Hardies Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01)
Hardies Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01)
Hardies Creek (1686900)
1.90 Miles
1.64 - 3.54
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin Natural Communities.
Cool-Cold Headwater, Coldwater
Year Last Monitored
This is the most recent date of monitoring data stored in SWIMS. Additional surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
This river is impaired
Degraded Habitat
Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Restricted Aquatic Life
Fish and Aquatic Life communities are not fully supported in this ecosystem.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Supported Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.


Hardies Creek, a five mile tributary to the Black River, originates in southern Trempealeau County. A portion of this stream is Class III trout. Brook trout, forage fish, white sucker, and burbot have been documented in Hardies Creek. Streambank erosion due to livestock grazing and cropland erosion contribute to the sediment load of the stream. In-stream habitat ratings improved at two sites sampled after implementation of the priority watershed project (Ball and Kroner). A post implementation fishery survey documented two year classes of brook trout, which indicates the occurrence of natural reproduction (WDNR, 1988).

From: Koperksi, Cindy. 1999. Black River Water Quality Management Plan (draft). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

Hardies Creek is approximately five-miles long, located in the southeast portion of Trempealeau County in western Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) placed the lower 3.541 miles of Hardies Creek on the state’s 303(d) impaired waters list in 1998 as low priority due to degraded habitat caused by excessive sedimentation. The Clean Water Act and US EPA regulations require that each state develop TMDLs for waters on the Section 303(d) list. The purpose of this TMDL is to identify load allocations and management actions that will help restore the biological integrity of Hardies Creek.

Hardies Creek flows southeast into the Black River, south of North Bend, Wisconsin. It has a moderate gradient, draining 11.7 square miles. The headwaters, upstream segment (1.37 miles) of Hardies Creek is currently meeting the designated use of Class III trout stream. The lower 3.54 miles of Hardies Creek (Segments 1 and 2) are currently listed as warm water forage fishery with potential to meet a Class II or Class III trout stream.

Land use in the watershed is dominated by upland forest with steep wooded hills and some lowland pasture and agricultural cropland. Habitat surveys from the 1950s and 1960s indicate fair habitat for brook trout with no references to excessive bank erosion or sedimentation. The following was recorded in a Reconnaissance Survey from the Wisconsin Conservation Department, July 7, 1950:

'This is a brook trout stream suited to fingerling stocking, or yearlings may
be stocked if fishing pressure warrants. There are 2 ½ miles of trout water
having an average width of 3 feet. Pools are generally absent in this stream, but overhanging bank cover of alder, willow, and grasses, undercut banks and aquatic vegetation provides amply shelter for brook trout. The bank cover is mostly fair except for the upper reaches where it is generally poor. As the stream passes through pasture lands the water flows at a moderate rate over a bottom consisting of mainly sand with some gravel.'

In the 1980s, the upper portions of Hardies Creek still provided fair in-stream habitat although some impacts of agricultural impacts were observed. Fish assemblages in the headwaters indicated stable coldwater temperatures sufficient to support a stocked brook trout population with some limited reproduction. However, the lower portion of Hardies Creek was clearly impacted by agricultural practices. At station2, field notes remarked:

'This section was grazed heavily and the banks of the creek were all trampled down. This section was very wide and shallow and only 1 fish was encountered. When asking permission to shock, the landowner thought we were there to complain about his barnyard. His barnyard appears to have several fences that aren’t working properly, this allows cattle free access to the creek. I report seeing cow feces right in the creek. Only one longnose dace was captured.' (August 25, 1988, DNR Stream Survey Station Report)

Poor agricultural practices and cattle access to the creek directly affect the biological community and prevent the creek from obtaining its designated use as a coldwater stream. Historical deposits of sediment impact Hardies Creek through stream bank erosion and degraded habitat. The fish community is depressed with low numbers and low diversity. Many of the fish surveys did not collect the prerequisite 25 fish to calculate a valid IBI (although included in Appendix C, these IBIs are flagged as invalid). The coldwater fish species present in Hardies Creek like brook trout, American lamprey and burbot, are consistent with monitored continuous water temperature data indicating the potential to be a cold water trout stream with improvement of habitat by stabilization of the streambanks.

Date  2008

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Hardies Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01) Fish and Aquatic LifeHardies Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01) RecreationHardies Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01) Fish Consumption


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.



TMDL (USEPA) Approved
USEPA has approved the TMDL for Hardies Creek TMDL project. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) developed a sediment TMDL for Hardies Creek. By implementing measures to reduce the sediment loading, the TMDL will also address the degraded habitat impairment in the creek.
TMDL Implementation
TMDL implementation for Hardies Creek in Trempealeau County, WI. By implementing measures to reduce the sediment loading, the TMDL will also address the degraded habitat impairment in the creek. Implantation plan is needed.
TMDL Development
TMDL development for Hardies Creek in Trempealeau County, WI. In 2004, the WDNR provided funding, through a local water quality assistance grant to GET, to support supplemental data collection for the development of the TMDL. In coordination with WDNR field staff and under the direction of Mr. Jon Johnson (GET Science Teacher), students monitored habitat, macroinvertebrates, and water chemistry and assisted with fish electro-shocking in Hardies creek. Some of the information collected by students with WDNR supervision was used in the development of this TMDL.

Management Goals

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

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Hardies Creek is located in the Lower Black River watershed which is 189.82 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (42%), agricultural (20.30%) and a mix of wetland (13.80%) and other uses (23.70%). This watershed has 383.70 stream miles, 1,042.10 lake acres and 17,676.19 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.

Natural Community

Hardies Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Coldwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results and DNR staff valiation processes that confirm or update predicted conditions based on flow and temperature modeling from historic and current landscape features and related variables. Predicated flow and temperatures for waters are associated predicated fish assemblages (communities). Biologists evaluate the model results against current survey data to determine if the modeled results are corect and whether biological indicators show water quaity degradation. This analysis is a core component of the state's resource management framework. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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Maps of Watershed