Pigeon River, Pigeon River Watershed (SH06)
Pigeon River, Pigeon River Watershed (SH06)
Pigeon River (62300)
18.10 Miles
0 - 18.10
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.
Cool-Warm Mainstem, Cool-Warm Headwater
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.
2019
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Impairment Unknown
Total Phosphorus
 
Manitowoc, Sheboygan
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.
No
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.
No
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.
Yes

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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.

Overview

PIGEON RIVER - OVERVIEW
T15N R23E Sec. 18 **9** Stream Length = 30.0 miles

The Pigeon River originates from a spring fed tributary in an area dominated by wetlands and woodlots in southern Manitowoc County. The Pigeon River flows south into Sheboygan County, through Howards Grove and then turn east to a confluence with Lake Michigan on the north side of Sheboygan. The land use is dominated by agricultural uses, with urban influences in Howards Grove and near the mouth of the river in Sheboygan.
PIGEON RIVER DOWNSTREAM OF THE CONFLUENCE WITH MEEME RIVER (RM 0-18.1)

Water quality in this reach, which extends from the mouth to the confluence with the Meeme River, is fair. Agriculture is the dominant land use in the areas upstream of Howards Grove and watershed becomes increasingly urbanized downstream to the city of Sheboygan. The fishery consists of northern pike, rock bass, black crappie, common shiner, bluntnose minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, creek chub, and white sucker (Fago, 1985). Trout and salmon from Lake Michigan are also found in the stream during their seasonal spawning runs.

Macroinvertebrate samples collected during 1996 had HBI ratings indicating fair water quality. The stream has been historically channelized in the agricultural areas, but currently has a fairly good stream buffer in many sections. The problems in this river reach include barnyard runoff, cropland runoff, stream bank pasturing, construction site erosion, streambank erosion, stormwater runoff, and point source effluent.

WDNR personnel surveyed two sites on this reach of the Pigeon River in July 2000. The first site was located upstram of State Highway 42 in the Village of Howards Grove and the second site was within the boundaries of the Maywood Environmental Park in the City of Sheboygan. The Howards Grove site is within a residential area and the Maywood site is within a natural park cooridor that consists of woods and wetlands.

Fish communities rated excellent for both the Howards Grove and Maywood sites. Fish species are listed in Table 61. Stream habitat analysis for the Howards Grove site showed limited streambank erosion; moderate buffer areas and limited shading; bottom substrate of mainly sand and gravel; and limited fish cover. Habitat improvements in this area would improve the fish cover and abundance of fish. The WDNR did install LUNKER type fish habitat structures at this site and is described in more detail below. Stream habitat analysis for the Maywood site showed limited streambank erosion; excellent buffer areas and limited shading; bottom substrate of rock, gravel, and sand; and good fish cover.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Pigeon River Watershed Mussel Distribution Surveys

Qualitative mussel surveys were conducted in 1997 throughout the Pigeon River Watershed using both the inventory method and incremental collection method. The inventory method was conducted at nearly all bridge crossings and varies from brief collection efforts to one-hour surveys. The incremental collection method was conducted at eleven sights longitudinally from the headwater reaches down to near the mouth of the river. The incremental collection method for mussels is done by collecting a specific number of mussels after the last "new" species is collected. For example, twenty mussels were collected during a sample run, then those are identified. Sampling runs would continue until 100 mussels are collected without identifying a species that had not already been collected. Live mussels were collected by hand, identified and returned to the stream. Dead mussels (i.e. relict shells) were collected of species from which live organisms weren't found. Live environmentally sensitive mussel species (Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern) were measured and aged then returned. Furthermore, a reference collection of shells was made to be used for educational benefits and to aid in future mussel identifications. The non-environmentally sensitive mussel species collected at each incremental collection site are identified below. Two environmentally sensitive species were collected in the Pigeon River watershed as part of the incremental and inventory collections. The locations of these collections are reported by subwatershed (Table 75).

The mussel survey was determined to be very useful for assessing the overall water quality by involving another aquatic organism that is relatively immobile, long-lived, and dependent on host species. Furthermore, it is beneficial to identify unique resources that have existing populations of environmentally sensitive species. Based on the experience of the mussel surveys conducted as part of the Pigeon River IEM project (WDNR 1999), mussel surveys are being incorporated into our "routine" water quality monitoring to the extent possible (pers. comm.Galarneau).

