Tyler Forks, Tyler Forks Watershed (LS13)
Tyler Forks, Tyler Forks Watershed (LS13)
Tyler Forks (2923100)
9.18 Miles
25.65 - 34.83
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-Warm Headwater
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.
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.
Class III Trout
Streams capable of supporting a seasonal coldwater sport fishery and which may be managed as coldwater streams.
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.
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.


This river flows some 36 miles before emptying into the Bad River in Ashland County at Copper Falls State Park. The entire river is considered trout water, with a one-mile section near the confluence with Gehrman Creek designated exceptional resource waters for supporting a Class I trout fishery. Brook and brown trout are considered common, with an occasional rainbow trout. Brownstone Falls near the river's mouth presents a barrier to migratory fish from Lake Superior. A variety of bottom types occur in the river, from unstable sand to bedrock and rubble near the falls. Deep pool areas and long shallow riffles provide good habitat as the river passes through upland hardwood. The stream supports beaver, muskrat and migratory waterfowl.

This river experiences variable flow rates, with low flows a problem, particularly downstream from Highway 77 where some temperatures were measured in the past in ranges close to the lethal point for trout. The river forms at the confluence of Shine Creek, which flows from Shine Lake, and the O'Brien Lake outlet.

During survey work conducted as part of the coastal wetlands evaluation two rare species of macroinvertebrate were found and overall taxa richness was moderate (5-24 species) (Epstein 1997). Iron bacteria and aquatic plants were noted at an Iron County site. Livestock, barnyards and cropland were considered pollutant threats in the Ashland County portion of the river.

From: Turville-Heitz, Meg. 1999. Lake Superior Basin Water Quality Management Plan. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Tyler Forks, Tyler Forks Watershed (LS13) Fish and Aquatic LifeTyler Forks, Tyler Forks Watershed (LS13) RecreationTyler Forks, Tyler Forks Watershed (LS13) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Tyler Forks (From Southern boundary Bad River Indian Reservation downstream to Class 1 section "Around Gehrman Cr" as described in the trout books) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek


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.



Water Quality Planning
We propose to collect biological information (fish/bugs) and quantitative habitat and temperature on 14 TBD sites in the Tyler Forks River Watershed and part of the Upper Bad River Watershed. Up to 6 more TBD (for a total of approximately 20) sites may be added to the project depending on field conditions and site access .

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

Tyler Fks is located in the Tyler Forks watershed which is 78.76 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (73.20%), wetland (24.30%) and a mix of grassland (1.50%) and other uses (1.00%). This watershed has 143.50 stream miles, 190.30 lake acres and 12,279.72 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

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

Natural Community

Tyler Forks is considered a Cool-Warm Headwater 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 (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

Fisheries & Habitat

About one-quarter mile downstream from Copper Falls, Tyler Forks River drops 30 feet over Brownstone Falls into the Bad River. Another scenic attraction is the Tyler Forks Cascades, a series of five small waterfalls formed as Tyler Forks River flows over a series of rock ledges. In an effort to protect this scenic grandeur, the state established Copper Falls State Park in 1929.

From http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/masterplanning/documents/mp-pr-copperfallssp-1975.pdf

Date  2014

Author  Lisa Helmuth

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