John. 2008. Revised Stream Thermal Classification Thresholds. Wisconsin DNR Fish Researcher. Guidance in 02/21/2008 e-mail.

Lyons, John. L. Wang and T. Simonson. 1996. Development and Validation of an Index of Biotic Integrity for Coldwater Streams in Wisconsin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 16:2, 241-256.

Lyons, John. 2012. Development and Validation of Two Fish-based Indices of Biotic Integrity for Assessing Perennial Coolwater Streams in Wisconsin, USA. Ecological Indicators 23 (2012) 402-412.

Lyons, John. 2013. Methodology for Using Field Data to Identify and Correct Wisconsin Stream “Natural Community” Misclassifications. Version 4. May 16, 2013. IN DRAFT.

Lyons, John. T. Zorn, J. Stewart, P Seelbach, K Wehrly, and L. Wang. 2009. Defining and Characterizing Coolwater Streams and Their Fish Assemblages in Michigan and Wisconsin, USA. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 29:1130-1151.

Piszczek, Paul. 2018. Personal communication. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fish management specialist, Superior, WI.

Pratt, Dennis. 1996. WI DNR Fish Management Specialist, Superior, WI. Memo (May 24, 1996) with Comments on Draft Lake Superior Water Quality Management Plan, 1996.

Roesler, C.P. 2018. Saint Louis River Estuary Clay-influenced Bay Assessment. WDNR Water Quality Biologist, Spooner, WI. SWIMS EGAD No. 3200-2018-49.

Simonson, Timothy D., J. Lyons, and P.D. Kanehl. 1994. Guidelines for Evaluating Fish Habitat in Wisconsin Streams. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Forest Service. General Technical Report NC-164.

Toshner, Scott. 2018. Personal communication. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fish management specialist, Brule, WI.

Weigel, Brian. 2003. Development of Stream Macroinvertebrate Models That Predict Watershed and Local Stressors in Wisconsin. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 22(1): 123-142.

WDNR. 2000. Guidelines for Collecting Macroinvertebrate Samples from Wadable Streams. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Bureau of Fisheries Management and Habitat Protection Monitoring and Data Assessment Section.

WDNR. 2001. Guidelines for Assessing Fish Communities of Wadable Streams in Wisconsin.

WDNR. 2007. Guidelines for Qualitative Physical Habitat Evaluation of Wadeable Streams. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Bureau of Fisheries Management Monitoring and Data Analysis Section; modified from Simonson et al. 1994. Guidelines for Evaluating Fish Habitat in Wisconsin Streams. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Forest Service. General Technical Report NC-164.

WDNR. 2013. Wisconsin 2014 Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). Clean Water Act Section 305(b), 314, and 303(d) Integrated Reporting. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Bureau of Water Quality Program Guidance. September 2013.

WDNR. 2018. Wisconsin 2018 Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). Clean Water Act Section 305(b), 314, and 303(d) Integrated Reporting. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Bureau of Water Quality Program Guidance. September 2017 (2018).

Abbreviations

AEL: Aquatic Entomology Laboratory at UW Stevens Point: the primary laboratory for analysis of macroinvertebrate taxonomy in the State of Wisconsin.

BMP: Best Management Practice. A land management practice used to prevent or reduce nonpoint source pollution such as runoff, total suspended solids, or excess nutrients.

DATCP: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection the state agency in partnership with DNR responsible for a variety of land and water related programs.

DNR: Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is an agency of the State of Wisconsin created to preserve, protect, manage, and support natural resources.

END: Endangered Species - Wisconsin species designated as rare or unique due to proximity to the farthest extent of their natural range or due to anthropogenic deleterious impacts on the landscape or both.

ERW: Exceptional Resource Water- Wisconsin?s designation under state water quality standards to waters with exceptional quality and which may be provided a higher level of protection through various programs and processes.

FMDB: Fisheries Management Database ? or Fish Database ? the state?s repository for fish taxonomy and auto-calculated metrics involving fish assemblage condition and related.

