North Fork Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Taylor Co.) River Watershed (LC20)
North Fork Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Taylor Co.) River Watershed (LC20)
North Fork Yellow River (2166400)
21.10 Miles
0 - 21.10
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.
Small, Cool-Warm Headwater, Cool-Warm 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.
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 warm waterdependent sport fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.


The Yellow River is formed by the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Yellbw River in
the Chequamegon National Forest. The Yellow River in ths area is quite small. In the 1960s, a dam
on the Yellow River created the Chequamegon Waters Flowage, whch supports a good warm water
sport fishery and is hghly valued for wildlife habitat. The flowage supports ducks, swans, and nesting
eagles. Below Chequamegon Waters Flowage, the Yellow River flow increases, supporting a better
fishery than upstream of the flowage, and is more popular for canoeing. The Yellow River below the
flowage has fairly steep river banks, adding to the canoeing experience.
The municipal wastewater treatment plant at Gilman, whch discharges to a wetland tributary to the
Yellow River, is the only point source discharge in this watershed. The present WPDES permit for this
aerated pond facility requires that the village evaluate the need for phosphorus removal as required
under NR 217. If the plant discharges more than
removal facilities will have to be provided. A 1989
to the Yellow River from the discharge (WRM).
Some sources of polluted runoff are evident in the
are available to document habitat or water quality
the 150-~ound-~&-m&th threshold, phosphorus
site investigation found no water quality impacts
lower part of the watershed, but insufficient data
A shaft gold mine has been proposed near the North Fork of the Yellow River in the Chequamegon
National Forest. Fisheries and habitat surveys conducted in 1992 to provide baseline data for the North
Fork Yellow and the Yellow rivers found that the fish community in the proposed mining area may
be somewhat limited by lack of cover (Kanehl).

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

North Fork Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Taylor Co.) River Watershed (LC20) Fish and Aquatic LifeNorth Fork Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Taylor Co.) River Watershed (LC20) RecreationNorth Fork Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Taylor Co.) River Watershed (LC20) 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.


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

North Fork Yellow River is located in the Upper Yellow (Taylor Co.) River watershed which is 241.08 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (51.50%), wetland (30.60%) and a mix of agricultural (10.80%) and other uses (7.10%). This watershed has 306.51 stream miles, 682.42 lake acres and 30,178.84 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low 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.

Natural Community

North Fork Yellow River is considered a Small, Cool-Warm Headwater, Cool-Warm 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.

Small lake describes the size of small isolated waters. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.

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.

Fish Stocking