Fish and Aquatic Life
The West Fork of the Chippewa River originates in Bayfield County, the East Fork originates in central Iron County. Both rivers flow southwesterly through Ashland and Sawyer counties until they join at the Chippewa Flowage, a reservoir formed by the Winter Dam.
The West Fork supports one reservoir upstream of the Chippewa Flowage - Moose Lake, a water storage impoundment with a thirteen foot head dam. The East Fork supports hydropower upstream of its confluence with the West Fork; the North Central Power Company dam generates electricity at Snaptail Rapids.
Both the East and West Forks were evaluated for in-stream habitat using the Wisconsin Warm Water Physical Habitat Rating System. The West Fork has a rating of "excellent", the East Fork rates between "good" and "excellent" (Kanehl and Lyons, 1990).
Larson, Nancy and Lisa Kosmond (Helmuth). 1996. Upper Chippewa River Basin Water Quality Management Plan.
PUBL-WR-345-96-REV. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Aquatic Biologist
The West Fork of the Chippewa River is a low gradient, warm water river that originates
from the outlet of Chippewa Lake in southeastern Bayfleld County. It then flows
southeast into Ashland County where it turns and flows southwest through much of
Sawyer County before emptying into the Chippewa Flowage. The river flows through Day
and Upper Clam Lakes in Ashland County, and Lower Clam, Cattail, Meadow, Partridge
Crop, and Moose Lakes in Sawyer County. Moose Lake is a water storage impoundment
of the West Fork with a 13-foot head dam.
The predominant fisheries on the West Fork of the Chippewa are walleye, small mouth
bass, and muskellunge (District Fisheries Management) The river has a high potential
for endangered resource occurrences but no aquatic inventories have been conducted.
Author Aquatic Biologist
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|
|2429800||Unnamed||10000601||Unnamed Lake (T43 R4W S32)||8/29/2000||7/3/2011||Map||Data|
|2414500||West Fork Chippewa River||10022153||West Fork Chippewa River 18m Downstream Of Sth 77||10/31/2007||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2414500||West Fork Chippewa River||10012865||West Fork Chippewa River 320 M Downstream Of Sth 77||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2414500||West Fork Chippewa River||10032747||West Fork Chippewa River at Hwy GG||Map||Data|
|2414500||West Fork Chippewa River||023120||Chippewa River West Fork - W. Fork Of Chippewa R. At Hwy 77||11/13/1973||10/23/1974||Map||Data|
West Fork Chippewa River is located in the West Fork Chippewa River watershed which is 284.78 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (62%), wetland (33.60%) and a mix of open (4.30%) and other uses (0%). This watershed has 256.71 stream miles, 6,208.10 lake acres and 60,035.54 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Low 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.