Fish and Aquatic Life
Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.
Token Creek This spring-fed Class III trout stream is the primary tributary to the Yahara River, providing significant base flow for the Yahara River and Lake Mendota (40 to 50 percent). The stream passes through residential (7 percent), agricultural (73 percent) and wetland areas (4 percent). Intense agricultural practices contribute sediment and nutrients to the stream and small impoundments in upstream areas warm the water, decreasing its suitability for trout management and contribute to excessive rooted aquatic plant production, periods of low dissolved oxygen and turbidity. The first two miles are a warm water sport fishery with some rough species (carp, freshwater drum). From mile marker 2 to 4, the stream is fed by springs and supports water cress and a diverse fishery of cold water, sport and forage fish.
A major dam on the creek once created a 44-acre millpond. In 1992 this dam partially failed and the millpond has become a shallow- to deep-water marsh. At least two significant springs and numerous seeps have been identified in the area formerly covered by the millpond. These springs are identified by two major tributaries rising to form clearly defined wetland/stream tracts that lead to the creek. Biologists believe that preserving the springs is essential for maintaining the existing brown trout fishery and establishing a brook trout fishery. The millpond, as previously maintained, absorbed the cold water springs, which heated the water and impacted the creek's fishery and water quality. WDNR recognized the potential of restoring the millpond area to a natural cold water stream corridor surrounded by good quality wetlands. In partnership with the town of Windsor, Dane County, local conservation groups and residents, WDNR purchased 69 acres of the Token Creek Millpond area for $1 million. The Token Creek Millpond dam was removed and is being restored to a brook trout fishery. The stream is buffered by wetlands that have developed since the dam failed.
Runoff from the three major highways that cross the stream and the interchange and truck stops located adjacent to it likely affects water quality. Urban development in Sun Prairie and the towns of Windsor, Burke and Bristol will generate significant additional stormwater runoff bringing with it sediment and other pollutants. These problems need to be properly managed to protect the water quality and cold water fisheries of Token Creek, as well as the public and private investment made now and in the future to protect and enhance the stream and its fishery.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Token Creek -T8N, R10E, Sec. 7, Surface acres = 18, Length = 10 miles, Stream order = I, Gradient = 8.7 ft/mile,
Base discharge = 18.6 cfs.
Token Creek originates in Section 24 of Windsor Township (T9N, R10E) and empties into the Yahara River north of Lake Mendota. It drains 27.3 square miles of residential, agricultural, and marsh land. The creek is spring-fed but its flow is interrupted by several impoundments, limiting most portions of the creek to warm water fish species. Water quality is quite good considering the developmental pressures affecting the area, such as residential subdivisions and a major highway interchange. However, agricultural runoff has caused heavy silting problems. Although brown trout are no longer stocked in Token Creek, there is great potential for a trout fishery if the dams were removed, making the springs accessible to trout. Two spring impoundments presently serve as trout rearing ponds and two short sections support some wild brown trout. Carp are a problem in Token Creek and several eradication attempts have been made with no permanent success. The creek is navigable and receives moderate fishing pressure. Public access is available from several DNR-and county-owned tracts and from six road crossings. The creek flows through part of Cherokee Marsh which provides habitat for wildlife and waterfowl. Token Creek County Park located near the Junction of Hwys. 19 and 1-90/94 provides camping and day use facilities. Fish species: common carp, fathead minnow, creek chub, white sucker, brook stickleback, green sunfish, bluegill, walleye, and brown trout.
From: Day, Elizabeth A.; Grzebieniak, Gayle P.; Osterby, Kurt M.; and Brynildson, Clifford L., 1985. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Dane County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Token Creek, from its mouth to US 51 (miles 0 to 2.95), was evaluated in the 2016 and 2018 cycles for temperature and biology; this stream segment is on the Healthy Waters List.
Token Creel, from rom Hwy 51 to impoundment dam (miles 2.95 to 3.44), was placed on the impaired waters list in 1998 for sediment and degraded biological communities. A TMDL for this pollutant-impairment combination was approved in 2002. This segment of Token Creek was evaluated in the 2022 cycle for phosphorus and biology; no impairment was found.
Token Creek, from Token Creek Lane to confluence with third tributary (miles 3.44 to 7.25), was put on the impaired waters list in 1998 for Degraded Biological Community from too much sediment and dam causing barriers to fish passage. In 2018 the pollutant of fish barriers was removed because the dam was taken out of the stream in the 2000s. The stream segment is still listed for sediment, but the TMDL for this pollutant was approved in 2002. This portion of Token Creek was evaluated every two years from 2016 to 2022; phosphorus, chloride, temperature, bugs, fish, and bacteria indicate a healthy system.
Token Creek, from confluence with third tributary to Egre Road (miles 7.25 to 9.9), was put on the Impaired Waters List in the 1998 cycle for fish barriers and sediment. In the 2016 cycle phosphorus was also added to the list. The dam on
Token Creek was removed so there is no longer barrier to fish passage. Evaluations in the 2022 cycle confirmed the phosphorus impairment.
Token Creek, from Egre Rd to headwaters (miles 9.9 to 11.65), was put on the Impaired waters list for phosphorus in the 2016 cycle. Evaluations every two-year cycle from 2018 to 2022 confirmed the phosphorus impairment.
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.
Dane County proposes to acquire approximately 110 acres of land as an addition to Cherokee Marsh for low impact recreational opportunities and lake protection.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
The Token Creek Watershed Association will work to enhance their capacity as an organization by hiring a half time employee and by expanding their community education.
Educate and engage residents
The Token Creek Watershed Association will integrate public education and professionally lead workshops to:1) raise public awareness of stream protection benefits, 2) increase grass-roots membership in the organization, 3) train members of TCWA, and 4) aid in the ongoing process of strategic planning. Increasing public awareness of the watershed and TCWA will increase public support for TCWA activities as well as increasing memberships in the organization.
Token Creek was approved and implemented in 1999. The Dam was removed and the stream restored.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Token Creek TMDL Approved by USEPA addressing the sedimentation and habitat
degradation impairments which were identified on the Wisconsin 1998 303(d) list.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|806600||Token Creek||10015251||Token Creek-100 M Below Sun Prairie Branch To Culver Springs||Map||Data|
|806600||Token Creek||10015131||Token Creek-Cty Park Rd US 706 M to end||5/13/2015||9/22/2022||Map||Data|
|806600||Token Creek||133427||Token Creek Millpond at Portage Rd dam||5/19/1995||4/11/2022||Map||Data|
|806600||Token Creek||10011994||Token Creek - Sth 19 To Island||6/17/1992||8/5/2017||Map||Data|
|806600||Token Creek||10032543||Token Creek at Portage Road||2/13/2011||7/29/2021||Map||Data|
|806600||Token Creek||133329||Token Creek - Fish Pond (Hatchery)||7/11/1983||11/15/2000||Map||Data|
|806600||Token Creek||10011992||Token Creek - Upstream Of County Park||1/1/2015||7/29/2021||Map||Data|
Token Creek is located in the Yahara River and Lake Mendota watershed which is 112.56 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (65.30%), grassland (9.80%) and a mix of suburban (9.50%) and other uses (15.40%). This watershed has 107.14 stream miles, 385.75 lake acres and 5,200.97 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.