Baird Creek, East River Watershed (LF01)
Baird Creek, East River Watershed (LF01)
Baird Creek (118100)
3.50 Miles
0 - 3.50
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.
This river is impaired
Low DO, Degraded Habitat
Total Phosphorus, Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
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.


Baird Creek is a subwatershed draining 25 square miles in the northeast corner of the East River watershed. The creek is 31.1 miles long originating in agricultural lands to flow east through wetland, park and urban areas. The lower 3.5 miles is perennial and classified as FAL-B ( warm water sport fish communities) with the upper 27.6 miles of intermittent stream designated as FAL-C warm water forage fish.

The predominate land use in the upper reaches of the watershed is agriculture but is quickly being altered to urban as the population of the Green Bay metropolitan area spreads eastward. The subwatershed is unique in that a large portion (330 acres) along the stream corridor within the City of Green Bay has been designated as park land which includes the 270 acre Baird Creek Parkway with hiking and bicycling trails. The parkway is a mix of City, County, nonprofit and private ownership. The City of Green Bay is currently in the process of formalizing the parkway plan as a part of it’s new comprehensive land use planning process.

Date  2006

Author  James Reyburn

Baird Creek, East River Watershed (LF01) Fish and Aquatic LifeBaird Creek, East River Watershed (LF01) RecreationBaird Creek, East River Watershed (LF01) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Baird Creek, a 13.1 mile stream which originates in agricultural lands then travels east through wetland, park and urban areas. The creek becomes urban as it joins the East River in Green Bay. The upstream clarity of this stream differs considerably from the turbid waters downstream where many storm sewers discharge to the stream. Walleye are known to migrate up Baird Creek during spring spawning. The creek supports a warm water forage fishery as well as a warm water sport fishery. Stream habitat assessment surveys indicate poor to fair habitat and macroinvertebrate studies indicate very good to poor water quality. In a 1985 survey of Baird Creek, the Redside Dace, a Wisconsin Watch Species, was found (Meyers, 1998).

In general water quality ranges from good in the upper reaches to poor in the lower urban reaches. The stream suffers from nonpoint rural and urban storm water, barnyard runoff, stream bank and cropland erosion causing turbidity, and nutrient problems as well as sedimentation and habitat loss. Historic stream habitat assessment surveys indicate poor to fair habitat and macroinveribrate studies indicate very good to poor water quality (WI DNR 1999).

Date  2006

Author  James Reyburn

Impaired Waters

Baird Creek from its mouth to east of highway 43 (miles 0 to 3.5) was listed in the 2006 cycle due to elevated levels of phosphorus and sediment/TSS causing low dissolved oxygen and degraded habitat. Evaluations every two-year cycle from 2016 to 2022 confirmed the phosphorus impairment.

Baird Creek from east of highway 43 to its headwaters (miles 3.5 to 13.1) was listed in the 2008 cycle due to elevated levels of phosphorus and sediment/TSS causing low dissolved oxygen and degraded habitat. Evaluation in the 2012 cycle for phosphorus confirmed the impairment.

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.



Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Flow data is needed along with in-stream water quality parameters (nutrients and suspended solids) to determine effectiveness of TMDL implementation in the Baird Creek Watershed. This has been funded the past 3 years through 319 funds. Data will be used to support Brown County efforts and assess water quality for Integrated Reporting Process.
TMDL Implementation
2.7 miles of additional buffers were added to the Baird Creek watershed in 2011. This gage is the only active gage in the area that can help determine effectiveness of BMPs installed in this watershed as part of TMDL implementation efforts in Brown County.
Control Streambank Erosion
Buffer Strip installation in key sections of Baird Creek watershed to reduce agriculture nutrient, sediment and pesticide loading to Baird Creek & ultimately the Lower Fox River & Bay of Green Bay.
Educate and engage residents
The Baird Creek Preservation Foundation proposes to conduct a project called Community, Education, and Involvement Program. This is a capacity building effort to increase membership, member retention, member satisfaction and volunteer activity. This will be accomplished by issuing 3 newsletters/year, sponsoring 3-5 community events, deliver member acquisition mailing to 2000 Green Bay residents, develop a membership data base, member retention and volunteer programs.
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Monitoring 303d listing of water for listing portion of water above main street.
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
In-stream water-quality parameters (nutrients and suspended solids) will be monitored. The overall objective of this monitoring is to compare daily phosphorus and suspended solids loads for each watershed. Measured loads will be compared with those modeled by the University of Wisconsin Green Bay (UWGB). Monitor progress on stream restoration. Data to be used to assess water quality for Integrated Reporting Process
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Baird Creek TMDL Approved