FIBI: Fish Index of biological integrity (Fish IBI). An Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a scientific tool used to gauge water condition based on biological data. Results indicate condition and provide insight into potential degradation sources. In Wisconsin, specific fish IBI tools are developed for specific natural communities. Therefore, biologists must review and confirm the natural community to use the correct fish IBI tool.

HUC: Hydrologic Unit Code. A sequence of numbers that represent one of a series of nested hydrologic catchments delineated by a consortium of agencies including USGS, USFS, and Wisconsin DNR.

MIBI: Macroinvertebrate Index of biological integrity. The mIBI is the primary tool used to assess stream macroinvertebrate community condition. NC: Natural Community. A system of categorizing water based on inherent physical, hydrologic, and biological components. Streams and Lakes have uniquely derived systems that result in specific natural community designations for each lake and river segment in the state.

These designations dictate the appropriate assessment tools which improves the condition result, reflecting detailed nuances reflecting the modeling and analysis work foundational to the assessment systems.

Monitoring Seq. No. Monitoring sequence number refers to a unique identification code generated by the Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS), which holds much of the state?s water quality monitoring data except for fisheries taxonomy and habitat data.

MDM: Maximum Daily Averages ? maximum daily average is a calculated metric that may be used for temperature, dissolved oxygen and related chemistry parameters to characterize water condition.

NC: Natural Community. A system of categorizing water based on inherent physical, hydrologic, and biological components. Streams and Lakes have uniquely derived systems that result in specific natural community designations for each lake and river segment in the state. These designations dictate the appropriate assessment tools which improves the condition result, reflecting detailed nuances reflecting the modeling and analysis work foundational to the assessment systems.

mg/L: milligrams per liter - a volumetric measure typically used in chemistry analysis characterizations.

NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ? a federal agency responsible for water / aquatic related activities involve the open waters, seas and Great Lakes.

ND: No detection ? a term used typically in analytical settings to identify when a parameter or chemical constituent was not present at levels higher than the limit of detection.

NRCS: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - the federal agency providing local support and land management outreach work with landowners and partners such as state agencies.
ORW: Outstanding Resource WaterWisconsin’s designation under state water quality standards to waters with outstanding quality and which may be provided a higher level of protection through various programs and processes.

SC: Species of Special Concern- species designated as special concern due to proximity to the farthest extent of their natural range or due to anthropogenic deleterious impacts on the landscape, or both.

SWIMS ID. Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) identification number is the unique monitoring station identification number for the location of monitoring data.

TDP: Total Dissolved Phosphorus an analyzed chemistry parameter collected in aquatic systems positively correlated with excess productivity and eutrophication in Wisconsin waters.

TMDL: Total Maximum Daily Load a technical report required for impaired waters Clean Water Act. TMDLs identify sources, sinks and impairments associated with the pollutant causing documented impairments.

TP: Total Phosphorus - an analyzed chemical parameter collected in aquatic systems frequently positively correlated with excess productivity and eutrophication in many of Wisconsin’s waters.

TWA: Targeted Watershed Assessment. A monitoring study design centered on catchments or watersheds that uses a blend of geometric study design and targeted site selection to gather baseline data and additional collection work for unique and site-specific concerns for complex environmental questions including effectiveness monitoring of management actions, evaluation surveys for site specific criteria or permits, protection projects, and generalized watershed planning studies.

TSS: Total suspended solids an analyzed physical parameter collected in aquatic systems that is frequently positively correlated with excess productivity, reduced water clarity, reduced dissolved oxygen and degraded biological communities.

WATERS ID. The Waterbody Assessment, Tracking, and Electronic Reporting System Identification Code. The WATERS ID is a unique numerical sequence number assigned by the WATERS system, also known as Assessment Unit ID code. This code is used to identify unique stream segments or lakes assessed and stored in the WATERS system.

WBIC: Water Body Identification Code. WDNR’s unique identification codes assigned to water features in the state. The lines and information allow the user to execute spatial and tabular queries about the data, make maps, and perform flow analysis and network traces.

WSLH: Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene the state’s certified laboratory that provides a wide range of analytical services including toxicology, chemistry, and data sharing.

WQC: Water quality criteria a component of Wisconsin’s water quality standards that provide numerical endpoints for specific chemical, physical, and biological constituents.