Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02)
Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02)
Bad Axe River (1639300)
4.26 Miles
0 - 4.26
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.
2020
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Impairment Unknown
Total Phosphorus
 
Vernon
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.
No
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.
Yes

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.
WWSF
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.
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.
WWSF
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.

Overview

The Bad Axe River, located in southwestern Vernon County, flows in a westerly direction for approximately five miles before reaching the Mississippi River south of Genoa. The lower end of the Bad Axe River flows through the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge and the Genoa National Fish Hatchery. It has a slight gradient of less than 20 feet per mile and drains steep forests, agricultural land, and lowland pasture. Approximately 370 acres of wetland adjoin the lower end of the Bad Axe River near the Mississippi River. The Bad Axe River is not a classified trout stream, but contains warm water sport fish.

The most recent survey, completed in 1960, documented a 60 foot wide river averaging over four feet deep. Low mud flats, steep eroding banks and forested bank cover were observed. The fish found in the Bad Axe River were all species common to the Mississippi River such as northern pike, sauger, largemouth bass, white crappie, black crappie, freshwater drum, mooneye and northern redhorse. A fishery survey should be conducted to update the biological information available for the Bad Axe River. No WDNR stocking records exist for the Bad Axe River. Access to the river is from three road crossings and the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

From: Koperski, Cindy. 2002. The State of the Bad Axe - La Crosse Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

Bad Axe River. T21N. R7W. Section 160 Surface Acres = 32.9. Miles = 4.6. Gradient = less than 20 feet
per mile.
This hard water stream flows in a westerly direction and joins the Mississippi River about two and three-quarter miles north of Victory. At the time of survey, the water was turbid. Sauger, northern pike, largemouth bass, white crappie, black crappie, mooneye, freshwater drum (sheepshead), redhorse, gizzard shad, white sucker, carp, and numerous small minnow species comprise the fishery. Sand is the dominant bottom type, with some silt and small amounts of detritus, clay, gravel, and rubble. The lower end of the stream flows through the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge, and the Genoa National Fish Hatchery has land bordering the stream. Three roads cross the stream. There are about 371 acres of adjoining wetlands. Wildlife includes muskrat, beaver, nesting mallards, teal, and wood ducks, and considerable numbers of migrant puddle and diving ducks.

From: Klick, Thomas A. and Threinen, C.W. 1973. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Vernon County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1973

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Bad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02) Fish and Aquatic LifeBad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02) RecreationBad Axe River, Bad Axe River Watershed (BL02) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Bad Axe River (1639300) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category).

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

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 Fish Community
Conduct biological monitoring, wbic 1639300 to evaluate TP impacts
Water Quality Planning
Basin Planning
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Increased runoff volumes from expanding urban areas in the basin threaten not only the quality but also the future existence of adjacent trout streams. The change in stormwater runoff volume as well as when and how much of it reaches an adjacent stream can degrade the in-stream habitat and water temperatures necessary for trout survival.
Urban Growth Planning
Development encroaching into the extensive lower La Crosse River wetland complex threatens not only the flood control function, but also the diversity of plant and animal species residing within. Requests to fill one acre here and a half acre there of the La Crosse River marsh contributes to the cumulative reduction in total area.
Runoff Grant
Beach closings due to unsafe bacterial levels in rivers and in some impoundments are of concern. Due to the topographic constraints of many farms in the basin, many barnyards and feedlots are immediately adjacent to streams. If not properly managed, these areas can contribute large amounts of bacteria laden manure to a stream.

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

Bad Axe River is located in the Bad Axe River watershed which is 195.49 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (40%), agricultural (29.60%) and a mix of grassland (24.60%) and other uses (5.80%). This watershed has 468.27 stream miles, 489.81 lake acres and 2,552.28 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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

Bad Axe River is considered a Cool-Warm Mainstem 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.

Fisheries & Habitat

The Bad Axe River is not a classified trout stream, but contains warm water sport fish. The most recent survey, completed in 1960, documented a 60 foot wide river averaging over four feet deep. Low mud flats, steep eroding banks and forested bank cover were observed. The fish found in the Bad Axe River were all species common to the Mississippi River such as northern pike, sauger, largemouth bass, white crappie, black crappie, freshwater drum, mooneye and northern redhorse. A fishery survey should be conducted to update the biological information available for the Bad Axe River. No WDNR stocking records exist for the Bad Axe River.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist