Bear Lake (T36N R12W S2), Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10)
Bear Lake (T36N R12W S2), Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10)
Bear Lake (T36N R12W S2) (2105100)
1347.76 Acres
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.
This lake is impaired
Excess Algal Growth, Eutrophication
Total Phosphorus
Barron, Washburn
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.
Shallow headwater lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.
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.
Supported Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.


Bear Lake is a 1,358-acre drainage lake just north of Haugen. The Bear Lake State Wildlife Area is on the northwest shore of Bear Lake. Ths high quality aquatic resource has been classified as an outstanding resource water under the provisions of Chapter NR 102.10 of the Wis. Adm. Code. The Bear Lake Association was awarded a lake management planning grant in 1991 to conduct a study that included water quality monitoring, a survey of aquatic vegetation, watershed land use delineation and a public opinion survey. Preliminary results of the study indicate Bear Lake has good water quality with Trophic State Index values in the range of 50. A volunteer has been collecting water clarity data onBear Lake since 1986 under the self-help lake
monitoring program. Fish tissue analysis for mercury resulted in a fish consumption advisory for walleye in the range of 18 to 22 inches (Category 2). The lake is susceptible to any increase in phosphorus loading and is a hgh priority for protection management.

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1964, Surface Water Resources of Barron County Bear Lake T36, 37N, R12, IIW, Sections several

A hard water drainage lake with an outlet, Bear Creek, having a 13 -foot water control structure on it controlled by the Northern States Power Company. Bear Lake also lies partly in Washburn County. The most common fish species include walleyes, northern pike, largemouth bass perch, bluegills, black crappies, rock bass, pumpkin seeds, yellow bullheads and suckers. Other species present include smallmouth bass, redhorse and bullhead. About 875 acres of predominantly tamarack swamp and leatherleaf bog adjoin the lake. These and other marshy wetlands provide habitat for muskrats, beaver, nesting puddle ducks, mergansers, coot and loon. Larger numbers of diving ducks, coots and Canada geese along with puddle ducks use the lake during migratory season. Private and commercial development numbers six resorts, three boat rental places, 102 cottages and a Boy Scout Camp of the Chippewa Valley Council. There are nine town and county access roads on the lake and additional public frontage is owned by Barron and Washburn Counties, partly in County Forest, for a total of 2.13 miles of public frontage. The majority of the lakeshore frontage is covered by upland hardwood vegetation.

Surface Acres = 1,345.0, S.D.F. = 2.58, Maximum Depth = 100 feet

Date  1964

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Bear Lake (T36N R12W S2), Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) Fish and Aquatic LifeBear Lake (T36N R12W S2), Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) RecreationBear Lake (T36N R12W S2), Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Bear Lake (WBIC 2105100) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2014. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use, however chlorophyll-a sample data did not exceed the REC or FAL use thresholds. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Bear Lake (2105100) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2014. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, chlorophyll data only exceeded FAL thresholds. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson


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.


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

Bear Lake is located in the Brill and Red Cedar Rivers watershed which is 297.68 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (49.40%), agricultural (20.30%) and a mix of grassland (10.70%) and other uses (19.60%). This watershed has 264.90 stream miles, 6,282.34 lake acres and 15,832.05 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Medium 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.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

Bear Lake (T36N R12W S2) is considered a Two-Story 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.

Shallow headwater lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.