Little Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek Watershed (LR01)
Little Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek Watershed (LR01)
Little Turtle Creek (791700)
6.63 Miles
7.34 - 13.97
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 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.
Rock, Walworth
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage 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.
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.


Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.

Little Turtle Creek Most of Little Turtle Creek's 12 miles have been ditched for drainage of the surrounding farm lands, resulting in habitat deterioration, increased water temperatures, high turbidity, sedimentation, infilling of deep pool habitat, and excessive nutrient and fecal bacteria concentrations.

This stream is managed as a warm water forage fishery. The Rock County portion of this stream is an Exceptional Resource Water. The stream supports the gravel chub and slender madtom, two species on the state threatened and endangered species list. Little Turtle Creek is too shallow to provide habitat for game fish.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist


Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.

Turtle Creek--Rock-Walworth Co. Line to the WI/IL Border This 20-mile segment runs from the Rock-Walworth county line southwest to where it empties into the Rock River at Beloit. A high quality resource, it is designated an Exceptional Resource Water. This segment has a higher gradient than the first two segments, but it is still affected by urban polluted runoff in the Beloit area and by sediment from adjacent corn fields and severely eroding streambanks upstream of the city.

The Shopiere Dam was removed in 2000. Walleye, catfish, northern pike, and panfish now have access to the upper reaches of the stream. Formerly, Turtle Creek supported an excellent smallmouth bass fishery below the dam and a marginal smallmouth bass fishery above the dam. The removal of the Shopiere Dam has enabled fish migration and the smallmouth bass fishery is expected to improve.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

A warm water stream originating in southwest Walworth County, flowing into Rock County and then north. The stream swings back east into Walworth County were it meanders north again and then flows back into Rock County for a short distance before reaching Turtle Creek. The stream is managed for forage species but a few smallmouth bass may enter from Turtle Creek. Most of the stream in Rock County has been ditched resulting in habitat deterioration and elevated water temperatures. Adjoining fresh meadow wetland totals 22 acres. The mouth of the stream lies in the Turtle Creek Wildlife area. Access is available from 2 town roads and 3 county road crossings, and from Turtle Creek.

Surface Acres = 24.44 Miles= 7.2, Gradient = 8.25 feet per mile.
From: Ball, Joseph R., and Ronald J. Poff, Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Rock County, Department of Natural Resources, 1970.

Date  1970

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Little Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek Watershed (LR01) Fish and Aquatic LifeLittle Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek Watershed (LR01) RecreationLittle Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek Watershed (LR01) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of Little Turtle Creek (Rock-Walworth county line south of Lake Shore Road to Rock-Walworth county line north of HWY 43) showed impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, this water was proposed for the impaired waters list.

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.


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

Little Turtle Creek is located in the Turtle Creek watershed which is 288.47 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (69.80%), grassland (9.10%) and a mix of forest (6.50%) and other uses (14.50%). This watershed has 339.80 stream miles, 590.58 lake acres and 6,590.97 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.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

Little Turtle Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater 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) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.