Dunlap Creek, Roxbury Creek Watershed (LW18)
Dunlap Creek, Roxbury Creek Watershed (LW18)
Dunlap Creek (1253300)
6.07 Miles
0 - 6.07
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, 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.
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 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.
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.


Dunlap Creek is a small tributary to the Wisconsin River. Approximately 3.5 miles of it are classified as Class II trout waters. The creek has been extensively ditched from the end of the trout water to the Wisconsin River. Despite this, the creek still serves as a nursery stream for several warm water fish from the Wisconsin River including northern pike. A rare aquatic species has been found in the creek in past surveys.

The creek flows through several publicly owned and leased lands including the Mazomanie and Blackhawk Units of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. In addition, there is a large, high quality wetland complex adjacent to the stream. This wetland, however, has been significantly degraded by the presence of purple loosestrife. This exotic, invasive species has dominated the area and continues to spread.

Sedimentation from cultivated fields and grazing are affecting in-stream habitat and impairing the stream's full use. This sub-watershed was selected as a small-scale nonpoint source priority watershed project in 1991. An appraisal monitoring report and a project plan detailing what needs to be done to improve water quality was completed in 1992 or early 1993. The main focus of this project is to reduce soil erosion from upland areas in the Dunlap Creek watershed. Many of the cost-share practices are focused on controlling the formation of gullies or the worsening of existing gullies.

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

The Roxbury Creek watershed lies mostly in northwest Dane County. A small portion of
it extends into Columbia County. Agricultural predominates, though residential
development has increased due to proximity to Madison. A part of the Mazomanie Unit
of the Lower Wisconsin State Wildlife Area is in the watershed. The only municipal
point source discharger is the Roxbury Sanitary District. The Dunlap Creek subwatershed
above Wisconsin Highway 78 has recently been selected as a small-scale
priority watershed project.
The Dane County portion of this watershed is included in the Dane County Regional
Planning Commission (DCRPC) Dane County Water Quality Plan. That plan should be
consulted for more detailed water resources information and for additional

Date  1994

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Dunlap Creek (Dunlap Hollow Creek) -T9N, R6E, Sec. 31, Surface acres = 7, Length = 9.5 miles, Stream order = I, Gradient = 15.0 ft/mile, Base discharge = 5.8 cfs.
This spring-fed tributary to the Wisconsin River originates in a terminal moraine and has a relatively steep gradient in the upper half and a low gradient in the lower half of the stream. The lower section of the creek was diverted from a northerly course and now flows through a drainage ditch in a southwesterly direction. This drainage ditch runs for more than 4 miles through the Mazomanle Wildlife Area which encompasses extensive wetlands. Fair populations of northern pike and largemouth bass inhabit the lower stretch. The upper half of the stream has good in-stream cover and is classified as
a Class II and III trout fishery. Water quality is good. Some habitat improvement has been made, but improvement and protection of the major springs could benefit the trout population. The substrate in the lower end consists mainly of silt, clay, and hardpan. In the upper reaches the bottom is mainly sand and gravel. A bog is located upstream from Highway 78. Access is available from the Mazomanle Wildlife Area, seven road crossings, and the Wisconsin River.
Fish species: brown trout, central mudmlnnow, northern pike, common carp, blacknose dace, creek chub, white sucker, black bullhead, brook stickleback, mottled sculpln. and largemouth bass.

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.

Date  1985

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Dunlap Creek, Roxbury Creek Watershed (LW18) Fish and Aquatic LifeDunlap Creek, Roxbury Creek Watershed (LW18) RecreationDunlap Creek, Roxbury Creek Watershed (LW18) 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.


Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Nine Key Element Plan
Dunlap Creek PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Dunlap Creek Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Dunlap Creek Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for Dunlap Creek and its tributaries.

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

Dunlap Creek is located in the Roxbury Creek watershed which is 71.11 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (40.40%), forest (28.50%) and a mix of wetland (12.80%) and other uses (18.30%). This watershed has 111.73 stream miles, 988.84 lake acres and 4,432.98 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.

Natural Community

Dunlap Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Warm 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 (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.

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.

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