Halls Creek, Halls Creek Watershed (BR06)
Halls Creek, Halls Creek Watershed (BR06)
Halls Creek (1710600)
13.19 Miles
0 - 13.19
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, Cool-Warm Mainstem, 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
Impairment Unknown
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.
Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Halls Creek, also known as Stockwell Creek, begins northwest of Alma Center, flows through Merrillan, where it's impounded twice, and eventually reaches the Black River below Lake Arbutus 22 miles later. The uppermost five miles is classified as a Class I trout fishery, the next 6.8 miles are Class II (Talley, 1983). A fisheries survey of Halls Creek below Trow Lake (approximately 10 miles in length) reported walleye, smallmouth bass, a few brown trout, rough fish and forage fish. Heelsplitter mussels were abundant at one site (Talley, 1994). Three or four different species of mussels were observed at the mouth of Halls Creek in 1994 (Hazuga). Only the extreme lower end of Halls Creek is in public ownership, as well as a small portion in the Jackson County lands near Merrillan. Extension of the Black River State Forest boundary continuing up Halls Creek approximately three river miles would protect a very scenic landscape. This lower portion of Halls Creek contains mature trees, sandstone outcrops and 75 foot high canyon walls. The Halls Creek State Fishery Area consists of many small tracts of land adjacent to Halls Creek above Merrillan. State ownership of streambank acres effectively protects in-stream habitat of this Class I section of trout water. As land within the designated purchase area becomes available, the Department should pursue acquisition.

Temperature monitoring, macroinvertebrate samples, and habitat ratings were collected in 1992 on Halls Creek and its two main tributaries, the East and South Forks. Continuous stream temperature monitoring data indicate the impoundments at Merrillan increase downstream in-stream temperatures. Maximum stream temperatures were 1.5-1.8 degrees C higher downstream of the impoundments, when compared to upstream sites. The maximum temperatures exceeded the upper limiting temperature for brook trout and generally exceeded the optimal temperature range for growth and survival of brook and brown trout (Schreiber).

The in-stream habitat of Halls Creek above Merrillan was rated highest in the watershed. Macroinvertebrate sampling indicated excellent water quality conditions above, and good water quality conditions below Merrillan (Schreiber).

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

Date  1999

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Halls Creek, Halls Creek Watershed (BR06) Fish and Aquatic LifeHalls Creek, Halls Creek Watershed (BR06) RecreationHalls Creek, Halls Creek Watershed (BR06) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Halls Creek, from its mouth to South Fork Halls Creek (miles 0 to 13.19), was put on the impaired waters list in 2014 for elevated phosphorus levels. This segment was evaluated in the 2016 and 2018 and the phosphorus listing was confirmed; evaluation of fish, macroinvertebrates, and temperature found no additional impairments.

Halls Creek, from South Fork to the headwaters (miles 13.2 to 25.87), was evaluated in 2014 and every two years between 2018 and 2022; fish and bug data indicated a healthy system. This stream segment is on the Healthy Waters List.

Date  2022

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.



Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.

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

Halls Creek is located in the Halls Creek watershed which is 115.13 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (59%), agricultural (27.80%) and a mix of grassland (6.60%) and other uses (6.60%). This watershed has 214.37 stream miles, 148.87 lake acres and 7,228.50 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

Halls Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Mainstem, 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) 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.

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