Fish and Aquatic Life
Door Creek, a tributary to the Yahara River entering at Lake Kegonsa, begins as a small stream in the southeast corner of the Town of Burke, and flows south 12.7 miles to Lake Kegonsa. Door Creek and its tributaries drain 29.5 square miles of rolling agricultural land in the drumlin-marsh area of eastern Dane County. It has a gradient of 2.4 feet/mile and surface area of 12.3 acres.
Door Creek is a relatively sluggish stream subject to high temperatures and low flow. Formerly, wastewater from the sewage lagoon in Cottage Grove entered through a small tributary. In 1982 the sewage was re-directed to MMSD. Compared to predevelopment conditions, groundwater discharge to Door Creek has been reduced an estimated 28% due to area wide pumping and wastewater diversion.
Door Creek enters on the north shore of Lake Kegonsa and has been channelized and ditched along its entire length. Soil loss in the watershed from cropland erosion is high and the stream bottom is covered with silt. This sedimentation decreases the amount of adequate aquatic habitat, increases the turbidity of the water and affects the creek s temperature. In addition, large portions of the adjacent wetlands have been drained. Much of Door Creek has been straightened and ditched to facilitate drainage and provide more agricultural land. Drainage projects date back to 1919 when the Door Creek Drainage District was organized. At that time about 5,000 acres of wetland were reportedly too wet for agricultural use. By the late 1950s, only 1,280 acres of wetland remained in the Door Creek watershed. Due to continued draining, only about 800 acres remain. A large, shallow marsh near the mouth of the stream, however, provides excellent northern pike spawning grounds. Waterfowl and upland game birds also use the area. Water quality in the stream is poor and some stretches have 4-6 feet of silt under 2 feet of water. Drainage of wetlands and poor soil conservation practices within the watershed contributes to high phosphorous and inorganic nitrogen loading from Door Creek to Lake Kegonsa.
Door Creek s physical characteristics and low flow limit the fishery to forage species. The most common fish species include common and spotfin shiner, mud minnow, bluntnose minnow, creek chub, white sucker, black bullhead, brook stickleback, bluegill, and johnny darter. Water quality improvements have been documented and the stream should be upgraded to a warm water forage fishery or warm water sport fishery.
Author Aquatic Biologist
The Door Creek Wetlands are a shallow marsh with stands of cattail, which sits on a major peat deposit of the Yahara River Valley. The north end of the peat deposit is drier than the southern area, with sedge meadow and shrubs. Peat disturbance caused primarily by changes to Door Creek s course for agricultural purposes has a major nutrient impact on the Yahara River. This high quality wetland complex at the mouth of Door Creek provides excellent habitat for northern pike spawning and sandhill crane nesting; the cranes are expanding their range into the area.
The largest threats to the wetland complex are the rapid growth of the Cottage Grove area, development and changes to areas along Door Creek, and the impacts of the drainage district upstream of the wetland complex. The upper reaches of Door Creek have been ditched and farmed extensively. Tile drains and channelization of the creek through the wetland has impaired the wetlands functional values. Door Creek s ditched water course is lined with dense and disturbance vegetation, reducing its filtering ability. Therefore, nutrient and sediment input into Lake Kegonsa is very high from this source.
In its channeled condition, Door Creek provides access to important spawning areas in the wetlands, especially in the extreme southern part where the ditch has collapsed. In other areas of the wetland the reproductive potential is significantly limited by the ditch, especially in the spring when the floodwaters subside and the small fry become trapped behind the berms lining the ditch. The natural reproduction of northern pike in Door Creek and Lake Kegonsa could be substantially improved by providing more access into the interior marsh areas through lateral connections with the ditch.
