Fish and Aquatic Life
The 20-mile upper reach from just north of its headwaters in Black Lake on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border down to Interfalls Lake in Pattison State Park is classified as a Class III trout stream with numerous brook trout and a brown trout presence. The upper reaches of the river flow through relatively flat plain of clay and glacial stream deposits with numerous wetlands that stain the river dark before it passes over Little Manitou Falls, a 30-foot escarpment to Interfalls Lake. Downstream of the lake, the river plunges over the Superior Escarpment at Big Manitou Falls. At 165 feet, this is the highest waterfall in the state and ends the trout portion of the river. Downstream of the falls, a few game fish are found as the river continues until it empties into the Nemadji. Burbot run up the river in winter to spawn. Stream bottom types range from sand and muck in the upper reaches, gravel and boulders in the middle reaches and silt and clay below the falls.
Pattison State Park discharges treated wastewater from an outfall at T47N R14W S21 NESE, which then flows to the Black River. This tributary has been proposed for classification as supporting limited aquatic life, to be listed in the update of NR104.
During survey work conducted as part of the coastal wetlands evaluation, two rare species of macroinvertebrate were found in the river and the overall taxa richness was high (25 or more species). The survey identified impoundment and low flows as factors potentially affecting water quality. Significant filamentous algae, and to a lesser extent slime and aquatic plants were present. (Epstein 1997).
From: Turville-Heitz, Meg. 1999. Lake Superior Basin Water Quality Management Plan. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Monitor Targeted Watershed Area (TWA)
The Black River and Little Black River in Douglas County will be monitored to further document their high quality. The watershed is 94.4% undeveloped. Pattison State Park and Pattison Falls, Wisconsin's highest waterfall are located on the river. Three sites on the Black River and one site on the Little Black River have excellent IBI's for both fish and macroinvertebrate communities. They appear to be excellent candidates for applying the proposed protection tier for tiered aquatic life uses (TALU). HUC12s include 040103010302, 040103010303, 040103010304.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lower Black River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Lower Black River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Lower Black River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for Lower Black River and its tributaries. 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 Black River Priority Watershed Project area.
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|
Black River is located in the Black and Upper Nemadji River watershed which is 125.62 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (62%), wetland (30.30%) and a mix of grassland (6.10%) and other uses (1.60%). This watershed has 254.49 stream miles, 219.11 lake acres and 19,504.82 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.