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Installation of Streambank Stabilization Structures

The purpose of this project is to control streambank erosion and develop fish habitat in selected sections of the Pigeon River (Nelson 1998b). The Pigeon River is a warmwater fishery stream that also receives seasonal runs of anadromous fish from Lake Michigan. The fish include salmonids, northern pike, white suckers and longnose suckers. The watershed has been identified as a priority watershed that will be funded in 1998 and beyond. Streambank erosion is severe at the two proposed sites. At the Farmer’s and Sportsman’s Club site alone, 325 feet of eroding bank loses 53.4 tons of soil each year. Fish habitat is poor due to the eroding banks.

During the summer of 1998, we plan to install LUNKER type fish habitat structures, place rip rap and grade banks to eliminate these erosion sources and to provide bank cover. We plan to install at least 325 feet of structure at the Farmer’s and Sportsman’s Club and at least 500 feet of structures at Howard’s Grove municipal park. This work will take place during the growing season (May 1st to September 15th) in 1999 so vegetation becomes established on graded banks. These sites will be accessible to the public and will receive heavy fishing use. Erosion control will be very significant as demonstrated at a downstream site on the Pigeon River where such work was completed several years before.
PIGEON RIVER UPSTREAM OF THE CONFLUENCE WITH MEEME RIVER (RM 18.1-30.0)

This segment extends from the Meeme River confluence upstream to the headwaters area. Agricultural pollution is the major limiting factor in this segment. The stream is flashy because of the extensive wetland drainage and channel modification. The only point source discharging to this segment is the Howards Grove wastewater treatment plant.

Water quality is characterized as fair. There is good diversity of fish species for a headwaters reach, which indicates that a good variety of habitat exists in this segment. The fish species include common shiner, creek chub, white sucker, central mudminnow, fathead minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, pearl dace, black bullhead, black crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, johnny darter, sand shiner, brook stickleback and largemouth bass (Aartila 1997). Macroinvertebrate samples collected in 1996 have HBI ratings that indicate good to fair water quality rating. Cropland and barnyard runoff, bank erosion, channelization and wetland drainage are limiting the Pigeon River water quality in this reach (Aartila 1997).

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

PIGEON RIVER - OVERVIEW - T15N R23E Sec. 18, Stream Length = 30.0 miles.
The Pigeon River originates from a spring fed tributary in an area dominated by wetlands and woodlots in southern Manitowoc County. The Pigeon River flows south into Sheboygan County, through Howards Grove and then turn east to a confluence with Lake Michigan on the north side of Sheboygan. The land use is dominated by agricultural uses, with urban influences in Howards Grove and near the mouth of the river in Sheboygan.

PIGEON RIVER DOWNSTREAM OF THE CONFLUENCE WITH MEEME RIVER (RM 0-18.1) - Water quality in this reach, which extends from the mouth to the confluence with the Meeme River, is fair. Agriculture is the dominant land use in the areas upstream of Howards Grove and watershed becomes increasingly urbanized downstream to the city of Sheboygan. The fishery consists of northern pike, rock bass, black crappie, common shiner, bluntnose minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, creek chub, and white sucker (Fago, 1985). Trout and salmon from Lake Michigan are also found in the stream during their seasonal spawning runs.

Macroinvertebrate samples collected during 1996 had Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) ratings indicating fair water quality. The stream has been historically channelized in the agricultural areas, but currently has a fairly good stream buffer in many sections. The problems in this river reach include barnyard runoff, cropland runoff, stream bank pasturing, construction site erosion, streambank erosion, stormwater runoff, and point source effluent.

Installation of Streambank Stabilization Structures - The purpose of this project is to control streambank erosion and develop fish habitat in selected sections of the Pigeon River (Nelson 1998b). The Pigeon River is a warmwater fishery stream that also receives seasonal runs of anadromous fish from Lake Michigan. The fish include salmonids, northern pike, white suckers and longnose suckers. The watershed has been identified as a priority watershed that will be funded in 1998 and beyond. Streambank erosion is severe at the two proposed sites. At the Farmer’s and Sportsman’s Club site alone, 325 feet of eroding bank loses 53.4 tons of soil each year. Fish habitat is poor due to the eroding banks.

