Fish and Aquatic Life
Red Cedar Lake is a 1,841-acre drainage lake located on the Red Cedar River in the northeastern
corner of Barron County. An 11-foot water control structure is located on the outlet of the lake.
Hemlock Lake is a 357-acre drainage lake connected to Red Cedar Lake to the southeast. The water
control structure on the outlet of Red Cedar Lake controls the level of Hemlock Lake. Balsam Lake
is a 295-acre drainage lake connected to Red Cedar Lake and to the north along the course of the
merging Red Cedar River.
The Red Cedar Lakes Association has been awarded a Lake Management Planning Grant to
monitor water quality conditions in Red Cedar, Hemlock ai~d Balsam Lakes. This monitoring
project is ongoing but preliminary results suggest that Red Cedar Lake is a mesotrophc waterbody
with TSI values in the range of 52, and Hemlock Lake appears to be a eutrophic lake with TSI
values in the range of 59. This preliminary data suggests that Balsam Lake may be a low
mesotrophic lake with TSI values in the range of 48.
Fish tissue analysis for mercury contamination has been conducted on Red Cedar Lake and a fish
consumption advisory exists for walleye ranging from 15 to 22 inches (Category 2).
Volunteers have been collecting water clarity information on this lake since 1987 and during 1994
one of the volunteers started collecting phosphorus and chlorophyll g data on Red Cedar and
Hemlock Lakes as part of the TSI level of monitoring under the self-help lake monitoring program.
Red Cedar Lake is a high-quality aquatic resource and has been classified as an outstanding resource
water under the provisions of Chapter NR 102.10 of the Wis. Adm. Code. This high quality lake is
susceptible to any increase in phosphorus loading and should receive a high priority for protection
Author Aquatic Biologist
Source: 1978, Surface Water Resources of Washburn County Balsam Lake, T37N, R1OW, Section 26, 27, 34, 35,
A hardwater, drainage lake located adjacent to the Village of Birchwood. Balsam Lake is between Birch and Red Cedar Lakes on the Red Cedar River headwaters. Besides the flow from Birch Creek,Balsam Lake also receives some spring water flow from the southeast bay. This rather isolated bay is connected to Balsam Lake by a lengthy, four-foot deep channel. Navigation is also possible to Red Cedar Lake by the broad outlet channel that is also four feet deep. The dam on Birch Lake obstructs Birch Creek as a thoroughfare to Birch Lake. The water level of Balsam Lake is affected by the water control structure on Red Cedar Lake and heightens the lake level by about two feet. The estimated normal flow of the Balsam Lake outlet is 40 cubic feet per second. The fishery of Balsam Lake consists of walleyes, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappies, bluegills, rock bass, pumpkinseeds, perch, bullheads, bowfin (dogfish), white suckers, and several minnow species. The lake lies in end moraine glaciation and a deep, elongated basin, making the lakeshore steep and the bottom littoral areas unsorted gravel with some boulder areas. Muck bottom is found near shore by the outlet and over all of the large southeast bay. Marsh shoreline is found along the south end of the bay and along the entire inlet channel but around its main basin, as on the main body of the lake, the shore is upland vegetated with mixed hardwoods and pine. There are no shoal areas in the lake other than the near shore littoral. The southeast bay is rather shallow but has a maximum depth of 25 feet in one small area. Twenty acres of wetlands adjoin the lake, providing nesting habitat for mallards and wood ducks. Other migratory waterfowl and a few furbearing animals are also found here. Public frontage amounts to 0.34 mile, mostly undeveloped platted park land on the east side of the peninsula. Two undeveloped platted accesses are located on the west side of the peninsula and a public access is located at the upper end of the park land. Private development consists of 18 cottages and one boat rental at the north end of the lake.
Surface Acres-295.2, Maximum Depth-49 feet, M.P.A.-72 ppm, Secchi Disk-9 feet
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Balsam Lake (WBIC 2112800) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2016. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use. Chlorophyll-a sample data clearly exceeded the REC and FAL use thresholds. Based on the most updated information the impairments of Excess Algal Growth and Eutrophication were added to the Total Phosphorus listing.
Author Ashley Beranek
This water was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use, however chlorophyll data do not exceed REC or FAL thresholds.
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.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||663165||Unnamed (Mud Lake) (Off Balsam Lake) - Deep Hole||8/26/2003||7/15/2007||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052473||Balsam Lake - CT-3||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052476||Balsam Lake - CT-6||5/29/2019||5/30/2019||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10018255||Balsam Lake -- Access Nr The End Of Balsam Lake Rd||8/10/2004||8/17/2019||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||663045||Balsam Lake - Deep Hole Near Birchwood WI||5/11/1993||8/25/2019||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||663150||Balsam Lake - Deep Hole - North End||8/26/2003||8/20/2009||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052417||Balsam Lake at State Trail - HWY 48||5/11/2019||8/17/2019||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052474||Balsam Lake - CT-4||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052475||Balsam Lake - CT-5||5/29/2019||5/30/2019||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10006715||Balsam Lake||10/5/1994||11/20/2017||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052471||Balsam Lake - CT-1||5/29/2019||5/30/2019||Map||Data|
|2112800||Balsam Lake||10052472||Balsam Lake - CT-2||5/29/2019||6/3/2019||Map||Data|
Balsam Lake is located in the Red Cedar Lake watershed which is 140.01 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (74%), wetland (11.20%) and a mix of open (7.40%) and other uses (7.40%). This watershed has 167.65 stream miles, 6,893.24 lake acres and 7,428.58 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, Medium 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.