Fish and Aquatic Life
Big Spring Branch rises in western Iowa County and flows west to the Blue River. It is a Class II trout stream and an exceptional resource water, (ERW), with some natural reproduction of brook and brown trout. Due to monitoring conducted in 2000, it is recommended that the branch be upgraded to a Class I trout fishery. Overall, Big Spring Branch has very good water quality.
The upper reaches of the stream flow through a fairly narrow valley with wooded hillsides. Some cattle grazing occurs in the upper reaches. Grazing increases further downstream, resulting in some bank erosion. A major problem with the stream may be the over-fishing of trout. Big Spring Branch has been ranked as a high priority for nonpoint source pollution reduction and receives discharge from the Village of Highland wastewater treatment plant.
The state has easements along Big Spring Branch. A group of citizen monitors are conducting monitoring on this creek. To see data, visit their website at http://members.tripod.com/nohrchapter/monitor_home.htm.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Big Spring Branch rises in western Iowa County and flows west to the Blue River. It is a
Class II trout stream (WDNR, 1980) and has been nominated for addition to the state's
list of surface waters under antidegradation protection as exceptional resource waters
(ERW). Big Spring Branch has very good water quality (Schlesser, 1991-1992). The
upper reaches of the stream flow through a fairly narrow valley with wooded hillsides.
Some cattle grazing occurs in the upper reaches (Schlesser 1990). Grazing increases
further downstream, resulting in some bank erosion (WDNR, 1991). A major problem
with the stream may be over-fishing of trout (Schlesser. 1991-1992).
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
From: Smith, Tom D., and Ball, Joseph R., Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Grant County, Department of Natural Resources, 1972. Surface Area = 1.82 acres, Length = 3.0 miles, Gradient = 20 ft./mile, Flow = 3.5 c.f.s.
A spring-fed stream that begins two miles north of Highland in Iowa County. It flows northwest entering Grant County in its upper reaches and then empties into Sixmile Creek in the northeastern part of the county. The drainage basin is narrow and steep, consequently bank erosion and channel scouring is common. This stream has excellent water quality and good aquatic food production. All three species of trout have been stocked by the Department of Natural Resources. At the present time an excellent population of brown trout inhabits the stream. The forage fish that are found in the stream are valuable food items to the large brown trout present. Coarse substrate and rapid runoff are factors that probably suppress natural reproduction. A water control structure scheduled to be built on its upper reaches in Iowa County should lessen these erosion problems.
This stream receives moderate to heavy fishing pressure during the early part of the season. Aquatic game assets are limited to a few muskrats. Deer, squirrels, raccoon, red fox, ruffed grouse, and quail inhabit the surrounding hill country. The village of Highland and the Cudahy Cheese Factory, both located in Iowa County, are potential pollution sources. The stream is easily accessible from one bridge crossing and from a town
road paralleling the stream. Three dwellings adjoin the stream.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Big Spring Branch - Location of mouth T7N, R1E Section 18 -8, Surface area = 3.5 acres, Length = 2.4 miles, Gradient = 25.0 feet per mile, Total alkalinity = 222.0 mg/l, Volume of flow = 0.9 cfs.
This stream receives its name from a big spring that forms its beginning. Although there are other spring sources in Iowa County, the aquatic environment favorable to trout production is primarily in Grant County. However, the Iowa County portion has a forage fish population consisting of sculpins, creek chubs, brook sticklebacks, blacknose dace and stoneroller minnows. Its gradient is well below the average for the county but flooding and heavy erosion of its banks are common during the spring runoff and after heavy storms. Public access is limited in the county to one town road crossing near its headwaters.
From: Piening, Ronald and Threinen, C.W. 1968. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Iowa County. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available. Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.
Restore Riparian Habitat
The Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter of Trout Unlimited will conduct phase 2 of a restoration project on Big Spring Creek/Branch, Grant County. This cold-water stream habitat restoration project presents opportunities for a diverse and dynamic protection and management program. Specific objectives & deliverables include: 1) the re-creation of overhead cover in the stream with structures that scour holes and add sinuosity to the stream; 2) installation of integrated stream bank stabilization, shaping back steep banks; and 3) utilizing & installing habitat techniques for non-game species, reptiles, amphibians, and plant communities.
Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable
Management goals can include creation or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.
Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.
Grants and Management Projects
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10053936||Big Spring Br upstream of spring inflow||7/13/2020||8/14/2020||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10022466||Big Springs Branch Station 2 At 500m Downstream Of Corner Of Pine Tree And Big Springs Rd (Swnw1307n01w)||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10037300||Big Spring Branch -- Bridge on Big Spring Rd||12/11/2019||12/11/2019||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10051652||Highland Big Spring||4/30/2015||4/11/2022||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10031540||Big Spring abv confluence of Six Mile||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||223111||Big Spring Branch - Pine Tree Rd.||4/21/1980||10/20/1980||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10037299||Big Spring Branch -- Junction of Pine Tree Rd and Big Spring Rd.||9/30/2014||5/17/2021||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10048776||Big Spring Branch - 1030ft US big springs road bridge||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10022467||Big Springs Branch Station 3 At 200m Downstream Of Corner Of Pine Tree And Big Springs Rd (Senw1307n01w)||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10016793||Big Spring - Start Of Habitat Station #2||10/31/2001||10/31/2001||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10022465||Big Spring Branch Station 1 At 1200m Downstream Of Corner Of Pine Tree And Big Springs Rd (Nene1407n01w)||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10053937||Big Spring Br downstream of spring inflow||7/13/2020||8/14/2020||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10016791||Big Spring - 2 M Upstream Start Of Station #3||11/3/2000||11/3/2000||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10048774||Big Spring Branch - 1130ft US confluence with Sixmile||Map||Data|
|1212900||Big Spring Br||10007881||Big Spring Branch Station 1||11/3/2000||10/31/2001||Map||Data|
Big Spring Br is located in the Blue River watershed which is 216.19 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.60%), grassland (29.40%) and a mix of agricultural (20.80%) and other uses (8.20%). This watershed has 513.46 stream miles, 416.83 lake acres and 5,825.06 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.