Fish and Aquatic Life
The East Fork of the Chippewa River originates in west central Iron County, meanders in southwesterly across Ashland County. and empties into the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County. The river flows through sLu lakes: Sells, Pelican, and Bear Lakes in Ashland County: and Barker, Hunter, and Blaisdell Lakes in Sawyer County.
The dam at Snaptail Rapids near Winter may be degrading the fishery in the East Fork of the Chippewa (Pratt 1993). The headwaters of the river, from Iron County through Sells Lake in Ashland County, are listed as Class 11 and III trout waters where brook and brown trout are the major species. Below this, the river becomes a very good warm water sports fishery supporting muskellunge, walleye and bass.
There is good potential for endangered resource occurrences in the East Fork of the Chippewa, but inventories have not been done. The Bureau of Endangered Resources has applied for federal funds to conduct dragonfly and mussel surveys in this area. Bear Lake has a mercury advisory for walleye, and thus a similar problem may exist for the section of the East Fork of the Chippewa River that flows through this lake.
Author Aquatic Biologist
The East Fork of the Chippewa River originates in central Iron County; the West Fork originates in Bayfleld County. Both rivers flow southwesterly through Ashland and Sawyer counties until they join at the Chippewa Flowage, a reservoir formed by the Winter Dam. Minimal pollutant sources discharge to these Chippewa River headwaters. The East Fork receives municipal wastewater treatment plant discharges at Glidden.
Author Lisa Helmuth
The East Fork of the Chippewa River (miles 32.83-52.23) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus, biological (macroinvertebrate and fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores), and temperature sample data were clearly below 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water is meeting this designated use and is not considered impaired.
The water was assessed during the 2018 assessment cycle and mIBI conditions found to be "excellent". This water was assessed during the 2014 listing cycle; biological sample data (i.e. macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) clearly meet 2014 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use.
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
The Rocky Run Creek East Fork of the Chippewa River and Muskellunge Creek east Fork of the Chippewa River HUC 12 watersheds are listed as healthy but vulnerable watersheds.
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|
East Fork Chippewa River is located in the East Fork Chippewa River watershed which is 305.16 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (63.90%), wetland (32.70%) and a mix of grassland (1.60%) and other uses (1.70%). This watershed has 310.53 stream miles, 2,431.41 lake acres and 65,073.81 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Low 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.