Token Creek, Yahara River and Lake Mendota Watershed (LR09)
Token Creek, Yahara River and Lake Mendota Watershed (LR09)
Token Creek (806600)
2.95 Miles
0 - 2.95
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-Cold Mainstem, 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.
Class III Trout
Streams capable of supporting a seasonal coldwater sport fishery and which may be managed as coldwater streams.
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.


Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.

Token Creek This spring-fed Class III trout stream is the primary tributary to the Yahara River, providing significant base flow for the Yahara River and Lake Mendota (40 to 50 percent). The stream passes through residential (7 percent), agricultural (73 percent) and wetland areas (4 percent). Intense agricultural practices contribute sediment and nutrients to the stream and small impoundments in upstream areas warm the water, decreasing its suitability for trout management and contribute to excessive rooted aquatic plant production, periods of low dissolved oxygen and turbidity. The first two miles are a warm water sport fishery with some rough species (carp, freshwater drum). From mile marker 2 to 4, the stream is fed by springs and supports water cress and a diverse fishery of cold water, sport and forage fish.

A major dam on the creek once created a 44-acre millpond. In 1992 this dam partially failed and the millpond has become a shallow- to deep-water marsh. At least two significant springs and numerous seeps have been identified in the area formerly covered by the millpond. These springs are identified by two major tributaries rising to form clearly defined wetland/stream tracts that lead to the creek. Biologists believe that preserving the springs is essential for maintaining the existing brown trout fishery and establishing a brook trout fishery. The millpond, as previously maintained, absorbed the cold water springs, which heated the water and impacted the creek's fishery and water quality. WDNR recognized the potential of restoring the millpond area to a natural cold water stream corridor surrounded by good quality wetlands. In partnership with the town of Windsor, Dane County, local conservation groups and residents, WDNR purchased 69 acres of the Token Creek Millpond area for $1 million. The Token Creek Millpond dam was removed and is being restored to a brook trout fishery. The stream is buffered by wetlands that have developed since the dam failed.

Runoff from the three major highways that cross the stream and the interchange and truck stops located adjacent to it likely affects water quality. Urban development in Sun Prairie and the towns of Windsor, Burke and Bristol will generate significant additional stormwater runoff bringing with it sediment and other pollutants. These problems need to be properly managed to protect the water quality and cold water fisheries of Token Creek, as well as the public and private investment made now and in the future to protect and enhance the stream and its fishery.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Token Creek -T8N, R10E, Sec. 7, Surface acres = 18, Length = 10 miles, Stream order = I, Gradient = 8.7 ft/mile,
Base discharge = 18.6 cfs.
Token Creek originates in Section 24 of Windsor Township (T9N, R10E) and empties into the Yahara River north of Lake Mendota. It drains 27.3 square miles of residential, agricultural, and marsh land. The creek is spring-fed but its flow is interrupted by several impoundments, limiting most portions of the creek to warm water fish species. Water quality is quite good considering the developmental pressures affecting the area, such as residential subdivisions and a major highway interchange. However, agricultural runoff has caused heavy silting problems. Although brown trout are no longer stocked in Token Creek, there is great potential for a trout fishery if the dams were removed, making the springs accessible to trout. Two spring impoundments presently serve as trout rearing ponds and two short sections support some wild brown trout. Carp are a problem in Token Creek and several eradication attempts have been made with no permanent success. The creek is navigable and receives moderate fishing pressure. Public access is available from several DNR-and county-owned tracts and from six road crossings. The creek flows through part of Cherokee Marsh which provides habitat for wildlife and waterfowl. Token Creek County Park located near the Junction of Hwys. 19 and 1-90/94 provides camping and day use facilities. Fish species: common carp, fathead minnow, creek chub, white sucker, brook stickleback, green sunfish, bluegill, walleye, and brown trout.

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.

Date  1985

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Token Creek, Yahara River and Lake Mendota Watershed (LR09) Fish and Aquatic LifeToken Creek, Yahara River and Lake Mendota Watershed (LR09) RecreationToken Creek, Yahara River and Lake Mendota Watershed (LR09) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Token Creek, from its mouth to US 51 (miles 0 to 2.95), was evaluated in the 2016 and 2018 cycles for temperature and biology; this stream segment is on the Healthy Waters List.

Token Creel, from rom Hwy 51 to impoundment dam (miles 2.95 to 3.44), was placed on the impaired waters list in 1998 for sediment and degraded biological communities. A TMDL for this pollutant-impairment combination was approved in 2002. This segment of Token Creek was evaluated in the 2022 cycle for phosphorus and biology; no impairment was found.

Token Creek, from Token Creek Lane to confluence with third tributary (miles 3.44 to 7.25), was put on the impaired waters list in 1998 for Degraded Biological Community from too much sediment and dam causing barriers to fish passage. In 2018 the pollutant of fish barriers was removed because the dam was taken out of the stream in the 2000s. The stream segment is still listed for sediment, but the TMDL for this pollutant was approved in 2002. This portion of Token Creek was evaluated every two years from 2016 to 2022; phosphorus, chloride, temperature, bugs, fish, and bacteria indicate a healthy system.

Token Creek, from confluence with third tributary to Egre Road (miles 7.25 to 9.9), was put on the Impaired Waters List in the 1998 cycle for fish barriers and sediment. In the 2016 cycle phosphorus was also added to the list. The dam on

Token Creek was removed so there is no longer barrier to fish passage. Evaluations in the 2022 cycle confirmed the phosphorus impairment.

Token Creek, from Egre Rd to headwaters (miles 9.9 to 11.65), was put on the Impaired waters list for phosphorus in the 2016 cycle. Evaluations every two-year cycle from 2018 to 2022 confirmed the phosphorus impairment.

Date  2022

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.



Land Acquisition
Dane County proposes to acquire approximately 110 acres of land as an addition to Cherokee Marsh for low impact recreational opportunities and lake protection.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
The Token Creek Watershed Association will work to enhance their capacity as an organization by hiring a half time employee and by expanding their community education.
Educate and engage residents
The Token Creek Watershed Association will integrate public education and professionally lead workshops to:1) raise public awareness of stream protection benefits, 2) increase grass-roots membership in the organization, 3) train members of TCWA, and 4) aid in the ongoing process of strategic planning. Increasing public awareness of the watershed and TCWA will increase public support for TCWA activities as well as increasing memberships in the organization.
TMDL Monitoring
Token Creek was approved and implemented in 1999. The Dam was removed and the stream restored.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Token Creek TMDL Approved by USEPA addressing the sedimentation and habitat degradation impairments which were identified on the Wisconsin 1998 303(d) 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 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

Token Creek is located in the Yahara River and Lake Mendota watershed which is 112.56 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (65.30%), grassland (9.80%) and a mix of suburban (9.50%) and other uses (15.40%). This watershed has 107.14 stream miles, 385.75 lake acres and 5,200.97 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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

Token Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Mainstem under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results and 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 (Cold-Transition) Mainstem streams are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.