Douglas Creek, Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed (BR03)
Douglas Creek, Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed (BR03)
Douglas Creek (1691300)
1.75 Miles
0 - 1.75
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 Mainstem
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
High Phosphorus Levels
Total Phosphorus
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.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
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.
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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Douglas Creek, which flows toward the Black River from the north, is a Class I and II trout stream upstream of Melrose. The dam that created Douglas Pond in Melrose was removed in 1990. Douglas Creek is a tributary to the Black River. The entire stream is currently listed as impaired for total phosphorus.

Date  2017

Author  Camille Bruhn

Douglas Creek, Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed (BR03) Fish and Aquatic LifeDouglas Creek, Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed (BR03) RecreationDouglas Creek, Big and Douglas Creeks Watershed (BR03) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The 2014 HBI ratings at both the STH 54 and Vinger Road sites were very good with the possibility of slight organic pollution. The MIBI scores were excellent for the STH 54 reach and good for the reach at Vinger Road. Growing season total phosphorus monitoring was collected at the STH 54 site which gave a median concentration of 0.3995 mg/L, which exceeds the statewide criteria. The high total phosphorus concentration at this location is consistent with the impaired waters listing for TP for Douglas Creek.

Date  2017

Author  Camille Bruhn

Impaired Waters

Douglas Creek is currently listed as impaired for total phosphorus. Douglas Creek (1691300) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceed 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category).he high total phosphorus concentration at this location is consistent with the impaired waters listing for TP for Douglas Creek.

Date  2017

Author  Camille Bruhn


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.



Monitor Stressor Identification
Monitor Fish Community
Water Division staff should conduct physical, biological, and chemical surveys of Douglas Creek.

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

Douglas Creek is located in the Big and Douglas Creeks watershed which is 210.33 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (58.40%), agricultural (24.20%) and a mix of grassland (8.90%) and other uses (8.50%). This watershed has 375.17 stream miles, 473.57 lake acres and 7,564.97 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available for runoff impacts on lakes and Medium for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Medium. 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

Douglas Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model resultsand 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) Mainstem streams are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

Fish Species

Douglas Creek, is a tributary to the Black River and is a Class I and II trout stream upstream of Melrose. The entire stream is currently listed as impaired for total phosphorus. Both sites surveyed on Douglas Creek rated good for fish IBI scores. The site at State Highway 54 was a cool-cold mainstem dominated by brook stickleback; however, two individual trout were also found. The site at Vinger Road was a coldwater stream dominated by brook trout.

From the 2014 study, the qualitative habitat score at STH 54 was the lowest scoring site from all surveys and was rated as poor and the score at the Vinger Road site was within the fair range. The stream at STH 54 was very wide and shallow with additional habitat limitations including shifting sand bottom, very little fish cover and limited pool areas. Field notes indicated the channel was very incised with high banks (6-8 feet) and severe erosion with little canopy cover. The riparian area consisted of pasture. Habitat at Vinger Road was better with more cobble and gravel present, as well as more fish cover. The stream reach was similar to the STH 54 reach though in that it was also very incised with substantial erosion and sand deposition.

Date  2017

Author  Camille Bruhn

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