During the summer of 1998, we plan to install LUNKER type fish habitat structures, place rip rap and grade banks to eliminate these erosion sources and to provide bank cover. We plan to install at least 325 feet of structure at the Farmer’s and Sportsman’s Club and at least 500 feet of structures at Howard’s Grove municipal park. This work will take place during the growing season (May 1st to September 15th) in 1999 so vegetation becomes established on graded banks. These sites will be accessible to the public and will receive heavy fishing use. Erosion control will be very significant as demonstrated at a downstream site on the Pigeon River where such work was completed several years before.

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

PIGEON RIVER UPSTREAM OF THE CONFLUENCE WITH MEEME RIVER (RM 18.1-30.0) - This segment extends from the Meeme River confluence upstream to the headwaters area. Agricultural pollution is the major limiting factor in this segment. The stream is flashy because of the extensive wetland drainage and channel modification. The only point source discharging to this segment is the Howards Grove wastewater treatment plant.

Water quality is characterized as fair. There is good diversity of fish species for a headwaters reach, which indicates that a good variety of habitat exists in this segment. The fish species include common shiner, creek chub, white sucker, central mudminnow, fathead minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, pearl dace, black bullhead, black crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, johnny darter, sand shiner, brook stickleback and largemouth bass (Aartila 1997). Macroinvertebrate samples collected in 1996 have Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) ratings that indicate good to fair water quality rating. Cropland and barnyard runoff, bank erosion, channelization and wetland drainage are limiting the Pigeon River water quality in this reach (Aartila 1997).

Pigeon River Watershed Mussel Distribution Surveys - Qualitative mussel surveys were conducted in 1997 throughout the Pigeon River Watershed using both the inventory method and incremental collection method. Live mussels were collected by hand, identified and returned to the stream. Dead mussels (i.e. relict shells) were collected of species from which live organisms weren't found. Live environmentally sensitive mussel species (Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern) were measured and aged then returned. Furthermore, a reference collection of shells was made to be used for educational benefits and to aid in future mussel identifications. Two environmentally sensitive species were collected in the Pigeon River watershed as part of the incremental and inventory collections.

The mussel survey was determined to be very useful for assessing the overall water quality by involving another aquatic organism that is relatively immobile, long-lived, and dependent on host species. Furthermore, it is beneficial to identify unique resources that have existing populations of environmentally sensitive species. Based on the experience of the mussel surveys conducted as part of the Pigeon River IEM project (WDNR 1999), mussel surveys are being incorporated into our "routine" water quality monitoring to the extent possible (pers. comm.Galarneau).

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Pigeon River, Pigeon River Watershed (SH06) Fish and Aquatic LifePigeon River, Pigeon River Watershed (SH06) RecreationPigeon River, Pigeon River Watershed (SH06) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Pigeon River (62300) from its mouth to Meeme River was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). This water was also assessed for chlorides and sample data did not exceed 2016 WisCALM chronic and acute listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

Condition

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.

Reports

Recommendations

Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Educate and engage residents
This grant is for the "Testing the Waters" program that is coordinated by the Sheboygan School District. The purpose of the project is to involve high school students in collection and analyzing water quality data from several stream locations within the Sheboygan River Basin. Students and teachers learn important lessons about river ecology and impacts of pollution as part of this project. The goal of this organization is to assist the "Testing the Waters" Program and as a result enhance the membership and organizational effectiveness of their River Management Organization. Teachers and students will interpret and report water quality datat ata an annual public forum. The grant will help fund the program for three years.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
Water quality biologists should continue to work with the Pigeon River Water Action Volunteers in conducting water quality monitoring throughout the Pigeon River Watershed.
Monitor to Evaluate Projects
Conduct monitoring on the Pigeon River to determine if it should be listed on the Impaired Waters List

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

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

Pigeon River is located in the Pigeon River watershed which is 78.87 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (57.30%), grassland (18.60%) and a mix of forest (10.20%) and other uses (13.90%). This watershed has 110.34 stream miles, 769.54 lake acres and 3,149.60 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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

Pigeon River is considered a Cool-Warm Mainstem, Cool-Warm Headwater 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.

Cool (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

Fish Stocking
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