Pammel Creek, Lower La Crosse River Watershed (BL04)
Pammel Creek, Lower La Crosse River Watershed (BL04)
Pammel Creek (1649200)
1.58 Miles
4.25 - 5.83
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.
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.
La Crosse
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.
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.


Pammel Creek, located in southwest La Crosse County, flows for five miles in a westerly direction before reaching the Mississippi River on the south side of La Crosse. This stream has a gradient of 22 feet per mile. Pammel Creek is not a classified trout stream. Pammel Creek flows through some agricultural areas, an expanding rural home setting, a mobile home park, then through the southern portion of the City of La Crosse. Several subdivisions located on nearby hillsides drain their stormwater to Pammel Creek. Frequent flooding of homes adjacent to the creek precipitated a flood control project that resulted in a two mile long concrete lined ditch built in the late 1980's. Above and below the concrete channel, the stream bottom is comprised mainly of sand with small areas of gravel. Once the stream enters the concrete channel, the flow disperses across 15 feet of concrete to a maximum depth of a few inches during normal flow. Any accumulation of sediment in the concrete channel is regularly removed by the City of La Crosse. Due to the lack of habitat and shallow water in the channel, no fish are present. However, a forage fishery likely exists in the stream above the concrete channel and Mississippi River fish frequent the portion of Pammel Creek below the flood control channel.

Water chemistry testing of streams throughout La Crosse County was initiated by the La Crosse County Land Conservation Department in 1998. Baseflow conditions were targeted for testing as the most likely to show normal water quality conditions. Sampling takes place four times annually when no rainfall or snowmelt has occurred during the previous 72 hours. Between 1998 and 2001, Pammel Creek met the county phosphorus goal in nearly 80% and the county fecal coliform bacteria goal in nearly 75% of the samples taken. These data indicate relatively good water quality in Pammel Creek. The county ranks Pammel Creek very low in priority compared to other streams for efforts in reducing phosphorus and bacterial contamination. La Crosse County should continue baseflow sampling of Pammel Creek to determine water quality trends.

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

Pammel Creek, Lower La Crosse River Watershed (BL04) Fish and Aquatic LifePammel Creek, Lower La Crosse River Watershed (BL04) RecreationPammel Creek, Lower La Crosse River Watershed (BL04) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Pammel Creek (WBIC 1649200) just east of Hagen Road to Unnamed Trib (WBIC 5027151) 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


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 Aquatic Biology
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Pammel Creek, WBIC: 1649200, AU:5721751

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

Pammel Creek is located in the Lower La Crosse River watershed which is 145.46 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (42.30%), agricultural (14.80%) and a mix of urban (10.30%) and other uses (32.50%). This watershed has 295.20 stream miles, 1,187.12 lake acres and 5,641.64 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium 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

Pammel Creek is considered a 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.