Little Wolf River, Lower Little Wolf River,South Branch Little Wolf River Watershed (WR06, WR08)
Little Wolf River, Lower Little Wolf River,South Branch Little Wolf River Watershed (WR06, WR08)
Little Wolf River (272400)
5.26 Miles
8.76 - 14.02
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.
No Classification, Cool-Warm Mainstem
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.
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent sport fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent sport fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.


About nine miles of the Little Wolf River flows through the Lower Wolf River watershed (WR04), the portion from its mouth at the Wolf River, to the mouth of the South Branch Little Wolf River. A low gradient stream, it passes through primarily farmland. The Little Wolf's fishery is similar to the Wolf River, with diverse warm water fish and rough fish. DNR fisheries personnel have created a master plan for the Little Wolf River.

Very little water quality information is available on the stretch of the Little Wolf River in the Lower Little Wolf River watershed (WR06). The Little Wolf River from the junction with the Wolf River upstream to Manawa Dam is designated an Exceptional Resouce Water per Chapter NR 102, Wisconsin Administrative Code.

In the Upper Little Wolf River watershed (WR07), different portions of the Little Wolf River are classified as a warmwater sport fishery and Class I and II trout waters. Stream habitat evaluations were conducted at seven locations during summer/fall of 1993 (WDNR, 1995). Instream habitat ranged from excellent to good to fair. Instream habitat was fair downstream of Highway VV and above Franzen Road due to streambank pasturing and cropland runoff (erosion channels).

From: Bougie, Cheryl A., Kosmond, Lisa D, and Watermolen, Dreux J. 1996. Wolf River Basin Water Quality Management Plan. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1996

Author  Cheryl Bougie

Little Wolf River, Lower Little Wolf River,South Branch Little Wolf River Watershed (WR06, WR08) Fish and Aquatic LifeLittle Wolf River, Lower Little Wolf River,South Branch Little Wolf River Watershed (WR06, WR08) RecreationLittle Wolf River, Lower Little Wolf River,South Branch Little Wolf River Watershed (WR06, WR08) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Little Wolf River was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus, biological (macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores), and sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

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.



Watershed Mapping or Assessment
Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust (NEWLT) will oversee the Little Wolf Headwaters Community Initiative in a continued effort to protect and restore the resources within the Upper Little Wolf and South Branch of the Little Wolf Rivers in Waupaca and Portage Counties. Project goals and objectives include identify, cultivate and respond to conservation opportunities; encourage a locus of integrated resource inventory, protection, restoration, monitoring and management activities, cultivate conservation easements and other permanent protection strategies on priority riparian lands, initiate a land registry program, connect land registry participants with resource professionals, support development of a conservation buyer program. Results will be publicized through meetings of the Community Conservation Partnership, quarterly updates in NEWLT's newsletter, and through local media. A summary report will be written and copies provided to the Planning Partners, the Department of Natural Resources River Protection Program, all other major funders and those who request copies.
Partnership Project
Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust (NEWLT) proposes to build a partnership to protect and restore critical resources of the Little Wolf River Headwaters Ecosystem of Waupaca and eastern Portage Counties in collaboration with other organizations, individuals, government units and agencies. They will employ the land protection tools developed by NEWLT to secure permanent protections of, and improvements to, water quality in the Little Wolf River. They will develop a community-based approach to river protection through critical land protection. Specifically, NEWLT will: 1.) Develop partnerships and capacity through a collaborative, community-based approach to resource conservation, 2.) Develop a plan for protection of critical land in the project area, 3.) Develop, produce and use outreach materials and methods to support the goals of the project, and 4.) Raise funds for implementation of land protection plan.
Water Quality Planning
Waupaca County proposes to conduct a Water Quality Evaluation of the Lower Little Wolf River. Project deliverables will include water sampling, collect precip data and base flow water samples at 13 separate sites to determine if water quality problems are related to groundwater or runoff issues; analyse and interpret data collected in a final report; conduct public meetings to summarize water quality data, give a watershed status report and seek public interest in forming a river group.
Monitor Targeted Area
Collect surface water samples throughout the Wolf River Basin to be analyzed for total P, dissolved P and TSS for TMDL development. Wolf River Basin including: the Wolf River (241300), Little Wolf River (272400), Waupaca (257400) and Embarrass River (291900), and the Outlet of Lake Winnebago (117900-LFR)
Monitor Targeted Watershed Area (TWA)
This project will evaluate water quality improvements made in the Lower Little Wolf River Watershed from Best Management Practices installed in the watershed from 1997 through 2008 as part of the Lower Little Wolf River Priority Watershed Project. [TWA HUC10-0403020217]. Monitoring will be conducted in 9 WBICs: 279600, 280100, 272400, 280700, 280900, 283000, 283100, 283400, 284900.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lower Little Wolf River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Lower Little Wolf River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Lower Little Wolf River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for Lower Little Wolf River. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of pollutants originating from nonpoint sources that reach surface water and groundwater within the Lower Little Wolf River Priority Watershed Project area.

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

Little Wolf River is located in the Lower Little Wolf River watershed which is 153.60 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (33.10%), forest (28.50%) and a mix of wetland (22.20%) and other uses (16.20%). This watershed has 189.20 stream miles, 1,038.51 lake acres and 21,932.16 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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

Little Wolf River is considered a No Classification, Cool-Warm Mainstem 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.