Fish and Aquatic Life
The Little La Crosse River, also known as Leon Creek, is a large, spring-fed stream located in southwestern Monroe County. It flows in a northwesterly direction for nearly 18 miles before reaching the La Crosse River between Rockland and Sparta. The Little La Crosse River has a gradient of 21 feet per mile and drains steep forested hillsides and valley agricultural land. The Little La Crosse River is a Class II trout stream for its entire length.
The Village of Cashton discharges their treated wastewater to the extreme upper end of the Little La Crosse River. The discharge actually does not reach the perennially flowing portion of the river during normal conditions. The discharge only reaches the Little La Crosse River if enough runoff fills the channel to carry the flow down to the perennially flowing portion of the river.
The most recent survey, completed in 1999, documented cool, clear water with a stream bottom consisting mainly of sand with some gravel, silt, rubble, clay, boulder and detritus. Riparian land use was woodland, meadow, pasture, shrub and cropland. In-stream cover consisted of woody debris, overhanging vegetation, undercut banks, submerged vegetation and LUNKER structures. Both brook trout and brown trout were captured as well as a variety of forage fish species.
The 1999 survey report recommended land acquisition from willing landowners, habitat restoration, a change in stocking from domestic to wild brown trout fingerlings, encouragement of local Rod and Gun Clubs to raise wild brown trout, and to re-survey the stream in five years. The Little La Crosse River has been stocked with brown trout since 1960. Brook and rainbow trout have also been stocked sporadically. Access is possible from many road crossings, the DNR Espe Pond Fishing Area along STH 27, DNR owned land along the La Crosse River Bike Trail near the mouth of the river, and DNR owned easements.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Little La Crosse River (1655900) from its mouth to Cannon Valley Creek (1656100) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
Author Aaron Larson
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.
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|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10014399||Little La Crosse River 1953 - Old Dam In Village Of Leon||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10009012||Little La Crosse River Station 2 - 50ft Upstream Icebox Road||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10014400||Little La Crosse River Station 3 - Jancing Ave. Bridge Crossing||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||423220||Little La Crosse River - Near Leon WI||5/22/2002||10/19/2002||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10009018||Little La Crosse River Station 3 - Bridge Jackpot Road||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10014455||Little La Crosse River Station 1 - Mouth Upstream||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||423068||Little La Crosse River at Icebox Rd (Previously Named 7th Ave)||5/13/1979||10/24/2022||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||423023||Little La Crosse River at Sth 27 Bl Leon||10/23/1986||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10009006||Little La Crosse River Station 2 - Bridge Ice Box Rd||Map||Data|
|1655900||Little La Crosse River||10014402||Little La Crosse River Station 4 - Farm Rd. Bridge Crossing||Map||Data|
Little La Crosse River is located in the Little La Crosse River watershed which is 240.79 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (48%), agricultural (25.70%) and a mix of grassland (15.60%) and other uses (10.80%). This watershed has 445.88 stream miles, 114.59 lake acres and 5,439.88 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. 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.