Fish and Aquatic Life
Eau Claire Lake, Upper, in the Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers Watershed, is a 1,024.41 acre lake that falls in Bayfield County. This lake is an outstanding/exceptional resource water under NR102 under the Fisheries Program. This lake is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
The three major lakes of this chain are the Upper, Middle and Lower Eau Claire Lakes.
Situated at the headwaters of the Eau Ciaire River these lakes have been long recognized as
outstanding, and indeed have been formally recognized as such by their nomination as
"Outstanding Resource Waters." These clear water lakes are connected by stream and the
middle and lower lakes are connected by a navigable channel with an assist from a mechanical
small boat lock.
There appears to be a slight decline in water quality down this chain with the Upper Lake
exhibiting oligotrophic characteristics and the Middle and Lower Lakes showing signs of perhaps
increasing levels of fertility. Because of this perception, the Upper and Lower Lakes were
chosen to be monitored as part of the Department's long term trend monitoring program.
Intensive monitoring has been ongoing on these lakes since 1986.
A self-help volunteer has been collecting water clarity data on the Middle Lake since 1988 and
volunteers on the Upper and Lower Lakes would be desireable to supplement the Department's
long term data. The lakes are represented by a regional association and this group has been an
enthusiastic participant in early lake management endeavors. "Swimmers itch," an infestation of
the "rusty" crayfish and lake water use conflicts are some of the problems confronting these
The preservation of the present high level of water quality and the development of
comprehensive long range lake management plans should be goals for this chain of lakes.
These three ORW nominated lakes should be considered as priority candidates for a protection
oriented Priority Lakes project.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Upper Eau Claire Lake was evaluated for chloride in 2014 and levels were not too high. Upper Eau Claire Lake was evaluated for phosphorus and algae every two years between 2016 and 2022. Phosphorus levels were found to be too high.
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.
Lake Management Plan Development
In combination with two other planning grant applications for Middle and Lower Lake Eau Claire, the Town of Barnes proposes to develop a management plan for the lake system that integrates with the town comprehensive land use plan. The scope includes an investigation of shoreland buffer areas and recommend best management practices, review of town and county ordinances with recommendations for revisions, delineation and digital mapping of the lake watershed, watershed modeling, compilation of existing water quality and environmental information about the lakes, conducting and analyzing a social survey.
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
|Project Name (Click for Details)||Year Started|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Eau Claire Lakes Management Plan - Upper Eau Claire||2004|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Barnes Eurasian Water Milfoil 2005 Project||2005|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Aquatic Species Established Population Control||2021|
|BARNES/EAU CLAIRE LAKES AREA PROPERTY OWNERS: Lake Eco Education Program||2013|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Eau Claire Lakes-Barnes Area AIS Education, Prevention, & Planning Project 2007-2008||2007|
|BARNES/EAU CLAIRE LAKES AREA PROPERTY OWNERS: ECO Education/Pontoon Classroom||2010|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Upper Eau Claire Lake CLP Early Detection/Response 2012-2016||2012|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Town of Barnes 2020 CBCW||2020|
|BARNES/EAU CLAIRE LAKES AREA PROPERTY OWNERS: Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring on the Barnes Area/Eau Claire Chain of Lakes||2008|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Barnes Area Lakes, Eau Claire Chain of Lakes Education, Prevention & Containment 2011-2013 Project||2010|
|BARNES/EAU CLAIRE LAKES AREA PROPERTY OWNERS: HLR - Eau Claire Lakes Area Healthy Lakes & Rivers||2021|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Town of Barnes 2015 Clean Boats Clean Waters Project||2015|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Barnes 2017 Upper, Middle, Lower Eau Clarie, Robinson, Island/Tomahawk Lks CBCW||2017|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Barnes 2019 CBCW||2019|
|Fish Propagation Actions||2001|
|TOWN OF BARNES: Upper, Middle and Lower Eau Claire, Robinson and Island Clean Boats Clean Waters Project 2014||2013|
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||10055143||Upper Eau Claire Lake (Dam) - Staff Gage||5/16/2021||6/20/2022||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||10029003||Eau Claire River at Outlet Bay Rd||3/3/2008||9/10/2016||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||10038566||Eau Claire River at Hwy 27 (EC05)||5/24/2007||5/24/2007||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||043184||Upper Eau Claire - Lake Road||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||043129||Upper Eau Claire Lake - Deep Hole||7/11/1973||5/30/2022||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||10019213||Upper Eau Claire Lake -- Access at Peninsula Road||5/16/2004||5/30/2022||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||043190||Upper Eau Claire - S. Point||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||10055144||Upper Eau Claire Lake (Lake Rd) - Staff Gage||5/16/2021||6/16/2022||Map||Data|
|2742700||Upper Eau Claire Lake||10000868||Upper Eau Claire Lake||9/5/2000||9/12/2017||Map||Data|
Upper Eau Claire Lake is located in the Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers watershed which is 277.89 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (83.90%), wetland (9.50%) and a mix of open (4.30%) and other uses (2.40%). This watershed has 153.93 stream miles, 7,654.41 lake acres and 13,694.48 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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.This water is ranked High Lake for individual Lakes based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.