Searles Creek, Lower Middle Sugar River Watershed (SP12)
Searles Creek, Lower Middle Sugar River Watershed (SP12)
Searles Creek (879500)
10.33 Miles
0 - 10.33
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 Headwater, Cool-Cold 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.
2019
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Degraded Habitat
Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
 
Green
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.
WWFF
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage 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.
WWSF
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.
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.
WWSF
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.

Overview

Searles Creek--
This nine-mile, low gradient stream flows eastward and joins the Sugar River at the north end of Decatur Lake. The
creek's watershed is a broad, flat-bottomed basin, which is heavily tilled for crops. A great deal of the stream has been
straightened because of ditching. Trees and vegetation along the shore buffer some areas, while other areas are grazed
right down to the shoreline. A wetland area just upstream from the confluence with Decatur Lake provides habitat for
wildlife. The existing use as a warm water sport fishery is mainly due to fish species migrating upstream from Decatur
Lake seeking better habitat than which can be found in the lake itself. As part of a structured habitat survey in 2002,
WDNR aquatic biologists observed that the stream bottom had extensive (greater than 60% silt and clay) fines in
riffles and runs. According to the WDNR habitat ratings, this is considered poor habitat. A 2002 fish assessment at
CTH F showed a variety of warm water forage species dominated by bluntnose minnow. The results from a 2002
macroinvertebrate assessment describes this stream as "good" water quality with some organic pollution (HBI =
5.089). Searles Creek is listed on the state's list of impaired (303d) waters because of habitat degradation caused by
primarily sedimentation.

Date  2005

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

This 9-mile, low gradient stream flows eastward and joins the Sugar River at the north end of Decatur Lake. The creek’s watershed is a broad, flat-bottomed basin which is heavily tilled for crops. A great deal of the stream has been straightened because of ditching. Some areas are buffered by trees and vegetation along the shore, while other areas are grazed right down to the shoreline (Amrhein, pers. obs). A wetland area just upstream from the confluence with Decatur Lake provides habitat for wildlife. The existing use as a warm water sport fishery is mainly due to fish species migrating upstream from Decatur Lake seeking better habitat than that which can be found in the lake itself (Bush, pers comm). Searles Creek is listed on the state’s list of impaired (303d) waters because of habitat degradation caused by nonpoint source pollution. It has not been monitored in recent years.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Bush, D.M., R. Cornelius, D. Engle, and C.L. Brynildson. 1980. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Green County, 2nd Edition. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.

This fair sized, low gradient drainage stream flows eastward and joins the Sugar River in the north end of
Decatur Lake. Its watershed is a broad, flat-bottomed basin, bounded by two steep ridges about three miles apart. Nearly all of the land is tilled for crops, and a great deal of the stream has been straightened by ditching. The banks are covered moderately well with grasses; however, rapid runoff and flooding during periods of heavy precipitation, combined with localized heavy pasturing, keeps the water turbid. The bottom is primarily gravel and sand intermixed with silt. Instream vegetation and aquatic invertebrates are scarce.The fishery of Searles Creek consists of an abundant and diverse assemblage of forage fish, although game fish occasionally come up from Decatur Lake. Approximately 240 acres of upland hardwood forest join the lower mile of the stream and provide excellent wildlife cover, A variety of migratory waterfowl use the area, and muskrat~ are present throughout the stream. The proximity of Decatur Lake also brings nesting ducks into the area. Access is provided at eight public road crossings.
Fish Species: Central mudminnow, stoneroller unspecified, hornyhead chub, common shiner, bigmouth shiner, spotfin shiner, sand shiner, suckermouth minnow, southern redbelly dace, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, creek chub, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, black bullhead, brook stickleback, fantail darter, Johnny darter, blackside darter.

Surface Acres = 5.8, Length = 8.0 Miles, Gradient = 10 ft./mi., Base Discharge = 7.9 cu. ft./sec.

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Flows easterly into Decatur Lake on the Sugar River. Previouly referred to as LIttle Jordan Creek, or Jordan Creek; the name has been changed to avoid confusion with Jordan Creek, T-2-N, R-6-E. Managed for forage fish and suckers. Approximately 10 acres of adjacent wetlands. Channel catfish and carp are present near the mouth. Heavily eroded watersheds; stream bottom mostly silt and clay.

Surface Acres= 6.5, Miles= 8.0, Gradient= 7.5' per mile From: Poff, Ronald J., and C.W. Threinen, Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Green County, Wisconsin Conservation Department, Madison I, 1961.

Date  1961

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Searles Creek, Lower Middle Sugar River Watershed (SP12) Fish and Aquatic LifeSearles Creek, Lower Middle Sugar River Watershed (SP12) RecreationSearles Creek, Lower Middle Sugar River Watershed (SP12) Fish Consumption

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.
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.
TMDL Implementation
Part of the Sugar Pecatonica Basin TMDL

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

Searles Creek is located in the Lower Middle Sugar River watershed which is 56.40 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (72.20%), grassland (12.40%) and a mix of forest (8.70%) and other uses (6.70%). This watershed has 126.77 stream miles, 142.28 lake acres and 1,552.10 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Ranked 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Searles Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem 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 (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.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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