Big Rib River, Upper Rib River Watershed (CW26)
Big Rib River, Upper Rib River Watershed (CW26)
Big Rib River (1451800)
2.40 Miles
32.79 - 35.19
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-Warm Mainstem
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.
2022
Good
 
Lincoln, Taylor
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.
Yes
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.
No
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.
No

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.
Cold (Class II Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L through natural reproduction and selective propagation. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
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.
Cold (Class II Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L through natural reproduction and selective propagation. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
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.
Cold
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.

Overview

The Lower Big Rib River is classified as a warm water sport fishery. The river is currently stocked with muskies from Marathon City downstream to Lake Wausau. Other gamefish species commonly found in the river include walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass. A mercury advisory for the consumption of walleye exists between Rib Falls and Lake Wausau. Limiting factors of habitat include nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, lack of fish cover and poor flow regimes. Sources of these problems have been identified as cropland erosion, streambank erosion, urban runoff, and point source discharges. Upstream of the town of Rib Falls, the Big Rib River appears to be undergoing long-term bank erosion resulting from natural processes. Bar development is apparently the result of major rain episodes rather than historic deposition. Resource specialists the falls of Rib Falls have served as a natural barrier to the effects of past in-stream mining by preventing head cutting. Historic in-stream nonmetallic mining operations have had a negative impact on the river downstream of Rib Falls.

The Upper Big Rib River has an excellent fishery. Classified as a Class I, II, and III trout stream, it also contains Class A musky waters, and small mouth bass and walleye fisheries. Biotic index sampling conducted in 1978 indicated excellent water quality.

As noted above, sand and gravel excavations affect the Big Rib River (Upper). Fish stranding has occurred in isolated excavations adjacent to the river. Sediment may be entering the stream as a result of gravel washing.

Date  2002

Author  Linnea Rock

Historical Description

The Lower Big Rib River is classified as a warm water game fishery. STORET water quality data indicates levels of nitrite-nitrate nitrogen as high as 3.6-4.1 ppm. A Department of Justice letter to the DNR in 1977 indicated 34.4 miles of the Rib River was pocketed with 20 excavation sites.

Date  1991

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Big Rib River, Upper Rib River Watershed (CW26) Fish and Aquatic LifeBig Rib River, Upper Rib River Watershed (CW26) RecreationBig Rib River, Upper Rib River Watershed (CW26) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

For assessment purposes Big Rib River is broken into 10 segments.

Big Rib River, from its mouth to Highway 107 at Marathon City (mile 0-11.84), was evaluated for phosphorus in 2018 and found in good condition. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River, from Highway 107 at Marathon City to Pine Creek (mile 11.84-17.42), was evaluated in 2016; general mIBI assessment indicates that this water is meeting Fish and Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River, from Pine Creek to Einert Creek (mile 17.42-22.53), was evaluated in the 2018 listing cycle; evaluation showed phosphorus and biology appropriate for Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River [Einert Creek to near Felbaum Rd (mile 22.53-28.47), was evaluated in the 2018 listing cycle; evaluation showed phosphorus and biology appropriate for Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River, from near Felbaum Rd to the Marathon-Lincoln county line (mile 28.47-32.79), was evaluated in the 2018 listing cycle; evaluation showed phosphorus and biology appropriate for Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River, from Marathon-Lincoln county line to Lincoln-Taylor county line (mile 32.79-35.19), was evaluated in 2018; general fish IBI assessment indicates that this water is meeting Fish and Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River, from Lincoln-Taylor county line to Lemke Drive (mile 35.19-40.54), was evaluated every two years from 2018 to 2022; phosphorus and bug samples indicated a healthy system. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River, from Lemke Drive to CTH M (mile 40.54-44.8), was evaluated in 2016; general mIBI assessment indicates that this water is meeting Fish and Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.

Big Rib River [CTH M to CTH C (mile 44.8-49.91)]: was evaluated for phosphorus and biology every two-year cycle from 2018 to 2022. Phosphorus levels were found to be too high and this segment was added to the impaired waters list in 2018. This water is part of the Wisconsin River TMDL; this listing was moved to the Restoration Waters List in the 2022 cycle.

Big Rib River, CTH C to headwaters (mile 49.91-55.13), was evaluated for phosphorus and biology every two-year cycle from 2018 to 2022. Phosphorus levels were found to be too high and this segment was added to the impaired waters list in 2018. This water is part of the Wisconsin River TMDL; this listing was moved to the Restoration Waters List in the 2022 cycle.

Date  2022

Author  Ashley Beranek

Condition

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.

Reports

Recommendations

Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Category 3. 2018 TP Results: May Exceed. Station: 613055. AU: 12486.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lower Big Rib River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Lower Big Rib River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Lower Big Rib River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for Lower Big Rib River and its tributaries. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of pollutants originating from nonpoint sources that reach surface water and groundwater within the Lower Big Rib River Priority Watershed Project area.
Monitor Fish Tissue
Confirm FCA 1451800 name Big Rib River TMDL ID 44 Start Mile 0 End Mile 13.52

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

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

Big Rib River is located in the Upper Rib River watershed which is 197.07 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (51.60%), wetland (26.90%) and a mix of agricultural (13.60%) and other uses (7.90%). This watershed has stream miles, lake acres and 17,127.41 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, Low for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. 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

Big Rib River is considered a Cool-Warm Mainstem 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.

Fisheries & Habitat

From the Lincoln-Taylor county line to Lemke Drive in Taylor County (class 3); from Lemke Drive to CTH M (class 2); from CTM M to CTH C (class 1).

Date  1980

Author   Aquatic Biologist