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

Monitoring Studies

Three sampling stations were selected based on the surrounding land use. The uppermost site was located at Northview Road and represents an agricultural use site. The middle station was located in the Baird Creek Parkway just downstream of I-43 and is identified as the Railroad Bridge site. All stage recording was done from the railroad trestle crossing the creek This site represented a transitional site between agriculture and urban land use. The third site was located at the Main Street bridge just before it’s confluence
with the East River and represented an urban setting.

The study began in the spring of 2001 with the establishment of the stations and was scheduled to run through Spring 2003. Unfortunately due to funding constraints the number of water quality samples were reduced in the fall of 2002 and the project terminated in October 2002.

A study of Baird Creek in 2006 conducted a habitat assessment, which ranked sites along the creek from poor at Main Street to good at the upper two stations. This was generally a factor of low flow and high suspended solid loading. It does not appear that the stream habitat has improved significantly from an earlier habitat assessments conducted by DNR in 1992 and 1999.

The macroinvertibrate index indicated good water quality at the two stream stations but no macroinvetibrates were found at Main Street. It appears that a sediment toxicity problem is adversely impacting the benthic community at the Main Street site. The laboratory could not identify a chemical of concern but the problem could be caused by nonpoint runoff of oil/grease and heavy metals. Additional study is needed to identify the source of the impacts.

In general additional work is needed to limit the agricultural and nonpoint nutrient and suspended solid loading to Baird Creek in order for the system to attain its full fish and aquatic life potential.

Date  2006

Author  James Reyburn

Watershed Characteristics

Baird Creek is located in the East River watershed which is 206.32 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (43.70%), suburban (19.50%) and a mix of grassland (14.70%) and other uses (22.10%). This watershed has 432.18 stream miles, 7,625.39 lake acres and 6,193.00 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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.

Natural Community

Baird Creek 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

Habitat Assessment
Habitat assessment was conducted at the three sample sites using the DNR Guidelines for Evaluating Habitat of Wadable Streams - revised July 2000. The guidelines call for the establishment of a stream station at each site with a minimum of 12 transects established across the stream at set intervals for the entire stream station length. Stream station length is based on the mean stream width (MSW).

For streams between 2.9 and 20 meters in width the station length is 35 times the MSW. If the MSW is less than 2.9 meters, a minimum of 100 meter long station will be sampled. Four data sheets are used to evaluate habitat to include station summary, flow data, map data and transect data. Data collected includes characteristics of width, depth, imbeddedness, substrate, canopy/shading, fish cover, percent macrophytes, algae ,bank erosion, land use and habitat type. Using a U.S Dept of Agriculture report NC-164 habitat rating form, a numeric value can be calculated to evaluate and rank the habitat quality. A score less than 25 is poor and a score greater than 75 is considered excellent.

Biological Assessments
Biological assessment was done in the summer of 2001at all three sites to include the collection of stream macroinvertebrate and fish. Due to low/no flow conditions at the Northview Rd. site at the time of sampling, the sample location was moved to the downstream road crossing at Woodside Rd. Macroinvertibrates were collected with a D frame kick net, preserved in ethanol and transferred to UW-Stevens Point entomology lab for sorting and identification. A Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) was calculated for each site.

The HBI score can range from 1 -10 and is determined by species diversity, abundance and water pollution tolerance. Invertebrate samples were collected from stream riffle areas using standard Department sampling procedures. An HBI score of < 3.5 is considered excellent water quality and a score of > 8.5 is considered very poor water quality.

Fish were sampled using standard backpack electrofishing equipment for the established stream station length of 35 times the mean stream width.. One upstream pass was made collecting all fish with small nets. All fish were counted and identified in the field prior to release. Any fish that could not be identified in the field were returned to the lab and preserved for later identification. Using the guidelines contained in report NC-149 U.S. Dept of Agriculture, the number of fish, fish species, condition and community structure is determined and an index of biotic integrity (IBI) value calculated for each site. The IBI value range from 0 (poor) to 100 (excellent) and is a general indicator as to the overall environmental quality of a stream site. A low score indicates that a environmental problem exists.

Date  2006

Author  James Reyburn

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