Coon Creek, Coon Creek Watershed (BL03)
Coon Creek, Coon Creek Watershed (BL03)
Coon Creek (1643500)
13.81 Miles
0 - 13.81
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 Mainstem, Cool-Warm Mainstem, Coldwater
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
Impairment Unknown
Total Phosphorus
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.
Class III Trout
Streams capable of supporting a seasonal coldwater sport fishery and which may be managed as coldwater streams.
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.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.


Coon Creek, located in northwestern Vernon County, flows in a southwesterly direction for approximately 22 miles before reaching the Mississippi River near Stoddard. It has a slight gradient of 7.1 feet per mile and drains steep forested hillsides and agricultural lands. Coon Creek is a Class III trout stream from STH 35 upstream to CTH K at Chaseburg and Class II from CTH K upstream to the confluence of Bohemian Valley and Timber Coulee Creeks northeast of Coon Valley.

Bohemian Valley Creek, which is the upper nine miles of Coon Creek, begins in Monroe County and flows for 9 miles in a southwesterly direction, cutting through the southeastern corner of La Crosse County into Vernon County. It has a moderate gradient of 45 feet per mile and drains steep sloped agricultural land and forested hillsides as well as lowland pasture. Bohemian Valley Creek is a Class I trout stream for its entire length.

Date  2011

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

This tributary of the Mississippi River heads in Monroe County, flows through the southeast portion of La Crosse County, and in a general westerly direction through the northwestern portion of Vernon County to the Mississippi. That portion of the creek in Monroe and La Crosse Counties, and from the junction of Timber Coulee Creek upstream in Vernon County, is locally known as Bohemian Valley Creek. The portion of stream above the County Trunk Highway "K" road crossing is Class III brown trout water. White suckers, longnose dace, Johnny darters, blacknose dace and creek chubs are also present. The winter aerial groundwater survey found open water from about midway between Chaseburg and Coon Valley upstream. While the dominant bottom type is sand, there is considerable silt and small amounts of gravel, rubble, and boulder. Access is possible from many road crossings, the Coon Valley Park, and from the Mississippi River. The lower portion of the stream flows through the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge. There are about }38 acres of adjoining wetland. Muskrat are significant and beaver are present. Teal, mallards, and wood ducks nest along the stream, and considerable numbers of dabbler and diving ducks use the water during periods of migration.

Coon Creek. T14N, R7W, Section 33. Surface Acres = 76.7, Miles = 22.0, Gradient = 7.1 feet per mile.

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   Aquatic Biologist

Coon Creek, Coon Creek Watershed (BL03) Fish and Aquatic LifeCoon Creek, Coon Creek Watershed (BL03) RecreationCoon Creek, Coon Creek Watershed (BL03) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Coon Creek (WBIC 1643500) from CTH K in Chaseburg to the Vernon/La Crosse County line was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

General Condition

Access to Coon Creek is possible from numerous road crossings, the Coon Valley Park at STH 14/61, WDNR easements, WDNR owned land, and from the Mississippi River. The lower portion of the stream flows through the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge. The Village of Chaseburg has a walking trail and wheelchair accessible fishing to Coon Creek. The Village of Coon Valley Park provides a looped walking path along both sides of Coon Creek with two bridges and wheelchair accessible trout fishing. The deep, swift current, in-stream habitat structures, and easy access create an enjoyable fishing experience for many.

Date  2011

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Impaired Waters

The Coon Creek, from its mouth to CTH K in Chaseburg (milse 0 to 13) was put on the impaired waters list for phosphorus in the 2012 cycle. This stream segment was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data clearly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.

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.



Monitor or Assess Watershed Condition
IR Assessments and WT Planning Conducted in 2010-11
Water Quality Planning
Watershed Planning was conducted in 2011 and the plan published online of that year.
Habitat Restoration - Instream
The WDNR should continue in-stream habitat restoration in all streams where necessary in Coon Creek Fishery Area streams.
Natural Areas Protection
The WDNR should extend the Coon Creek Fishery Area to include Coon Creek downstream of Chaseburg to the Mississippi River.