In 1992 the Friends of Lake Kegonsa (FOLKS) received a Lake Planning Grant from DNR. The resulting report examined the existing condition of the Door Creek wetlands at the mouth of the stream and looked at sediment loading rates, peak flow hydrographs, and channel morphology of the stream through the wetlands. The report concluded the wetland had several outstanding features:
h An extensive, relatively diverse vegetation base that supports a wide array of associated wildlife
h A streamside location with marsh edges and openings that provide important spawning habitat for game and forage fishes. A lakeside location that offers aesthetic and recreational resources for residents and visitors to enjoy
The report also recommended against using the wetland as a sediment trap due to the detrimental effect on the existing wetland ecosystem. The report identified a number of best management practices (BMPs) to control sediment in the Door Creek sub-watershed (Mead & Hunt).
A second Lake Planning Grant was awarded to FOLKS and the Dane County Regional Planning Commission (DCRPC) in 1998 to do a follow-up study looking at what could be done in the sub-watershed to improve the conditions of the marsh. The plan developed a comprehensive wetland resource protection plan tailored to the Door Creek wetland with special emphasis placed on restoring and enhancing the functional role of the wetlands as well as their associated benefits. The County Board approved the plan on April 18, 2000.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Door Creek -T6N, RIOE, Sec. 13, Surface acres = 12.3, Length = 12.7 miles, Stream order = II, Gradient = 2.4 ft/mile,
Base discharge = 9.4 cfs.
This tributary to the Yahara River system enters on the north shore of Lake Kegonsa and has been channelized along its entire length. Soil loss in the watershed is high and the stream bottom is silt covered. A large, shallow marsh near the mouth of the stream provides excellent northern pike spawning grounds. Waterfowl and upland game birds also use the area. There were 1,280 acres of wetlands in the watershed in the late 1950's (Poff and Threinen 1962), but due to continued draining, only about 800 acres remain. Water quality in the stream is poor. Drainage of wetlands and poor soil conservation practices within the watershed contribute to high phosphorous and inorganic nitrogen loading.
Wastewater from the sewage lagoon for the Village of Cottage Grove formerly entered through a small tributary. Sewage from Cottage Grove now goes through the metropolitan Madison system. Door Creek's physical characteristics and low flow limit the fishery to forage species. Improvements in water quality would, however, be beneficial to Lake Kegonsa. Access is available at eight road crossings and from the Yahara River system. Fish species: common and spotfin shiner, bluntnose minnow, creek chub, white sucker, black bullhead, brook stickleback, blueglll, and Johnny darter.
From: Day Elizabeth A.; Grzebieniak, Gayle P.; Osterby, Kurt M.; and Brynildson, Clifford L., 1985. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Dane County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
The 2018 assessments of Door Creek showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.
Author Ashley Beranek
Door Creek (802800) 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 temperature and sample data did not exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
Author Aaron Larson
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|
|802800||Door Creek||133504||Door Creek at Vilas Hope Rd Near Cottage Grove WI||5/25/2001||11/10/2022||Map||Data|
|802800||Door Creek||10056292||Door Creek - Mouth at Lake Kegonsa ||5/23/2022||6/6/2023||Map||Data|
|802800||Door Creek||10042186||Door Creek at CTH MN||5/22/2014||5/9/2023||Map||Data|
|802800||Door Creek||133097||Door Creek at Old Sth 12 And 18||8/16/2017||5/22/2023||Map||Data|
|802800||Door Creek||10010911||Door Creek - Door Creek At Jahnke Road||5/26/2016||5/13/2023||Map||Data|
|802800||Door Creek||10040880||Door Creek 200 ft downstream Siggelkow Rd||6/10/2013||8/15/2015||Map||Data|
|802800||Door Creek||10029221||Door Creek - Hope Road||11/5/2008||10/16/2022||Map||Data|
Door Creek is located in the Yahara River and Lake Kegonsa watershed which is 126.33 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (54.90%), grassland (10.70%) and a mix of wetland (10.30%) and other uses (24.20%). This watershed has 145.73 stream miles, 3,600.04 lake acres and 6,832.19 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Low 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.