Tappen Coulee Creek, Middle Trempealeau River Watershed (BT02)
Tappen Coulee Creek, Middle Trempealeau River Watershed (BT02)
Tappen Coulee Creek (1800300)
5.06 Miles
0 - 5.06
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
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
Elevated Water Temperature
Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
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.


Tappen Coulee Creek is a 3.6-mile tributary of the Trempealeau River. The whole creek is listed on the 303(d) list as impacted by sedimentation, elevated temperatures, and loss of instream habitat. The primary sources of the impacts are stream bank pasturing and stream bank erosion. In a 1990 survey (1), the stream had an HBI of 4.48, indicating slight organic pollution, and a "fair" Habitat Rating. The creek is currently a Warm Water Forage Fishery, with a codified use of Cold III. Currently, the stream has little potential to support trout due to inadequate spring flow and excessive water temperatures, but implementation of BMPs in the watershed is expected to restore the stream to its former coldwater Class III status.itId=14

These streams are listed as impaired due to not meeting their potential use classifications primarily from habitat degradation, turbidity or elevated temperatures caused by sediment from cropland and other upland erosion and stream bank erosion. Except for North Creek which is listed as a low priority, these streams are listed as a medium priority on the 1998 303(d) list.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

entire stream (class 3)

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Tappen Coulee Creek, Middle Trempealeau River Watershed (BT02) Fish and Aquatic LifeTappen Coulee Creek, Middle Trempealeau River Watershed (BT02) RecreationTappen Coulee Creek, Middle Trempealeau River Watershed (BT02) 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.



TMDL (USEPA) Approved
TMDL for Tappen Coulee Creek in the Middle Trempealeau River Approval. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) developed six sediment TMDLs for six segments in the Middle Trempealeau River watershed. The TMDLs address the sediment impacts and impairments which were identified on the Wisconsin 1998 303(d) list. The segments were ranked as medium or low priority on the Wisconsin 1998 303(d) list.

Standards Details

This water, from stream - AMPI Blair; "former CW reach" - Jim Talley, Black River Falls

Date  2010

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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

Tappen Coulee Creek is located in the Middle Trempealeau River watershed which is 205.47 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (38.50%), agricultural (31%) and a mix of grassland (21.40%) and other uses (9.00%). This watershed has 489.89 stream miles, 396.56 lake acres and 5,115.26 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

Tappen Coulee Creek is considered a Cool-Cold 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 (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.

Fisheries & Habitat

The stream is classified as a Class III trout stream but has the potential to improve as a trout fishery. The stream is limited by agricultural nonpoint source pollution. It also receives non contact cooling water from the AMPI Blair Cheese Plant. Fisheries Management has received reports that this discharge has occasionally turned the stream a milky color. Recent investigations of the discharge indicate no signs of adverse impacts.

Date  1991

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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