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

The most recent habitat survey, conducted in 2009, documented a stream bottom consisting mainly of sand and clay with lesser amounts of silt, gravel, detritus and rubble. Riparian land use was comprised of mostly woodland with some home development and meadow areas. Aquatic insects were also collected in 2009 and the Macroinvertebrate Index of Biological Integrity (MIBI) score was determined to be poor (1.69). Seven fi sh collections have occurred in this stream since 2007 with game fi sh such as brown trout, brook trout, tiger trout (brook and brown trout hybrid), northern pike, green sunfi sh, largemouth bass, and pumpkinseed being found. The coldwater Fish Index of Biological Integrity (FIBI) was calculated for the fi sh collections, resulting in four fair and three good scores, indicating water quality adequate to support a cold water fi shery. Chipmunk Coulee Creek would benefi t from the acquisition of streambank easements and in-stream habitat restoration. Access is possible from four road crossings and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge.

Date  2011

Author  Christopher Pracheil

Watershed Characteristics

Coon Creek is located in the Coon Creek watershed which is 238.20 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (44.60%), grassland (21.30%) and a mix of agricultural (16.50%) and other uses (17.60%). This watershed has 574.90 stream miles, 4,342.05 lake acres and 6,052.31 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and Medium for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Medium. 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

Coon Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Mainstem, Coldwater 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) Mainstem streams are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

Fisheries & Habitat

A survey in 1986 documented watershed land use split evenly between agricultural land and forests, with approximately 140 acres of adjoining wetland. Riparian land was comprised of pasture, shrub marsh, swamp hardwood and cultivated land. In-stream cover consisted of logs, deep pools and undercut banks. Problems noted were bank erosion, log jams in the lower reaches, flooding and siltation. Severe flooding and siltation limit a good trout fishery in the lower reaches of Coon Creek. Brook, brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and a variety of minnows were found during the 1986 survey. From 1960 - 1997 brown trout and occasionally rainbow trout were stocked. From 1997 to present, brook trout have been introduced to the stream.

Three P.L. 566 dry pool flood detention structures exist in the watershed draining toward Bohemian Valley Creek. From the Korn Spring (Section 24, T15N,R5W) downstream, water temperature and quality are ideal for brown trout. The cool water temperatures are the result of more than 50 springs entering the creek in La Crosse County alone. The stream was most recently visited in 1999 when adult male and female brown trout were collected for brood stock, which provide offspring used for wild brown trout stocking statewide. However, the most recent habitat survey was conducted in 1975. The water was clear and contained a low suspended silt load. The streambed consisted mainly of boulder, rubble, gravel, and sand with lesser amounts of silt and detritus. Bank cover was composed of firm pasture, shrub marsh, meadow pasture and upland hardwood. In-stream fish cover was found throughout the stream and consisted of wing deflectors, LUNKER structures, boulders, aquatic vegetation beds, and log tangles. Fishery population surveys conducted in the 1980's and 1990's documented a healthy, naturally reproducing brown trout population along with a variety of forage fish.

In 1955, the Wisconsin Conservation Department (now the WDNR) initiated a fishery habitat demonstration project along Bohemian Valley, Timber Coulee and Rullands Coulee Creeks. The purpose of this project was to develop and perfect in-stream habitat restoration techniques. This pioneering project resulted in restoration methods that are still used today in coulee region streams.

Perpetual fish management easements were purchased by the WDNR, as recommended in the Coon Creek Fishery Area Master Plan, from Korn Springs in Monroe County downstream to the Vernon and La Crosse County line. Protection easements were also purchased on most of the major springs entering Bohemian Valley Creek. This stream has not been stocked since 1996. Access to the stream is possible from three road crossings and WDNR easements.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist